Publish at July 14 2021 Updated July 08 2022

5 tips for living more simply and naturally

Why voluntary simplicity is necessary for sustainable development

Country landscape

In a previous post, I shared three key principles for simplifying one's life: reflection, categorization and prioritization. Just as minimalism pushes us to keep only the essentials; voluntary simplicity pushes us to buy only the necessities! While the first article presented the philosophical foundations of voluntary simplicity, this one is a continuation, to answer a central question, posed by readers of the first article, "With practical examples, what does a life guided by the ideal of sobriety and simplicity look like?"

The principles and various examples below, can further illuminate and guide the adoption of a lifestyle relying on voluntary simplicity.

  1. Go natural, without motors.

When was the last time you walked voluntarily, avoiding motor noises? What type of medicine do you favor when you are sick? Do you turn to modern pharmaceutical medicine or natural medicine with, for example, homeopathy, herbs, essential oils, grandmother's remedies.

  1. Reduce your ecological impact

Voluntary simplicity goes further than minimalism, as it is reflected by an ecological attitude:

  • Taking short showers to save water,
  • Walking or biking instead of driving (carpooling or public transportation when necessary),
  • Growing one's own food by having a vegetable garden or farm and storing surplus crops;
  • Using rechargeable objects(batteries for example).
  1. Simplifying one's life through decluttering or the art of sorting and sharing.

"Are all these things I own necessary for me? How much time per week, per month, per year do I need to spend putting them away, filing them away, all that time when I could be enjoying life?"

It's essential to ask yourself this question before embarking on the practice of decluttering. As for me, ihave to regularly sort clothes, useless items, cracked dishes, dented pots and pans, cheesy souvenirs, etc. Your closet is full, but do you really wear all the clothes you own? After sorting, you could sell these items at the local flea market or donate them to charity. This way, your precious and useful objects will be more highlighted and the others quickly forgotten. With a decluttered interior, you'll have less cleaning and less stress.

Others regularly declutter at specific times of the year, such as Christmas Eve. This is the case, for example, with Bea Johnson and her Zero Waste Home: in 4 years, her family produced the equivalent of one jar in waste. This was only achieved after a radical simplification of the entire family's daily life, with a drastic reduction in the number of "unnecessary" items in the home. What aspect of your life also needs to be de-cluttered? Do you have the courage to part with (throw away or donate) your things?

By regularly parting with obsolete or no longer necessary items, we maintain a simple living ethic centered on the essentials, devoid of the superfluous[1]. Less goods, more connections. Let's share, let's exchange, let's favor mutual aid, brotherhood and friendship because there is more joy and happiness in giving than in receiving.

  1. Control your buying urges and resist advertising attractions

The link between advertising and buying is one of cause and effect. To better control your buying urges, avoid anything that can stimulate those urges. Here are some practical tips that have helped me:

  • Borrow and recycle instead of buying. For example, don't be ashamed or embarrassed to borrow books, games, DVDs etc. from the library or use public or community services. Prefer outings outside, which do not cost anything: a hike instead of a movie, a day swimming at the river instead of the water park ... The options are endless!
  1. Consume local (foods, clothing, travel...)

In Ghana, 80% of my food consumption is organic. When I go to the market, I prefer products from local farmers, even if their brands are unknown and the packaging unattractive. Organic food or food from a local farmer is generally of better quality and more economical than supermarket food. In addition, you could save money on transportation and an organic diet prevents diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer etc. Yet no one is unaware that prevention is better than cure.

Let's take it easy!

After going through the examples presented under these 5 principles, you must feel that it is a (perhaps long) list of laborious rules[1] to follow every day. Designing it this way would make the practice rather complex or even complicated, which is far from an ideal of simplicity. That's why I encourage you to go gradually.

There are certainly some minimalist or simplistic activities that you had already adopted without perhaps realizing that this was a component of a simplistic philosophy of life. If you're just anxious about riding the bus, don't sell your car yet! Just take concrete actions every day, at your own pace, to "de-clutter" your life and allow us to enjoy what's around us rather than feeling trapped in a lifestyle that doesn't suit us or no longer does.

A manual side

Voluntary simplicity is indirectly a call to live more without a motor, "by walking, pedaling, climbing, shoveling, with a wheelbarrow, a grinder, a hand tool. Anything we can do with our own strength. With a pencil, a brush, a chisel, a hammer. With our mind alone. With words, with a musical instrument, without amplification," to quote Denys Lamontagne.

Lightening one's life of all that clutters it is a way of privileging being over having[2], and consequently to value human relations and solidarity[3], which also allows voluntary simplicity to address not only the addicts of buying fever, but also the excluded from commercial circuits for insolvency[4], and even to leader-managers who apply some of the principles of voluntary simplicity through the agile method.

This path of voluntary simplicity is not a dogmatic straitjacket: choosing not to follow fashion or consume differently is a lucid act, at a given moment, that can be revisited if it is no longer appropriate. It is a path where I encourage everyone to commit themselves little by little, at their own pace. In the end, it is a lifestyle that contributes to our personal fulfillment and to a sustainable development[5], allowing us to make the most of the resources that the earth, nature and work offer us.

Notes and References

[1] Lahille Philippe, "The 10 Tips for Getting Started," accessed June 29, 2021,

[2] Simplicity is the opposite of duplicity, of complexity, of pretension. That's why it is so difficult.

[3] Thierry Brugvin, 6 Paths to Solidarity Degrowth, 2018,

[4] Moreschi Cécile, "Voluntary simplicity to improve one's quality of life," accessed June 29, 2021,

[5] On the planet, the most favored countries and individuals are also the most responsible for global warming and the programmed end of non-renewable resources, such as metals, energy or oil before the end of the century. The massive adoption of voluntary simplicity as a lifestyle could drastically change the situation in a few years since it integrates environmental, economic, social and personal considerations. To think that voluntary simplicity is only motivated by financial reasons is to miss the whole essence of this movement, which is one of the alternatives - social ecology, eco-socialism etc. - to reduce the crazy consumerism and the lack of money. - to curb the current crazy and destructive consumerism.


Do you really need it? - Pierre-Yves McSween

Willful simplicity, more than ever... Serge Mongeau

See more articles by this author




Access exclusive services for free

Subscribe and receive newsletters on:

  • The lessons
  • The learning resources
  • The file of the week
  • The events
  • The technologies

In addition, index your favorite resources in your own folders and find your history of consultation.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Add to my playlists

Create a playlist

Receive our news by email

Every day, stay informed about digital learning in all its forms. Great ideas and resources. Take advantage, it's free!