Amy Dacyczyn, author of the 1990s wildly popular The Tightwad Gazette, once remarked that frugal living is often synonymous with green living.
Of course, this makes sense. If you’re frugal, you’ll likely take steps to save money such as not using disposable products like paper napkins and paper towels. Instead, you’ll choose items like cloth napkins and cloth towels. You’ll reuse items to avoid buying new ones, which keep more items out of the landfills.
Living a Frugal Life in the Present with a Mindset in the Past
My grandma was one of the greenest people I knew. She washed every plastic baggie she used as well as tin foil and other kitchen necessities to reuse later. She didn’t do this to be green, though. She did it because she was a teen during the years of the Great Depression and those frugal habits died hard.
While my grandma kept the mindset of scarcity and frugality from the years of the Great Depression, she did take advantage of modern conveniences like an automobile (though their car in retirement was a Volkswagen Rabbit, about the smallest car you could find then).
However, one modern woman has taken this type of frugal and green living a step further and is living in a time warp she has created.
Living Like It’s the 1930s Every Day
Yahoo! recently featured the story of Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse who lives in Amsterdam. She owns a historical consultancy company and has chosen to live her life as if she lives in the 1930s. The only modern conveniences in her home are her computer (which she needs to do her job) and a refrigerator because she’s not been able to find an authentic ice box or someone to deliver the necessary ice to her.
The article includes a link to plenty of pictures showing her apartment furnished with simple pictures and furniture. Teeuwisse herself wears dresses from the era as well as stockings, which she darns whenever she needs to.
Teeuwisse says of her lifestyle, “‘I just started doing it as an experiment to see what it was like, to learn about the past, and then I realized that I liked doing it that way and saved lots of money, that it was better for the environment, and that I didn’t have to put a big ugly white metal or plastic nosy box in my house’ Teeuwise said, referring to modern appliances like washers and dryers” (Yahoo!)
What is apparent, when looking at the photos, is how much more “stuff” and electronics those of us who dwell in the 21st century have. Teeuwisse’s home is clutter free. She does not have any extras thanks to ill-advised shopping sprees.
She also does not have a television, cell phone, iPad, e-reader, answering machine, or any other of the multitude of electronic devices we have now.
In fact, I found myself wondering what she does in the evenings without all of the interruptions and distractions we have in modern life. Have friends over? Enjoy a good book?
Living like she’s in the 1930s must afford her a great deal of financial freedom. In our home, we try to minimize our reliance on technology with pay-as-we-go cell phones, no cable television (opting for a Netflix subscription instead), and no video games. Still, we pay at least $400 a year for our technology habit. I imagine for someone who is really hooked on technology, expenses could easily climb into the thousands per year between paying for upgrades in the latest electronics and monthly fees.
Would You Want to Live Like Teeuwisse?
Most people wouldn’t take the drastic steps that Teeuwisse has to try to live in a simpler time. However, many of us could choose to live more like Dacyczyn has and live a simpler, more frugal life.
Yet, does this type of lifestyle appeal to you?
Apparently, it does appeal to many people. When I read the comments to the Teeuwisse article, I expected most people to bash her and her lifestyle choices. Instead, I found comments from hundreds of people who commended her and her choices. Many others commented on their own frugal (and green) activities such as growing their own vegetables in a garden, foregoing a dishwasher, only using one car, etc.
Many of the commenters equated living a simpler, more frugal lifestyle with having more happiness and time for relaxing and enjoying life.
What do you think about Teeuwisse and her lifestyle? Is it something you’d consider?