Vermont family tries to have it all by giving it all away

Filed under: In The News, Going Green

When my husband and I moved from a 700 square foot apartment to a big, old, four bedroom house ten years ago, we had more empty rooms than we did full. We couldn't imagine filling the extra space. Then we went and had kids. Kids, as you know, are kind of like those instant grow sponges. Put a baby in your home, add a little water, and suddenly there are toys and kid gear in every corner of your living space.

For some families, though, the material trappings of family life turn out to be a major turn-off. Take the Harrises, currently of Texas. They've decided to donate all of their possessions to charity and to move to Vermont to live a self-sustaining life off the land. Other families interviewed sold all of their possessions so that they could make their home on the road. One family said, "We never wanted four walls and beige carpet."

It's called "voluntary simplicity" or "downshifting," and its roots probably lie in the hippie-centric 60s. But with new concerns about environmental issues, oil, and food safety, some families are finding comfort in a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

Though I'm a Freecycle addict who regularly weeds out things we don't need (and tries to limit what comes into the house in the first place), I'd have a hard time walking away from the structure of my daily life, especially with kids in tow. I'd only last a week in the Vermont wilderness, but less is more is definitely a concept I wish I could master.

What about you? Is the simpler life appealing to you, or are you comforted by your cozy surroundings?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.