Mary and her family discovered they got along fine after getting rid of gadgets many people take for granted –like a microwave and a television . “Sometimes I just cut out various items or categories of things that other people think are essential.  I haven't had a microwave in years and I don't miss it a bit.  It took up too much space and mostly what we made in it was popcorn.  You really can make popcorn in a skillet, and you really can re-heat food on the stove very quickly. … We got rid of TV about 15 years ago, but our kids watch plenty of movies on our DVD player or on the computer.”

They also defray the high cost of gasoline by eliminating unnecessary car trips and riding their bikes instead. “With traffic, parking, etc., you can often do your errands faster on bike,” said Mary.  “Of course, you can't bring back groceries for a family of six on your bike.  But there are quite a few errands you can do with a backpack on your back and a rack on your bike.  My husband rides his bike to work (6.8 miles) and he uses Google maps to discover really workable, safe, and little-known bike routes to his office and other destinations within a 10-mile radius.” 

Making a successful transition to a simpler lifestyle is possible for anyone who makes just one simple choice at a time, said Birch. “The changes don’t have to be drastic. You don’t have to suddenly start wearing burlap. Find little changes to make and start there. Underneath those will be more little changes, and then you’ll uncover your values.”