lifestyle simple living

Living out degrowth in the suburbs

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Degrowth in the Suburbs, a book by Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson. I’ve read several books and reports by Sam Alexander over the years, including Simple Living in History, Entropia and Deface the Currency. One of the reasons I appreciate his work is that he practices what he preaches, and uses his own lifestyle as an experiment in sustainability. Happen Films recently profiled his household, and if you want to know what degrowth the suburbs might look like in practice, here you go:

My own context is very different, but I share the ethos that the film describes – choosing time over money, living at a different pace, and recognising that change begins with ourselves at a household level.

I haven’t written much about myself here on the blog, or how we try to live as a family. I tend to assume that there are lots of other websites and blogs that take that personal angle. But I often find that when I do, I get a response. Those posts make a connection. Friends want to talk about it, where they don’t when I write about transport policy or economics. My wife and I often wonder if there are other ways we can share what we’re doing, even if we’re not doing it very successfully all the time.

I wouldn’t want to turn the blog into eco-tips and vegan recipes. Those you definitely can get elsewhere. But perhaps it would benefit from more real life experience. Or maybe that’s a separate project, and what you crave is policy analysis and reviews of books you don’t intend to read. Who knows? I often consider new content ideas and try something different at the turn of the year, so I’d be interested to hear what you think about that as readers.


  1. I for one would certainly welcome personal experience. I think you could bring a fresh perspective, seeing things in context of the ‘big picture’ of major trends and priorities, showing how particular actions fit into a consistent, coherent approach, and tackling the particular challenges of suburban households. I’d certainly have a lot to learn that way.

  2. I like the reports, stats and book reviews as it give a good overview of the sector and what is happening out there. I also know personal stories are powerful and a great way to get more traction. So maybe a few more personal stories once a week or month? I’m mainly a follower for the information and perspectives than an inspirational one – that comes through anyway 🙂

  3. Hello Jeremy, I think to introduce a monthly or weekly, or even random post about sustainable lifestyle in practice is a great idea. From what I see- not that much, due to my blindness caused by lack of instagram account- normally these type of posts are full of sweetened pictures and hashtags, which kind of miss the point, and don’t reach the type of people that follow your post.

    It would be helpful to learn successful and unsuccessful ways to live more sustainably from a family in practice.

    So, yes, I definitely support you on this idea, which fits your current blog, it is not out of topic at all to make a new blog.

    Best regards and thank you for your job,

    María Guerrero


  4. I do read your blog for the bigger picture policies, economics and indeed reviews of books I won’t read. But I do wonder sometimes how your values and insights shine through in your life. Your post about solar panels made me wonder if I could measure our own power usage, for example. I’d also be very interested to find out a little bit of what you’re doing in your community, because I expect it will be quite a lot.
    Other environmentally engaged blogs seem to focus on vegan recipes, and buying a reusable straw and buying more stuff. I think you’d have something to add to this landscape. So I’d welcome it.

  5. I find all the stuff you publish very informative and useful, and generally concur with what the others above have said. But I suspect my dilemma is not unusual; how to put all the pro-environment living into practice while avoiding becoming viewed as a bit of a freak by family and friends. Yes, I have cut right back on eating meat and try to drive my car less and also offset the carbon. I have minimised consumption but living in a suburban setting, on a modest income, but also feeling compelled to support my family, and fit into conventional society, I feel badly conflicted. The scope for making big changes to lifestyle are constrained by social norms and the infrastructure of where you live. In the meantime I shall continue to lobby my MP, plant trees and sign petitions.

  6. It would be great to hear about your home-scale pursuits, especially their relevance/impact in a wider context. You understand the bigger picture so well!

    Often some of the eco-tips blogs (with the hastags and pretty pictures mentioned above) make it seem like all we need to do is use bamboo straws and have meatless Mondays and we’re done.

    I think you could bring some much needed insight and balance to personal choices and wider collective impact!

    Ps. I’m originally from Leighton Buzzard way, worked in Luton, and now live in Adelaide, Australia. I love your blogs and so do some other friends here – they found your blog before I even had an opportunity to rave about it. Just a reminder to keep a semi-global eye on the blog 🙂 Although I do love reading about home too.

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