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March 23, 2018  |  Login
Downshifting to Go Green
By Alexis Steinkamp
There's never been a better time to slow dow.

The recession is in full swing-high unemployment, falling markets and devalued real estate. Everyone seems to be swapping thrifty tips. Suddenly, it's difficult to justify more money for organic or local. But, you don't have to chuck your values just because you're tightening your belt. Downshifting is a green lifestyle that actually saves, well, green!

Change Gears

Downshifting is the process of embracing simplicity through reducing personal consumption to develop a more purposeful life. It's the art of eliminating the stuff that fills, but doesn't add to life. It's an opportunity to slow down, conserve precious resources, reduce waste and enjoy the things that money can't buy.

Downshift a Little; Downshift a lot

Downshifting isn't a quick fix; it's a flexible lifestyle. You decide the what, when, how and how much. So, instead of taking three trips a year, this year downshift to two and plan a staycation. Try living without a car and downshift to public transportation. Or, choose to start small by using half as much laundry detergent or giving up paper towels. You're in the driver's seat.

Downshift Consumption

To reduce personal consumption, try downshifting shopping. Purchase only necessities-clothing, food and medicine. Go shopping in your closet before you hit the mall. According to Environmental Health Perspectives, the average American discards approximately 66 pounds of clothing every year. Only 15% of that amount makes it to a thrift store [1]. Take care of your possessions and make them last. Don't replace appliances until it's time-to find out when, visit When you do go shopping, make sure you purchase products that are built to last and try to buy used. Reducing consumption automatically reduces the amount of waste that hits the landfill or must be recycled.


One way to guarantee downshifting is to downsize to a smaller living space. The size of houses has ballooned while family size is shrinking. Between 1950 and 2000, the average living space per person in the US grew 188%[2]. Why do Americans suddenly need so much space? Past generations raised entire families in a house with just one bathroom. more


[1] Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 115, Number 9, September 2007

[2] University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems U.S. Environmental Factsheets,



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