Slow vs Simple Living: Which Is Right for You?

slow vs simple living - slow your roll mug

slow vs simple living - slow your roll mug


What is slow living? How is it different than simple living and is it right for you? Are you interested in living more simply as a way to make a difference in the world? If so, slow living may be for you. Keep reading for more insight and ideas to guide you on your simple + slow journey.

What does slow living mean? When choosing simple living one aims to reduce their belongings, live more frugally and/or be more self-sufficient. However, with slow living the main goals are to live more sustainably, support local organic businesses and most importantly – slow down.

If you’re like me, your ears perk up when you hear the slow down part, but there are many more reasons to love slow living. Let’s explore some of the similarities and differences and then we’ll dive into some helpful tips for both.

Slow Living vs Simple Living

Slow living and simple living share many ideas in common. Sustainability, green living and reducing stress are a few of the overlapping themes.

slow vs simple living themes list

What is Slow Living?

The concept of slow living grew out of the slow food movement which originated in Rome in the 1980s with the protest of a McDonald’s opening lead by a fellow named Carlo Petrini. Over time the movement has grown and an acronym has been created for slow to represent the different messages the slow food movement aims to address.

S = Sustainable

L = Local

O = Organic

W = Whole

Farm to table is a popular restaurant trend that has grown out of the slow food movement where the mission is to serve nutrition rich locally grown organic food straight from the farm. Chances are you have a farm-to-table dining option near you. The Eat Well Guide website maintains a searchable library of 25,000+ restaurants and markets where you can locate options near you for sustainable food.

While the movement started with food it has now branched out into many of other facets including slow living, slow fashion, slow money and slow parenting. Here is an overview of the main concepts behind each at a high level.

Slow Living – slow down, appreciate the moments rather than rush through them, connect with yourself, those around you and the world

Slow Fashion – avoid fast fashion and support sustainable brands who are transparent about their production processes and produce quality items that last

Slow Money – channel money into producing local healthy food and strengthening communities versus multinational corporations

Slow Parenting – strive to balance a child’s need of structure with the freedom to struggle, explore and figure some things out on their own

6 Tips for Slow Living

1.) Designate Device Free Time

Our lives are so busy we can often go days without taking a moment to just be. Try setting aside some time each day to turn off the TV and put away the smartphone. Brew a cup of tea, pour a glass of wine, read a book or just sit and enjoy the silence. Moments like these are great for reflection and relaxation.

2.) Practice Mindfulness

Choose an activity you do everyday. Instead of doing it mindlessly or thinking about work, obligations or other distractions while you do it, focus fully on what you’re doing. Engage all your senses in the process. If making a cup of hot tea take in the smell of the tea leaves and the warmth of the cup. Drink it slowly and notice the feel and taste of the tea in your mouth. You can do this anytime and with any activity you do throughout the day.

3.) Cook Your Meals at Home

Not only is preparing your own food at home from scratch healthier for you, you typically save a bunch of money. Also, you get the satisfaction of having it made it yourself. Consider meal prepping ahead of time if you don’t have time to cook everyday, or throwing something in a crockpot in the morning for an easy home cooked dinner.

4.) Eat Vegetarian or Vegan When Possible

If you don’t have access to local organic grass-fed meat and dairy options, incorporate vegetarian and vegan meals into your meal plan often. It’s not only healthier for you, but is often the more sustainable and environmental option.

5.) Get Out and Enjoy Nature

A lot of us don’t get outside often enough. Getting out in the fresh air and taking a walk is a great way to get daily vitamin D, lift your spirits and stay healthy. It helps you disconnect from daily stresses and reconnect with both yourself and nature.

6.) Pick Up a Hobby

There are so many benefits to having a hobby. A hobby can calm you, inspire you, bring out your creative side and give your life more satisfaction. So instead of plopping down on the sofa in the evenings and watching TV use that time to explore a hobby instead. It can even be as simple as reading a book.

What is Simple Living?

Throughout history many people have advocated and encouraged others to live more simply such as Henry David Thoreau a naturalist and author. The term “simple life” itself dates back to 1887 when it was popularized in an essay by Edward Carpenter.

However, in the US it is only more recently that the concept has gained more exposure and popularity. Mainly from a popular book called The Simple Living Guide and the minimalism movement which both came about in the late 1990s.

Similar to slow living, the ideals behind simple living have branched into many different living practices around the globe. Some of the most popular include minimalism, F.I.R.E., tiny house movement, self-sufficiency and green living. Here is an overview of the main concepts behind each at a high level.

Minimalism – reduce your amount of belongings and remove any excess so you can focus on experiences and not worldly possessions

F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) – maximize your savings, drastically reduce living expenses and accumulate assets that last so paid work becomes optional

Tiny House Movement – live small in a house less than 400 sq. ft. to consume less and be economically safe

Self-sufficiency – live frugally and grow or raise most of your food so you’re less reliant on outside resources, live off the land

Green Living – live sustainably in ways that seek to balance conservation and preservation of the earth’s natural resources, zero waste

6 Tips for Simple Living

1.) Create a Budget

Money can be one of the biggest stressors in our lives. Creating a budget is a great starting point for simplifying your life. Having a budget also helps you identify what your values are and what is important to you which is one of the first steps of moving towards simple living.

2.) Declutter Your House

You probably see this on a lot of simple living lists, but that’s because it’s that dang important. Living with clutter zaps your energy and adds undo stress. Clearing out the excess makes day to day living easier giving you more time to spend with family and friends.

3.) Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We often buy things or set goals for ourselves based on what someone else has or is doing. This can lead to a negative mindset. It can also can set you back and sidetrack you on your path to living more simply. Part of living more simply is living YOUR values so try to focus on your goals, not those of others.

4.) Spend Less Time on Social Media

We’ve all fallen into the social media black hole at one time or another. You get on to check one thing and the next thing you know 30 minutes, an hour, or more time has passed. Social media is one of the biggest distractors in our modern lives and can be a big waste of time. Try setting a time each day that you allow yourself to check social media and don’t go over that allotted time.

5.) Create a Meal Plan

Planning your meals ahead for the entire week makes preparing your meals during the week much less stressful. You don’t have to scramble to figure out what’s for dinner. And on busy nights when you’re too tired to think about what to prepare, you don’t have to because you already have a plan. Additionally you only buy what you need at the grocery store which will save you time and money.

6.) Allow Yourself to Dream

Try giving yourself the time and space to just dream about your life. What do you want your future to look like? Where are some places you’d love to go? What experiences do you want to have? Not only does dreaming help us have a positive mindset, but it can help us figure out what our values are and be a guide for setting long-term life goals.

Which is Right for You?

After reading this you’ve seen that there are many ideas that overlap for both slow and simple living and ideally you’ve been inspired to try some of the tips for both.

The most important thing to remember is that life is not a race so start where you are. Starting where you are means truly embracing the don’t compare yourself to others tip. Decide to try some of the suggestions offered here and only use yourself and your progress as a gauge. Little things and small changes make a big impact over time.

Related Questions

How can I support local farmers?

Most likely you have a local farmers market or community service agriculture (CSA) in your area. These can be a great resource for supporting sustainable farmers and purchasing heathy organic food, sometimes for less than you pay at the grocery store. This article from Seedstock list many ways to support local farmers and also provides resources for finding a CSA is your area.

What are some ways I can be more sustainable?

Here is a quick list to get you started:

  • bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store
  • buy a reusable water bottle and stop buying bottled water
  • wash your clothes in cold water
  • only buy what you need when you need it
  • carpool and take public transportation when you can, or walk/bike when possible
  • buy used and vintage instead of new
  • recycle (this one is an oldie, but a goodie)

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