Voluntary Simplicity: Creating a Sustainable Future

By Dove, Roxana A.; Bailey, Sue | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, April 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Voluntary Simplicity: Creating a Sustainable Future

Dove, Roxana A., Bailey, Sue, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Trends Research Institute estimated that 88.5 million people would pursue a scaled-down lifestyle by 2002 (Guidera, 1995). The essence of voluntary simplicity is a life in harmony with one's authentic self, while striking a balance with humanity and the environment.

Richard Gregg ([1936] 1977) coined the term voluntary simplicity and defined it as:

. . . singleness of purpose, sincerity, and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose (p. 20).

The search for simple living has existed throughout history and the "new trend" of voluntary simplicity brings together past ideas and values. Shi (1986) illustrated in his book that simple living has always been a prominent aspect of American life.

People are drawn to volunteer simplicity for a number of reasons:

Seeking Solutions to Societal Needs

Individuals involved in the movement cite materialism, debt, environmental crisis, and alienation from authentic self and community as the problems with contemporary society. Dominguez and Robin (1992) state, "It's debt that keeps us with our noses to the grindstone making a dying to pay off pleasures we've long forgotten and luxuries we scarcely have time to enjoy" (p. 160).

Creating a Meaningful Life

The reasons to simplify are to create a meaningful and purposeful life, cultivate values that improve one's quality of life, and enhance time. Levering and Urbanska (1992) desire to have ". . . time out to write letters, time to set on the porch watching the sun go down, enjoying time. Time to visit . . . linger with the newspaper. The simple sorts of things that unfrazzled people do" (p. 94).

Connecting with Others

Voluntary simplicity is about authenticity, frugality, and spirituality. It is being ecocentric; that is, having a concern for others and the environment. "Without the authentic self, one cannot meet the needs of connection, connecting with self, others, and a wider universe" (Andrews, 1997, p. 72).

Articulating a Sustainable Agenda

The voluntary simplicity movement agenda is holistic.

At the personal level we need a magnified global awareness and simpler ways of living.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Voluntary Simplicity: Creating a Sustainable Future


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?