Kate: Has the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) encouraged you to think about more frugal living? If so then you’re not alone. It seems that there is a burgeoning frugality movement around the world: people who see a virtue and necessity in constructing a simpler life.
Antony Funnell highlighted the growth in frugal blogs recently in Radio National’s FutureTense. One Australian frugal blog is Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel. Rhonda strives for self sufficiency on an acre of land in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland. She’s had almost 1.5 million hits to her blog and has formed an international community of frugal bloggers at Simple Green Frugal Co-op. Although the simplicity movement has been around a long time (remember The Good Life?), frugality seems to be becoming mainstream today due to focus on sustainablility. Another member of Simple Green Frugal Co-op is Michelle Snape who inspired by her 101 year old grandmother quit her job as a lawyer to attempt to live ‘a simple, joyful, more sustainable, more family orientated life’ in Port Macquarie. The principles she outlines in A Vision Splendid reflect the motivation of many people interested frugality to simplify their life both to enjoy greater self sufficiency and to reduce their ecological footprint. These include: growing your own and buying local produce; reducing waste and use of resources; energy efficiency; DIY and buying second hand; and living without debt. Many frugal lifers are sea or tree changers although there are also numerous examples of people trying to live more simply and sustainably in cities. A recent Notebook Magazine article SeaChange in the Suburbs profiled Australian’s who are trying to live more frugally and sustainably without quitting their city jobs. In fact if you live in an Australian city you’re probably well aware that your local city council has been encouraging you to adopt frugal principles for sometime. Brisbane City Council, for example, in their Green Heart City Smart Program encourages residents to ‘be wise and minimise’ use of energy, water and waste as well as to grow their own food and shop locally.
So what are the implications of burgeoning frugality for business and innovators? There’s obviously going to be a market for ‘environmentally friendly’ products that are very cost effective (The phenomenal popularity of the old fashioned, cheap and green cleaning ideas in the ABC’s ‘Spotless‘ books is one example). Recent developments in clean technology sales such as Pay as you go Solar Electricity Schemes seem well placed to take advantage of desire for self sufficiency and sustainability. Also ideas that link local producers with consumers in the manner of farmers markets and fruit box schemes are meeting frugal principles. Could this be a focus for emerging technologies? I’d welcome other thoughts about ideas and technologies that could support frugal living.