Simplify, Reuse, Make Do

Not to state the obvious, but the economy is not doing very well. What we hoped would be a year of economic recovery has been a continuation of an economic slump. We are well beyond pointing fingers or finding blame, and I am beginning to wonder if it is even possible for our monetary woes to be solved on a political level.

I think that perhaps our financial despair needs to be resolved by you, me, our neighbors, and our community. Perhaps it is as simple as each of us taking a number of small, fiscally conscious steps that will eventually lead us out of this crisis. Perhaps we need do to as my grandparents did when they weathered the Great Depression: simplify, reuse, and make do.

In 1981, Duane Elgin published the book Voluntary Simplicity: An Ecological Lifestyle that Promotes Personal and Social Renewal. Elgin says voluntary simplicity is “a manner of living that is outwardly more simple and inwardly more rich; an integrative way of living that balances both inner and outer aspects of our lives; a deliberate choice to live with less in the belief that more will be returned to us in the process.”

But how to put voluntary simplicity and the wisdom of those who survived The Great Depression into action?

Luckily, East Side Books has shelves of books devoted to the ideas of voluntary simplicity such as The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. This volume is full of strategies to make life easier, simpler, and cheaper. For example, Luhrs suggests a number of inexpensive date activities such as stargazing with a sale bottle of wine; creating a film fest by renting a series of movies like all the Star Wars films; and checking out free concerts at coffee bars, bookstores, and parks. Along these same lines but with more of a philosophical slant is the book The Yankee Way to Simplify Your Life by Jay Heinrichs and the Editors of Yankee Magazine.

If you are wanting to make do with what you have, check out Practical Problem Solver Reader’s Digest. Practical Problem Solver can help you find “substitutes, shortcuts, and ingenious solutions for making life easier.” Need to get rid of garden pest? Spray aphids, mealybugs, and other soft-bodied insects with full strength rubbing alcohol. If PMS has got you down, try 20 minutes of aerobic exercise Cialis. Remove wall paper with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and warm water.

If money is tight, pick up Make It Last by the Editors of Yankee Magazine. This book will teach you “over 1,000 ingenious ways to extend the life of everything you own.” Bananas on the edge of turning brown can been thrown directly into the freezer, peel and all, until you need them for baking later on. (This works, I’ve tried it.) It is hard to resist the list for “12 Uses for Dead Panty Hose” including keeping a pair in the trunk of the car to use as an emergency replacement for a broken engine belt.

East Side Books also carries copies of How to Fix Damn Near Everything by Franklin Peterson and The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual put out by Reader’s Digest.

If you need some ideas for how to make things stretch in the kitchen check out our numerous cookbooks by Frugal Gourmet Jeff Smith. Smith had a long running cooking show on PBS featuring inexpensive recipes. I have used a number of his cookbooks and find the recipes not only to be simple and cost effective, but tasty as well. We also have a cookbook by the famous chef James Beard entitled Eat Better for Less Money. He says that eating cheaply is a snap with “a little imagination.”

Sometimes a little support is helpful when making choices to do without. For encouragement, check out our Inspiration Section. Gifts of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a beautifully written reminder to slow down and appreciate nature. I always find that my priorities are set straight after reading the short essays by Robert Fulghum in his bestselling book All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Plain and Simple by Sue Bender is one of my favorite books. Obsessed with the Amish, Bender left her busy life in California to go live with the Amish and learn their ways. If you need daily inspiration, check out Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

East Side Books is an excellent first stop on the road to economic recovery. Our gently used books are not only inexpensive, but also an excellent way to conserve and recycle.

If you need any assistance finding the above mentioned books, our staff is happy to help.

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