The Simple(r) Life: The gateway sacrifice

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I am a simplification newbie.

Though I've always been stubborn and loved to do things authentically -- I whisk my butter and cream by hand, I use a film camera, I once pieced a quilt with only needle and thread, by God -- I did not come easy to simplification. I used to scoff at those who would give up plastic, and who would home school, and raise all their vegetables in their very own garden. I secretly made fun of composters.

And then, one day, I decided to give up our family car. Though my husband eventually came to embrace the choice as his own, I was rather forceful about it. We'd gotten a flat tire, and the car was due for all kinds of expensive tune-ups and fix-its. We were a little late with our insurance renewal.

It wasn't really as hard as it seems.
And let me know how it goes.

We live on a bus line and we both have bicycles in a city that's very friendly to alternative modes of transport. It turns out that our then-two and now-three boys really love riding the bus! And if you've ever tried to calm an angry baby from the front seat of a car, you'll know that sometimes having a child strapped to you is far better on your nerves. There were side benefits you wouldn't expect: for instance, we couldn't possibly give our babysitter a ride home; we were sorry, but we couldn't help our suburban friends move. We saved a lot of money because we couldn't really go to Costco or Target for those lazy indulgent shopping trips any more.

After that, things kind of fell into place. I started gardening, and a compost heap was a natural first step. We got chickens, both pets and eggs and natural pest control/garbage disposal/life affirmers. We looked at our garbage can each week with growing nausea; we discovered how to recycle all kinds of things that had never occurred to us before. We started keeping a big tote bag on the front porch to fill with un-needed clutter to bring to Goodwill.

For us, giving up the car was the gateway sacrifice that led to many others. Now my very own husband -- the guy who used to drive our Mercedes SUV two blocks to the convenience store -- re-uses the glass pizza sauce bottles for leftovers and studiously scrapes plates into a special bowl for the chickens (they really like rice, pasta, and leftover pizza).

If you're flirting with the idea of finding a simple(r) life; maybe changing your lightbulbs to those corkscrews, or stopping your junk mail?; I have to recommend a big "gateway sacrifice" like mine. Move to a smaller house with a bigger yard; sell your car, quick, before you change your mind; or vow, right here and now, to never use a credit card again. You don't have to change your whole life today, but start with One Big Thing.

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