Voluntary simplicity is a fascinating and enticing concept. It is a movement that involves, at its very core, the powerful concepts of time, money, and morality, asking you to make choices that will allow you to preserve all three.
Unfortunately, simple living isn’t always so simple. Often, we find ourselves having to choose among the three pillars. For example, hanging clothes to dry is a great financial and environmental choice but at the expense of your already sparse time. Buying organic whole foods preserves health and the environment, but costs money and time. Inevitably, you will find situations in your own life that require you to make these decisions. When that happens, you will need to do some soul searching and weigh values.
Not everything is that difficult, though. There are some tried and true choices you can make right now that will save you time and money, while supporting the values and ends you are hoping to achieve. None of these is revolutionary; I’m sure that every one of you has heard these suggestions before. Hearing and doing, however, are two very different things. Consider my arguments carefully and re-evaluate some of the choices you’ve made in the past. Even one change from the list below will free up time and money for other projects that you do deem worthwhile, while simultaneously making an ever-important impact on the world around you.
1. Wear clothes more than once before washing them.
Saves: time, money, water, energy, chemical runoff
For the two adults in my household, I found myself running at least one load of laundry every day. Now you may love laundry, but personally I can’t stand it. So, one day I decided to hang my dress pants back up when I finished wearing them. Pants, I reasoned, are relatively clean. The next day I did the same. The pile of laundry seemed to shrink magically. I now wear dress pants twice, jeans up to 3 times, and pajama bottoms for several days before washing them. Often I will use pajamas of questionable cleanliness as workout clothes before finally washing them. The same strategy applies for towels: use them for several days, then step them down to “less clean” tasks, like drying the bathroom floor, before washing them.
2. Get a more low-maintenance ‘do.
Saves: time, money, chemicals, self-consciousness
I spend 5 minutes a morning brushing my hair. I spend 8 minutes every other day washing it. That’s it. No heat styling, no chemicals, no product. What I found when I used these tools was that they simply perpetuated themselves: if I heat styled I needed to deep condition. If I deep conditioned, my hair looked greasy unless I washed more often, and used clarifying products. If I washed my hair more often, it started to look limp and needed more styling. Enough! Let it all go. Be natural. (Bonus tip: I don’t use makeup either!)
3. Cook once, eat twice.
Saves: time, money, energy
A great tip, all around. I’ll leave the details for more expert writers, but my suggestion here is, refrigerate the second meal before you sit down to eat the first, or you’ll just eat the whole thing!
4. Shop less often.
Saves: time, money, gasoline, wasted food
I resisted this tip for the longest time. I was a master shopper. If I skipped a week, I’d miss all the loss leader sales. In fact, I often shopped at more than one store each week. Then gasoline topped $3 a gallon and I decided to back off to every other week. Guess what? The biweekly trip didn’t take me twice as long as the weekly trip, nor did it cost me twice as much. And as for those loss leaders? I panicked one day, seeing chicken on sale for $1.87 a pound (my rock bottom price) in a non-shopping week. But what if I run out of chicken before it gets that low again? I thought. Then the simplicity angel on my shoulder whispered, Then you won’t eat chicken. Oh. Yeah.
When you simplify your life, you will find that you are more able to spend time with your loved ones, help favorite causes, and make sound environmental choices. The tips above won’t work for everyone, but I hope that by reading this you will start to challenge your own ways of doing things and determine how each choice you make helps to support your simple philosophy. Let the simplicity angel on your own shoulder tell you what the right thing to do is.