Smile Politely

Simplifying Life: One Phone at a Time

Our home phone was connected today. This is after two and a half years of being a cell-phone-only household. This in and of itself is likely unremarkable, but in conjunction with signing up for the landline phone, we canceled our cellular service.

This is a move that has been seen as radical — almost to the point of sacrilege — by many people we know. The very thought of being without a cellular phone has become a nightmare scenario for many. Why on Earth would we choose a cell-free life?

We decided that cellular phones are not necessary for our lifestyle.

This realization came when I sat down and evaluated our lives for ways to live more simply. Finding ways to simplify was not as easy as I thought it would be. We live in a two-bedroom condo. I commute to work by bicycle. We use homemade cleaners, and we are a vegetarian family. So I focused my attention on the two pink elephants in the room: our cable TV, and our cell phones.

Our Internet connection is through our cable company, therefore our cable TV doesn’t cost much more than just the Internet connection alone. Considering that my wife is a student, and I manage three different Web sites, not having high-speed is probably not a good option for us. The cable TV, while we don’t get much use out of it, gets enough use to justify the cost.

The cell phones were a different story. Before our son was born, we had no problem staying under our minutes on the lowest rate plan offered by our company. We were very satisfied with the service and saw no reason to change. However, after he came along our phone usage changed.
To start with, our usage increased as calls for advice to sisters and parents went up, but also as a natural correlation with the fact that one of us was always home. That leads to the second usage change: nearly all of calls were made from home.

To be fair, we are not completely without cellular service. We did pick up a pre-paid phone to take with us when we’re out of town or when we have left our baby with a sitter. This phone is for very limited-use, however.

I realize that cell phones are so fully integrated into most peoples’ lives that giving them up is not likely to occur, especially in this day and age of iPhones and their kin. Some people legitimately need this level of connectivity for their jobs — others simply prefer to be reachable.

As our modern lives become more hectic, the impact on our health (through stress) and on our environment becomes worse. Simplifying our lives can include easy steps towards more sustainable lifestyles.
How can you simplify your life? Maybe start with locally grown food from Urbana’s Market at the Square. Visit the Champaign or Urbana Public Library the next time you’re in the mood for a new book or magazine instead of buying one. The next time you feel the urge to walk around the mall, visit a park here, here or here instead.

In general, consume less and live more. Your health, your wallet, and your planet will thank you.

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