Defining Terms in the Simple Living Movement


Simple Living.

defining terms.jpg

Zero Waste.


Nomad/travel lifestyle

Frugal living

Intentional living.

Seven different, yet related, movements, seven different buzzwords, all of which I've been known to use from time to time.

What does it all mean?

If you're feeling a little confused, read on for definitions as well as the vibes associated with each word:

  1. Minimalism: A movement in art and decor in which less is beautiful. Also, a lifestyle of owning a minimum of stuff and also doing less for your own particular reasons: for the aesthetics, for your budget, cleanliness, stress reduction and more. Vibe: the "strictest" on the list and often associated with a modern, monochrome visual style, a keen eye for editing, and the ability to say "no."

  2. Simple Living: A movement that rejects the onslaught of pointless complexity and busyness in our lives. Usually emphasizes quality time with family and friends and simple pleasures like a good meal, a hug, or a sunrise. Vibe: Family friendly, a bit "crunchier" and/or more outdoorsy than minimalism.

  3. Zero Waste: A movement that aims to decrease or almost eliminate household trash entirely. Some focus areas include: bulk buying, reusing, repurposing, repairing, recycling, and composting. Vibe: There's a wide spectrum here, from people just wanting to decrease their use of plastic to a hard core contingent that applies a huge amount of energy to achieve the goal of not needing a trash can in their home.

  4. Essentialism: A movement defined by the 2014 book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. Similar to minimalism, but instead the emphasis is on the essential activities of your life and career more than a culling of your possessions. Vibe: Many of the examples of the book come from the corporate world and specifically the tech world, but the concept can be widely applied to just about any sector of life.

  5. Nomad/travel lifestyle: A trend towards traveling significantly more than is conventional. Often, traveling or living abroad for more of the time than one is in one's home country. While not strictly associated with the above movements, nomads tend to be minimalists because having less stuff makes a traveling lifestyle much easier. It also makes it easier to say "no" to many other things that don't bring joy. Vibe: Often seems limited to young adults without children or retirees, due to the inconveniences of traveling with children. However, there are families up for the challenge. (Including mine!)

  6. Frugal Living: A lifestyle that helps people spend less and save more money. The most financially focused of the movements, frugal living is all about paying off debt, sticking to a budget, staying out of debt, saving money, and finding cheaper ways of doing things. Often associated with the also-money-aware simple living movement. Vibe: Very family focused, very practical, often with a focus on affordable groceries, meals, couponing, and anything to keep to a slim household budget.

  7. Intentional Living: A movement similar in some ways to essentialism in that it's about making thoughtful, conscious choices about what your life will be and nixing the rest. Includes a consideration of the "why" behind actions, especially choices around purchases, travel, career, and living situation. Vibe: Often intentional living advocates are somewhat counter-cultural because they've realized a norm in the culture isn't working for them, or for the environment, or for people they care about.

I hope you find my definitions helpful!

Which movement(s) do you feel most connected to?

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