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Friday, July 4, 2008

Slow Down and Green Up

by Susan Donohoe (Friday, July 4, 2008)

If you're looking to live a simpler life, then next week is for you! U.S. National Downshifting Week is a way to care for the environment and focus on the things that really matter. Embrace your inner Thoreau.

Are you familiar with U.S. National Downshifting Week? Well let me tell you all about it.

It’s a voluntary simplicity awareness campaign sponsored by the non-profit organization Conscious Consuming. U.S. National Downshifting Week builds on the work of Tracey Smith, the founder of National Downshifting Week in the UK. U.S. National Downshifting week is scheduled for next week – July 7-13, 2007 – and is designed to help participants "Slow Down and Green Up."

As you may know, downshifting involves cutting out unnecessary expenditures, cultivating a simpler lifestyle (thus leaving a lighter environmental footprint), and making more time for the things you want to do. Data from the mid-90's from the Trends Research Institute shows that about 10% of Americans identify with downshifting, voluntary simplicity, and simple living. Duane Elgin, author of several books on voluntary simplicity, calls this a "conservative estimate."

Many Americans are cutting back consumption this year due to higher food, health care, and fuel prices. The freefall in the housing market has also been a factor in reducing consumption, as home equity credit tightens and people feel a loss in their net wealth. Instead of feeling down about buying less stuff, many Americans celebrate their decision to downshift.

Smith says, "A positive approach to living with less helps you re-think ways to enjoy time with your loved ones without reaching for your wallet."

The dates for National Downshifting Week (July 7-13th) were chosen to coincide with the birthday of America's most famous downshifter, Henry David Thoreau (born July 12, 1817).

"Modern downshifters don't have to move into a cabin in the woods to simplify their lives. Happiness depends on knowing when you have enough, and finding ways to do the things you love to do without spending a ton of money," says Susan Donohoe, of Conscious Consuming.

"Downshifters can live deliberately, leave a lighter footprint on the earth, and have even more time with their families and friends."

To learn more and to see how you can celebrate Downshifting Week, visit their Web site.

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