Simplify Your Life, Reduce Waste

A guide to responsible consumerism.

| November/December 1999


A Guide to Responsible Consumerism

American society tends to equate money and material possessions with a good life—everyone has seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”—but what is the truth? In recent decades, Americans have continually worked harder to obtain better cars, bigger houses, more “stuff.” Although we consume twice as much as we did in the 1950s, our quality of life (as measured by the Index of Social Health) has gone down 52 percent. Many claim to feel stressed, depressed, and out of touch with a more simple, and perhaps more worthwhile, way of living. In fact, it sometimes seems as though consumerism has run rampant and the American Dream has become an American nightmare.

Proponents of the simplicity movement urge us to live more consciously, to be aware of what is most important in life. A life of working less, wanting less, and spending less, they suggest, may be a direct road to happiness. Consider this: Does a happy life automatically equal one filled with “toys?” Or, perhaps, is the happy life one that is lived, more deliberately, engaged with the old-fashioned pleasure of simple play? Below are a few suggested steps toward simplifying your life.

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