I was going to write a status update on FB to clarify my thoughts on Simple Living being the latest trend, but it turned into a blog post. I’m referencing this post that I put up yesterday. As I said, I know people live a simple life because it’s what they choose to do and it aligns with their values, but if we’re honest, the simple living that’s trending now is a money-maker.
I’ve talked about this with friends over the last several months. One friend made a very good point….she said people canned back in the day out of necessity, it’s rare for people to do it for that reason today. It’s more of a hobby now. Nothing wrong with that at all. There are people doing it because it’s the latest trend. Cloth diapering, gardening, making your own clothes, a lot of things like that are a hobby for a lot of people. There are some who do it as a way to save money or because it was passed down in the family. What about those who lived with this way because they have to? Some of our parents wonder why in the world we would want to cloth diaper when disposables are available. I did it to save money and then I really got into it because the diapers and covers today are so dang cute!
I was having a chat with Destany about this online and she’s giving me permission to share her thoughts on the subject with you.
I agree with you in many ways, Darcel. On one hand, it’s great for the planet that they’re doing this – but you’re right about people in poverty who don’t have a choice maybe looking sideways at others who can afford to live better but don’t. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s like thrift shops. I grew up shopping in thrift stores, and I my mother could get everybody clothes for less than 30$. I could spend 25 cents a shirt. I was embarrassed, and told nobody.
At one point thrift stores suddenly became popular among middle class. I saw a news spot on it. And then the prices went up to $3 a shirt very quickly. I was glad that it was no longer a shameful way to shop, but then I was also angry because something I needed was no longer affordable to me.
There are always many sides to things. It’s good to think of them and explore them.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t come off as a total douche. I remember being embarrassed at some of the things I had to do growing up. We were at the thrift store Monday and I was so thankful to buy clothes for three kids for less than $50 I could never do that at the mall or Target.
They had Gymboree and Children’s Place for $3. That’s a steal and off brand stuff was 55cents or $1. Right now my girls don’t know the difference and I hope to keep it that way a while longer. Like you said, all of a sudden thrifting is fashionable.
I do a little gardening, not because I have to, but because it’s fun. Some people choose to do it because they can pay the money up front and they work hard to keep up with it year after year. It’s a lifestyle for them and a way to save money. I mean, breastfeeding is becoming trendy because celebrities are being more open about it.
The fact is, there are opportunists who will be happy to turn a buck wherever they can. And when something becomes popular – be it thrift stores, growing and raising food, even reusable products, the prices for these things go up and they become almost luxuries. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to thrift stores and seen their prices very close to Walmart.
This can and does make it more difficult for people who have always relied on these methods of saving as a means to get by.
I completely agree with you that many time things which are simpler are being over priced ONLY because the demand is higher and more well-off people can afford them.
Food is one good example. Foods which are whole and cost little to produce are in higher demand and therefore cost more than the highly processed crappy foods that many people of better means are choosing to stop eating. Now, a box of hamburger helper only costs $1.50, but a 5lb. bag of apples costs $6.50. The apples are much less involved in getting to the store shelves than the boxed foods, but people are catching on now that those boxed foods are nasty.
Poor people get what others don’t want. So when simpler, greener, eco-friendly (and health friendly) things are what is preferred, those who have always been accustomed to those things find them taken away.
This is what I was trying to articulate in my Facebook post, but I meant what I said. Simple Living is a trend and has been for years. Like Destany said, the processed foods are way less expensive than the whole foods. When you’re on a budget, you need to get the most food for your money, especially if you have children. And not everyone knows about nutrition or has the means to learn how to eat a more balanced diet on a budget. I always thought Simple Living was about saving money, living a sustainable life, not buying the latest wooden toy that costs $200 because it’s the greatest in the natural toys community. I mean, what’s the point of living a simple lifestyle if you go out spending boat loads of money? I’m not slamming anyone with money, but the simple living of today seems to be more about having the elite status, being privileged and being able to tout how natural and simple we are.
People say they don’t judge and look down on someone if they don’t eat organic, homeschool, homebirth, etc… but I repeatedly here and see comments like these “I cut cable and now we can afford to eat organic.” “If she would get rid of her iphone, new care, and cable, they could afford to eat organic.” Really? If that was all it took for people to be able to afford organic food, we would all shop and eat organic. There is a serious mix up with Attachment Parenting merging into Simple Living. Since when did these labels become interchangeable? Attachment Parenting used to mean keeping your baby close, meeting their needs, treating them with love and respect. Now it’s morphed into homeschooling and Natural Family Living or Simple Living. Why is that?
I love shopping at thrift stores, and I love getting a good deal when I can. I hope my children will grow up to enjoy it and not feel ashamed. I’ve made mention before about how excited I am that Trader Joes and Whole Foods take food stamps. With the SNAP benefits I have, I can only make a monthly trip to TJ’s. I try to stock up on a few items that will last us about two weeks. Most of the time my fruit comes from Walmart. It costs too much at Target. Those are the two stores closest to me. I would love to shop at the Farmer’s Market but that will have to be with cash and for a meal I plan to cook that night. I’m cool with that.
Every person makes the choices that are best for their family and will cut certain things out to be able to afford other things. I get annoyed when I see and hear people going on and on about how simple they live and then in the next breath brag about how much money they spend on groceries, their children s clothes, mattresses, and playsets for the children.
Referencing my friend again, If you really want to boast about how simple you live, get rid of your computer, wash your clothes on the washing board, spin your own yarn, turn off the electricity, make every single thing you eat completely from scratch. I’m sure there’s someone out there doing these things anyway…maybe not all at once. I love modern technology. My phone is glued to me when my kids aren’t playing with it. I can’t sew and keep saying I’m going to learn and maybe one day I finally will.
I do feel the need to speak for other people. I think sometimes we all need someone to speak on our behalf. It causes us to think, have conversations, we can see a different point of view. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Sometimes I have terrible mom guilt because I don’t feel I provide well enough for my kids. I know I’m not the only mother who feels this way. I speak out so others know they aren’t alone in their thoughts. I enjoy being frugal for the most part. I hope my children see it that way and grow to enjoy it too. Like I said before, we all make the choices that are right for our family. I don’t think simple living is going to look the same for every family, but I don’t agree with this newer, fancier version of simple living.
Destany, thank you for letting me share some of your experiences on my blog. Check out her beautiful artwork.
I still don’t know if I articulated myself well. I would love to know your thoughts on the subject. How and why do you live a simple life?
What do you think of this new simple living trend?