Tuesday, February 19, 2013

John Robbins' The New Good Life: Living better than ever in an age of less

On loan from the library, I have been reading a recent book by John Robbins.  A prolific writer, this is the second book of his I checked out from the library.  For context, his last name is Robbins, as in the ice cream company.  In his early 20s he left his family, and their fortune, on moral grounds.  And when he writes about living on less, wow, did he live on next to nothing.

Books likes these remind me of concept cars on display at annual car shows.  Way outside the norm, life on the fringe.  I enjoy this type of books, but at times they make me feel less than adequate.  Then I remind myself that a little here and a little there, incremental change, that is fine, it is sustainable.  Living on an island in Canada, growing all our own food, and spending $500 in a year....well that isn't going to happen in my life.  It might be possible, but it is not what I want.

Why do I spend valuable time on these frugal concept books?  Almost always I find nuggets I can use in my own life or receive motivation to make one small change.  In this case, I will be trying a tofu and chive spread that he recommends in the food section -- eating lower on the food chain is his mantra.  It will save money and put more whole foods on the table.  And tofu is not a regular guest in my grocery cart.  It used to be when I had babies (mash and serve), but in recent years it has faded.  Stay tuned for a review later on.....I have yet to make the dish.

And his section on electric dyers motivated me to hang dry the floor rugs I routinely wash on Sundays.  They are too heavy to go the drying rack (I learned that the hard way....found a heap on the floor the next day) so I used pant hangers and the shower rod to dry them.  Electric dryers (which we have -- installing gas will happen when this dryer goes) use twice the power.  And in the winter, in the upper Midwest where the forced heat is a constant, the air is dry.  Line drying is efficient and allows for a bit more moisture in the home.  Happily I have now reduced one regular dryer use each week.

I recommend this book if you are looking for options to mix into your frugal life.  If you are new to frugality, it might give you the wrong impression.  We do not all grow our own food and tend to miniature goats in our backyard.  Frugal can be quite easy and not require huge life changes.

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