• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • r ranson
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
  • Carla Burke
  • Leigh Tate
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • Mike Barkley

Voluntary Simplicity

 
pollinator
Posts: 177
Location: Midwestern USA
40
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


I met a fellow gardener/permaculturist who's local to me, and we struck up a yearlong discussion about permaculture, suburban homesteading, and other topics. She and I are both bloggers, and I turned our discussion into a 3-part series.

About her: Claire Schosser writes Living Low in the Lou, a blog chronicling her and her husband Mike's journey of reduced energy consumption and self-sufficiency. She opted for early retirement back in the mid-1990s (with Mike following in 2001) by reducing their expenses through living simply, growing much of their own food, and forgoing many of the shiny new conveniences that the rest of us take as givens. For those outside the area, "the Lou" is a popular nickname for St. Louis, Missouri. The Schosser/Gaillard homestead is located on a one-acre plot in suburban St. Louis and includes many mature, productive nut and fruit trees, an extensive annual garden, an herb garden, and a glassed-in front porch that functions as a greenhouse.

Claire and I discussed their lifestyle and garden over the course of two in-person visits and many back-and-forth email conversations between spring 2020 and spring 2021. The three-part Q&A series covers the topics voluntary simplicity, suburban homesteading, and getting the most food for the time and space in your garden.



The first part is on the topic "Voluntary Simplicity," which I thought would be a great one to post here to take the conversation Claire and I began and expand it to the wider permie community. Here's the original post at Cat in the Flock: A Life of 'Voluntary Simplicity' - Q&A with Living Low in the Lou's Claire Schosser

Some of the examples we explore:

- Retiring early through secure investments and simplified lifestyle choices - or "living low" if you take Claire's blog title as a cue
- Washing dishes by hand
- Buying fewer items of better quality that will last
- Spend less money and increase your skill base
- Grow, store, prepare, and preserve your own food
- Restore old furniture
- Reuse as much as possible



What are your thoughts and examples of the like?

 
gardener
Posts: 319
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
79
hugelkultur forest garden foraging tiny house wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.
 
Lisa Brunette
pollinator
Posts: 177
Location: Midwestern USA
40
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Helmersson wrote:We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.



Thanks, Michael! I appreciate that. I'd be interested in what you gave up vs. what your visitors say they could never go without. In my own experience, I can share two things we gave up that we have no qualms whatsoever about missing: 1) Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and 2) a dishwasher. We don't miss the social media at all and have gained back valuable hours (plus saner platforms like this Permies community provide a much better kind of online interaction). And we find we enjoy doing our own dishes, and they come out cleaner.
 
Michael Helmersson
gardener
Posts: 319
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
79
hugelkultur forest garden foraging tiny house wood heat
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lisa Brunette wrote:

Michael Helmersson wrote:We gave up as much as we could in order to attain freedom. We have visitors exclaim how they could never go without _____, but they moan about how broke or unhappy they are. It's frustrating to know how easily they could shed a few unnecessary "luxuries" and live a happier life. This topic is so important and I'm glad to see it promoted.



Thanks, Michael! I appreciate that. I'd be interested in what you gave up vs. what your visitors say they could never go without. In my own experience, I can share two things we gave up that we have no qualms whatsoever about missing: 1) Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and 2) a dishwasher. We don't miss the social media at all and have gained back valuable hours (plus saner platforms like this Permies community provide a much better kind of online interaction). And we find we enjoy doing our own dishes, and they come out cleaner.



We gave up:

-car and truck (we are a 5min walk to town)
-grid utilities (we have a small solar array)
-running water (except for a 12v shower pump)
-telephone and interwebs (we have a work-related web connection)
-a plowed road (our private road is ours to maintain)
-but most important of all--the expense of all the above.

Visitors have exclaimed how "cool it is", what we're doing, but......... they couldn't live without their hair dryer, endless hot showers, car, thermostatically controlled indoor climate, limitless electricity and other reasons I can't remember. The saddest though, are people that feel they're too old to do this and wish they had.
 
gardener
Posts: 368
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
175
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting topic! I'll be curious to read what others here have "given up".

We don't have:

1. Microwave.
2. Laundry Dryer. For a while, we didn't even have a washing machine. I used a wringer. Someone gifted us with a washing machine, which hubbie re-plumbed to drain out onto some fruit trees.
3. Hair Dryer.
4. Cable TV.
5. Dishwasher. (I often joke that I actually have two dishwashers, then wave my two hands in the air.)
6. Landline. I have an old "dumb" phone, hubbie does have a smartphone.
7. Many small kitchen appliances like: food processor, stand mixer, electric pressure cooker, toaster, toaster oven, etc. I do have a crockpot, blender, coffee grinder, and coffee maker.
8. Deep freezer. Whatever doesn't fit in the freezer above my fridge gets canned, dried, etc.
9. A TV in the bedroom.

But honestly, it's taken me several minutes of brainstorming to compile this list. I don't think of the things we don't have very often. I just don't miss them. For instance, I've been without a hair dryer for long, I didn't even think to list it until a previous poster did.

If anyone is interested in weaning out of the rat race in a semi-manageable pace, try not replacing stuff as it breaks. For us, it started with the dishwasher. Then the hair dryer, then the deep freeze, etc. Going off grid cold-turkey would be too difficult, I think. But just learning to make do without the stuff once it breaks has been an easy task for us. We're certainly not off grid by any means, but the "stuff" most Americans think of as necessary are actually easy to live without if you just don't need to.
 
Michael Helmersson
gardener
Posts: 319
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
79
hugelkultur forest garden foraging tiny house wood heat
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Stacie Kim wrote:

But honestly, it's taken me several minutes of brainstorming to compile this list. I don't think of the things we don't have very often. I just don't miss them. For instance, I've been without a hair dryer for long, I didn't even think to list it until a previous poster did.



This is what happens once you get used to not having things that you had to get used to having in the first place. Lots of people think their habits and routines are necessities.
 
Lisa Brunette
pollinator
Posts: 177
Location: Midwestern USA
40
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Visitors have exclaimed how "cool it is", what we're doing, but......... they couldn't live without their hair dryer, endless hot showers, car, thermostatically controlled indoor climate, limitless electricity and other reasons I can't remember. The saddest though, are people that feel they're too old to do this and wish they had.



I have to laugh at the hair dryer - I haven't used one since the 80s and would definitely put that in the 'first to go' column!
 
Lisa Brunette
pollinator
Posts: 177
Location: Midwestern USA
40
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Stacie Kim wrote:

1. Microwave.
2. Laundry Dryer. For a while, we didn't even have a washing machine. I used a wringer. Someone gifted us with a washing machine, which hubbie re-plumbed to drain out onto some fruit trees.
3. Hair Dryer.
4. Cable TV.
5. Dishwasher. (I often joke that I actually have two dishwashers, then wave my two hands in the air.)
6. Landline. I have an old "dumb" phone, hubbie does have a smartphone.
7. Many small kitchen appliances like: food processor, stand mixer, electric pressure cooker, toaster, toaster oven, etc. I do have a crockpot, blender, coffee grinder, and coffee maker.
8. Deep freezer. Whatever doesn't fit in the freezer above my fridge gets canned, dried, etc.
9. A TV in the bedroom.



Great list, Stacie! I'm with you on the hair dryer - first to go. Ditto a TV in the bedroom, which is a really bad habit for so many Americans, in my opinion. I've never had a TV in that room and now haven't had a TV anywhere since 2005. I'd be sad to part with the big freezer, though! Love the idea to elect to not replace as things break. Great suggestion.
 
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: WV
56
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We still have material things such as TV, DVD players and VCRs but my hubby repairs them and most of the ones we keep either have a cosmetic issue or a mechanical issue (DVD player has a tray that won't always close on its own.  However all are functional and were either free or low cost to us.  We ditched satellite TV probably fifteen years ago though I do keep an Amazon Prime subscription for my daughter and for the free shipping perk and books.

90% of our clothing is thrifted as the only things we buy new are underclothes and shoes for hubby and I as we both have large, wide feet and often can't find anything second hand.  My daughter occasionally gets a new outfit or toy but most is also thrifted.  I also recycle clothing that is too far gone to be donated into rags, quilts, tomato ties and sometimes even a new outfit for my daughter.

We downsized to one vehicle when the pandemic hit and we gave up our store to strictly sell from home.  That vehicle was purchased used and is maintained regularly for a fraction of the cost of what something shiny and new would cost.  A cargo hauler that attaches to our hitch gives us a bit more room for hauling items that won't fit in the cargo area.  

Our home is paid for and unlike so many of our friends, we're not looking to purchase something bigger and fancier.  I personally have twenty plus years invested in improving this property and though I keep planting and making improvements, I'm perfectly happy to live here until my time on this earth is over.

I have increased my knowledge of edible wild plants and am constantly increasing my garden area to reduce our food costs.  I grew all of my vegetable plants from seed this year and only purchased a few annual flowers, most of which will be overwintered and used for cuttings to start new plants for next year.  At one time I used to use lots of coupons but very seldom do now unless it's on paper products, soaps or shampoos.  I buy very little premade food but lots of raw ingredients as most of our meals are from scratch which is far cheaper and healthier.  

I also strive to learn something new everyday and to put that knowledge to use.  One can read tons of books on a particular subject, but nothing can replace actually doing it.

Two things I can't give up are the landline as cell service is basically non-existent here and the hairdryer as my hair has a tendency to do its own thing without it, but then I only use it on the occasions when I actually leave the property.
 
Posts: 413
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
92
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What I've noticed is how quick some people are to offer you something when you tell them you don't have one.  Smartphone, microwave... "I've got a spare/old one you can have!" they say.  As if you've somehow found yourself accidentally without one and must be in desperate need. Or, they try to get to the bottom of why you don't have one, so they can persuade you to get one. "WHY don't you take foreign holidays?  Is it the cost?  Prague is really cheap!  The length of time it takes to get there? That's why MY holiday starts as soon as I get to the airport!"

It's difficult to say what I've "given up" because I've never had most of these things.  Hairdryer, foreign holidays, microwave, tumble drier, dishwasher, going to the hairdresser, colouring my hair, smartphone, car finance, pressure washer, more than one television, TV subscription.

I do use facebook.  I have about 12 "friends", and a huge heap of friend requests from people I hardly know.

There are loads of things I could do without, but it's a matter of finding a balance.  There are things I value that folks who've achieved deeper simplicity don't miss.  Like going for walks or to museums and things like that.  I could just walk mindfully from my front door, and appreciate the tiny beauties of life.  But I do like to explore new places.  I could give up my car, and just explore places I can get to by public transport.  But even though that would give me more range, it overshadows my walk if I know I've GOT to get back to a certain place by a certain time or I'll miss the last bus or train, especially in rural areas.  So I have a car.  

I lie about not having a smartphone, actually.  I've got one on my desk right now that I bought my son a year or two ago, and then his dad got him a newer shinier one.  There was something I wanted to try that only came in an "app", so I capitulated and used this one.  But I hate peering and poking and being a slave to the tiny little screen that's apparently going to transform my life, like all the other zombies.  I have made my displeasure clear to the "app only" company, and it will only be a short experiment!
 
Lisa Brunette
pollinator
Posts: 177
Location: Midwestern USA
40
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hester Winterbourne wrote:What I've noticed is how quick some people are to offer you something when you tell them you don't have one.  Smartphone, microwave... "I've got a spare/old one you can have!" they say.  As if you've somehow found yourself accidentally without one and must be in desperate need. Or, they try to get to the bottom of why you don't have one, so they can persuade you to get one. "WHY don't you take foreign holidays?  Is it the cost?  Prague is really cheap!  The length of time it takes to get there? That's why MY holiday starts as soon as I get to the airport!"



I just laughed at this as so true and had to read it out loud to my husband. People are really weird about, for example, finding out you use your dishwasher for storage and hand wash instead, or that you don't actually have a Facebook account. I reached out to some gardeners in my neighborhood who formed a gardening group but was ignored because I'm not on Facebook! I was like, REALLY? We're neighbors. You live two blocks from me. What do we need Facebook for? Come on over and tour my garden, and let's talk in real life!
gift
 
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic