Overwhelming simplicity

July 5, 2012

I’ve been reading too much lately.  That’s not true, I guess; I don’t think that’s possible.  I’ve been reading too many “simplifying” books recently.  That is true.  There comes a point where you get past good information and great ideas and run, full tilt, and fall off the cliff into a great morass of guilt.  The most recent book I read (which shall remain nameless, since I’m complaining about it) seemed to focus, extensively, on how horrible we Americans are in our consumption; especially compared to the majority of the world.  Which I already know, and hear repeatedly, and get tired of hearing repeatedly, and which frustrates me beyond belief.  Because what can I do about 312 million other people?  Besides feel guilty, I mean.

I can’t do anything about Americans’ excesses.  I know it’s out there, constant excess and consumption and a desire for more; it’s everywhere, and thanks to the creation of the automobile and the interstate system, we’re all doomed…. (Sorry.  Headed for the cliff again.)

I can’t do anything about Americans’ excesses….but I can do something about my family’s.  Here, in this house, this is where I have some modicum of control and can actually do something, and even though it’s unbelievably small, it’s what I can do.  In little babysteps, because it overwhelms me to try to do anymore.

So…babysteps:

We’ve given up drinking pop at home.  (I do still drink it in restaurants…. I love fountain Coke!!)  Do a bit of research on the environmental costs of the creation of soda pop (besides the obvious health costs) and you might give it up, too.

Started making bread, until our bread machine appeared to break.  There was a bit of (more guilt-washed) Do we buy a new bread machine?  I’ll never make bread from scratch on a regular basis…but how can we justify buying a new machine?  Then I fixed the machine myself (yeah, I’m kind of proud of that moment) and I’m back to making bread.  Probably not always, but often.  (Dear Sara Lee:  I’m so glad to see your new bread has no high fructose corn syrup.  Unfortunately I prefer my six-ingredient list to your paragraph.  I’m afraid I won’t be seeing as much of you as I used to…..sorry.)

Quit buying granola bars and cereal bars and started making our own.  (This goes back to the paragraph-long ingredient lists, and my attempt to rid our house of high-fructose corn syrup.)  Our family loves my peanut butter bars; I always have to make a double batch.

Just bought a cheese slicer today (we had an old broken one that we never used) and plan on not buying anymore presliced, individually packaged cheese.  (Gasp!  No more cheese sticks!)  We’ll see how that goes…..

Do I even need to mention recycling?  We’re crazy blessed to have curbside recycling where we live, but I used to store our recyclables and haul them to the center myself.  So glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

Little bit by little bit.  I’ll add to my list as things become habit….it’s a start, at least; even if I never counteract the 312 million other Americans out there.

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3 Responses to “Overwhelming simplicity”


  1. And one Canadian!!! 🙂

  2. Janelle Says:

    I love the “small bite” approach you are taking. I’m the same, and am doing many of the same things as you. I get the same way when I am reading too much on a single topic. It’s a tunnel vision kind of thing. And I almost feel that by reading about it, I’m doing it already. At some point I have to put down the book and live the life! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • jenfletcher Says:

      Days after I posted this, I was still realizing things we do that have actually become enough of a habit that I’ve stopped thinking about them. (We’ve just about completely given up paper towels, for example.) It’s nice to think that eventually all these things really WILL be habits, and I can do them without even stopping to think. And then add a few more items…. 🙂

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