Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM


Simplicity Mountains Voluntary Simplicity and Post-Materialism
  How much do you really need?


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Henry David Thoreau "Our life is frittered away by detail."
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand;
instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."
"Simplify, simplify."
- Henry David Thoreau
Walden (Chapter 2, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.) p. 66


"Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough."
- Charles Dudley Warner


Henry David Thoreau "This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself."

- José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano, President of Uruguay (2010-2014)

[Ed. note: Mujica, in 2012, was considered the world's poorest president - his biggest personal asset, at the time, was a 1988
VW Beetle that he relied on for transportation. At that time he was also contributing 90% of his presidential salary to charity...]


"Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you'll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It's like a deal you can make with the universe: I'll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use."
- David Edwards interviewed by Derrick Jensen for The Sun (Nothing to Lose But Our Illusions)


"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler;
solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness."
- Henry David Thoreau


"Speak the truth, speak it loud and often, calmly but insistently, and speak it, as the Quakers say, to power.
Material accumulation is not the purpose of human existence.
All growth is not good.
The environment is a necessity, not a luxury.
There is such a thing as enough.
- Donella Meadows, Ph.D. (1941 - 2001)


Walking up Green Mountain by Roger J. Wendell -03-05-2006
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"Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social, and spiritual consequences.
It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that underlie our lifestyles."

- David Suzuki scientist


"To be at the leading edge of consumption, affluence, and instant gratification is to be at the dying edge."
- Max Du Pree, in his book, Leadership is an Art p. 22.


"As for the rich, while a few know how to use their wealth intelligently -- that is to say, not in luxurious living but by sharing it with the needy -- many do not. They are so caught up with the idea of acquiring still more that they make no room for anything else in their lives."
- His Holiness The Dalai Lama, in Ethics for the New Millennium, p.5


"Thirty thousand years ago, when men were doing cave paintings at Lascaux, they worked twenty hours a week to provide themselves with food and shelter and clothing. The rest of the time, they could play, or sleep, or do whatever they wanted. And they lived in a natural world, with clean air, clean water, beautiful trees and sunsets. Think about it. Twenty hours a week. Thirty thousand years ago."

- from page 285 of Micahael Crichton's Jurassic Park


Duane Elgin "The world is profoundly changing, that much seems clear. We have entered at time of great uncertainty that extends from local to global scale. We are forced by pressing circumstances to ask difficult questions about the way we live our lives: Will my present way of life still be workable when my children grow up? How might their lives, and my own, be different? Am I satisfied with my work? Does my work contribute to the well-being of others - or is it just a source of income? How much income do I really require? Require for what? How much of my consumption adds to the clutter and complexity of my life rather than to my satisfaction? How does my level and pattern of consumption affect other people and the environment? Is there an alternative way of living that is more sustainable in an era of scarcity? Do I have the flexibility to adapt to a period of prolonged energy shortage and economic depression? In the face of scarcity, is there an alternative way of living that fosters cooperation and community rather than cutthroat competition and social fragmentation? are there small changes that I could make in my own life that, with many others making similar changes, would result in a large difference in the well-being of others? What are my responsibilities to the other members of the human family who are living in grinding poverty? Am I missing much of the richness of life by being preoccupied with the search for social status and consumer goods? What is my purpose in life? How am I to take charge of my own life?"

- Duane Elgin (1981)
Voluntary Simplicity
(Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich)
Chapter I, Voluntary Simplicity, pp. 21-22


"I have enough money in the bank now to buy enough beans and rice for twenty-five years. To the end (sometimes longed for). Why not kidnap Suzy and sneak off to the life of a semi-hermit? A tempting, constantly tempting idea. Hide out up in Red Canyon, or Dirty Devil, or Trachyte Canyon under the Little Rockies?"

"Peace. Simplicity. Order, ceremony and ritual. Voluntary poverty. An end to clutter and this vulgar, stifling, crushing burden of things - junk - trash - things! - that weigh so upon our lives. I need some love in my daily life. Some loyalty. Some beauty. 'Tis a gift to be simple. ' Tis a gift to be free..."

- Edward Abbey
Journal XVI, November 7, 1978 - Tucson


"They were the best of people, and I promised myself that one day I would come and live among them and escape from the increasingly mechanistic mainland world with its March Hare preoccupation with witless production for mindless consumption; its disruptive infatuation with change for its own sake; its idiot dedication to the bitch goddess, Progress."

- Farley Mowat
A Whale For the Killing, p. 8


"We need these places [Olympic Peninsula coastline] for replenishment, our bodies but vessels left unfulfilled by the consumptive material goods we try to cram inside, which, rather than satisfy, send us on endless cycles of desire that can never be satisfied but must be re-created over and over again by those who would have us believe that we are only what we own, when in truth we are everything but."

- Daryl Farmer
Bicycling beyone the Divide
(Two Journeys into the West), p. 193


"Our childish pursuit of gratification palls and we too sense that something we do not understand lies within all our hectic coming and going. Our selfish ways become unsatisfying."

- Robert Aitken
Taking the Path of Zen, p. 4




Cycling Simplicity

Time and Cindie Travis, Down-the-Road
Reproduced with permission
In 2004 I met Tim and Cindie Travis while I was climbing Aconcagua in Argentina. A year earlier they had sold everything they owned for a round-the-world bicyle tour. As luck would have it I ran into them near the park headquarters as they were cycling through the area. I was so impressed with their chosen lifestyle that I later had them on my radio show a couple of times later when they were near reliable phone service. Anyway, since then I've subsribed to their newsletter at www.downtheroad.org and was pleased to see this excellent piece related to voluntary simplicity in their March 30, 2009 edition:
"When we were on temporary trips the simplicity and freedom of a bike tour was a vacation from our regular lives of working, and surviving the rat race. Looking back at the years leading up to our departure we wonder how we juggled all the complexities of modern life. There were bills to mail, cars to fix, schedules to keep, bosses to impress, and a million other things to get done before the end of the day, month, or year. We used to say, "There aren't enough hours in a day to do all the things that need to get done." Now we have far less things to worry about and feel like we have all day to see what will come our way. After several years of living a simple existence on bikes with our possessions being limited to what can be carried, we have evolved into a simplistic yet open minded way of looking at life. Everything is beautiful in its own basic way and a great weight of worry and stress has been lifted from our shoulders. We are free to explore, learn, and drift."

"Another big change we have noticed is our growing freedom from 'want.' During the years on the road, visiting rich and poor alike, the idea of 'I want' will never be the same. We used to walk through stores and fight the urge to buy all the things we thought we wanted with that little piece of plastic in our pocket that promised immediate gratification. It was stressful to want something, ponder the consequences, and use restraint to deny the purchase or, give in to our desires and buy it and often feel guilty later. So many people in this world live on a fraction of what citizens of developed countries consider the bare essentials and yet find far more happiness in their lives. The most content people we have met in our travels all have a clear sense of the difference between want and need. After riding in their countries and staying in their houses we have learned to open our minds to new perspectives."

"The answer is not to make or borrow more money in order to have more possessions because acquiring material things will never satisfy wanting more. There will always be something else to want. The secret to happiness is to be content with what you have and not want things you cannot afford. It is much more fulfilling to feel fortunate when your work has earned enough to cover all your real needs and have something left over for extras. It is a shift in perception from agonizing over wanting something like a new TV to being excited when the household's finances have gone so well that you can have something extra. The TV is no longer wanted every time it is passed in the store but rather an unexpected reward for a job well done."

"This many years on the road have taught Cindie and me to throw away the big list of things we would like to own and be content with what we have. We now find happiness in the simple pleasures of life and don't seek our identities in the things we own. It sounds so simple and idealistic but the results have been monumental."




Mary Romano at KGNU's open house on 08-29-2006 On December 22nd, 2000, I had the pleasure of conducting a radio interview with both Cecile Andrews and Mary Romano on the subject of "Voluntary Simplicty."  Although I concluded the program with a strong sense of what voluntary simplicity was about, it was also clear what it wasn't.  Impossing the philosopy on others, especially the poor, was a clearly marked "wasn't." Another "wasn't" is that Voluntary Simplicity isn't the "self-deprivation movement," clearly, it's the opposite of that! And finally, it's obvious there's no concrete set of "rules" - Voluntary Simplicity is pretty much how you make the best of it.  So, I've reserved this page to talk about some of the cool stuff that voluntary simplicity can do for the environment, the human condition and our lives in general.

- Roger J. Wendell, 2000

Here are some great references to help get you started:

Volunatry Simplicity: Toward a way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich - Duane Elgin
The Simple Living Guide - Janet Luhrs
The Circle of Simplicty: Return to the Good Life - Cecile Andrews
Your Money or Your Life - Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin




Buy Nothing Day:
(It's always the day after Thanksgiving here in the U.S.)

Apparantly the first "Buy Nothing Day" was created by an advertising executive, named Kalle Lasn, who became an anti-consumerism activist. My own family and I have done a pretty good job of observing it since the early 2000s and hope others use the day as an opportunity to take a rest from the buying frenzy.

There are countless ways to "celebrate" Buy Nothing Day. Some ideas include things like staying at home and buying nothing at all - Don't go shopping, Don't buy anything! If you have to work that day, take your lunch instead of buying it. If possible, ride your bike or walk for the day. Consider it a 24 hour break from spending money and enjoy!

- Roger

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Involuntary Voluntary Simplicity:

I think losing a job, for just about any reason, is one of the most stressful things in our modern lives (except for losing a loved-one, etc.). So, sometimes our job situations may force us into a form of simplicity that wasn't exactly what we had planned on or volunteered for. Nevertheless, a slower, more thoughtful life can be realized through such a life change and carried on despite our financial status.

Job loss, especially in our dog-eat-dog culture, can be traumatic. And, unfortunately, most of us have experienced it at one time or another. Still, it's a good time to take a deep breath, slow down, and re-evaluate. Also, being prepared, well in advance, is something we should all undertake. Things like over-extending our credit for an unnecessarily expensive car or huge house payment should be avoided at all times. It just makes sense to keep your obligations at a low, manageable level for not only possible job loss but a simpler, more thoughtful existence as well...

- Roger J. Wendell
April 2002




Quittin' Time
  lyrics by Robert Hoyt

I used to get excited about new inventions
I'm sure most were made with the best of intentions
Thought it was cool to put a man on the moon
But now I've begun to sing a different tune

Technology and science have become a religion
Based on bliind faith not conscious decision
When answers cause the problems it's time to stop and think
Slam on the brakes and make a U Turn from the brink

It's Quittin' Time
It's Quittin' Time
It's Quittin' Time on that high tech plantation
It's Quittin' Time
It's Quittin' Time
On that old high tech plantation it's quittin' time for good

They try to tell us how hard it used to be
Back when things tended toward simplicity
But our way of life is based on false pretenses
Cause look at all the unintended consequences

Enslaved by a way of life propped up by lies
Some of us have come to see things through different eyes
Tomorrow there will be more of us than there are today
We're that raagged, jagged cutting edge and we all say




Smaller Homes!

McSorley Lane, Boulder, Colorado by Roger J. Wendell - 02-27-2008 Christopher Solomon, in am msn.com piece on March 19, 2006,
suggested that many Americans may be considering smaller homes.

Solomon started by reminding us that the average American home has more than doubled in size since 1950. "But a number of people are bucking the McMansion trend -- and finding their smaller homes to be more than ample. As an increasing number of Americans see it, our overfed physiques and gargantuan SUVs aren't the only things that could use some slimming down -- the ballooning American home needs to go on a diet, too."

Architect Sarah Susanka's message, in her book The Not So Big House, is simple: Smaller can be beautiful, and better. "There are always going to be people who want the big house, even if they don't need or even use all of that space, and the reason is that a part of our culture associates bigness with success -- a big car, a big house," says Michelle Kodis, author of "Blueprint Small." In her book, "Not So Big," architect Susanka said, "It's time for a different kind of house," "A house that is more than square footage; a house that is Not So Big, where each room is used every day. A house with a floor plan inspired by our informal lifestyle instead of the way our grandparents lived."




What is a Freegan?
From the Freegan Info website, Summer Solstice (June 21) 2009

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.



Affluenza, a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of consumerism. It is thought to have been first used in 1954 but it gained legs as a concept with a 1997 PBS documentary of the same name and the subsequent book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001).

Af-flu-en-za n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.





  1. A Short Dance
  2. Activists - folks on the frontlines!!
  3. Appropriate Technology
  4. Buy Nothing Day United States is always the day after Thanksgiving!
  5. Capitalism - Its Triumphs and its Failures
  6. Cycling
  7. Deep Ecology Living as if Nature Mattered
  8. Earth Day
  9. Earth Friendly things and ideas!
  10. Economics
  11. Fossil Fuels and Peak Oil
  12. Freecycle - worldwide gifting movement to reduces waste & save resources
  1. Fregan Info - strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism
  2. Fuel Economy
  3. Recycling
  4. Resurgence
  5. Simple Living Network - Dave Wampler
  6. Solar and Appropriate Technology
  7. Sustainability
  8. Take Back Your Time
  9. Things you can do for the Earth
  10. Wealth - the concentration of!
  11. Wild Ranch Manifesto by Tim Haugen
  12. Wind and Appropriate Technology




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