Book Review: 99 Ways to a Simple Lifestyle

Published in the 70's, it's a handy book with information on everything from how to ride a bike to how to stop smoking, and much, much more.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1976
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How to repair a leaky faucet is just one of the 99 topics covered in Simple Lifestyle.

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A fine book on living with less. 

Remember when you were a kid and you went fishing and put that first cast way out there and looked down at your reel only to find a mass of tangled, back-lashed line . . . and remember how blasted long it took you to unknot all-the knots and de-loop all the loops and otherwise put your Wondercast into working order once again?

Well, pardon the less-than-perfect analogy, but many of MOTHER's readers have been trying to do the same kind of thing for a considerable number of years now. The name of the game is "Simplify Your Lifestyle", and—though the idea itself sounds easy enough—most folks have discovered that untying the multitude of knots that bind us all to snarled-up society is a trying task indeed.

Which, of course, is why publications such as MOTHER, and organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have popped up in recent years: to help provide the how-to information needed by people who are trying to lessen the impact of their lives on the world at large (and vice versa).

And, we're happy to say, CSPI has just made a rather nice contribution to that effort by putting together an extraordinarily useful 324-page paperback book entitled 99 Ways to a Simple Lifestyle. It's a brand-new release . . . but we suspect (and certainly hope) that the volume will be around for a very long time to come.

Between the covers of this modestly mimeographed book are ninety-nine detailed essays that explore ways to conserve our natural resources—food, fossil fuel, water, wildlife, people, health, land, and everything else that's customarily devastated by modern man-by leading a more conscientious, less wasteful, do-it-yourself life. And if you're thinking such a book would have to cover a rather monumental mass of information on Heaven-knows-how-many subjects, you're absolutely right. That"s precisely what 99 Ways to a Simple Lifestyle does.

For instance, you can sit down with this volume and learn—within a single reading—how to: keep a furnace operating properly, avoid aerosol sprays, build a yurt, consume less meat, plant fruit trees, make and repair furniture, care for a garden, ride a bicycle, live communally, buy a flushless toilet, cut hot water costs, eat wild foods, select and make and mend clothing, camp and backpack, stop smoking cigarettes, purchase a car, refurbish an old home, make compost, dehumidify rooms in the summer, save water, bake bread, avoid unnecessary auto travel, use natural pesticides, repair a leaking faucet, watch your weight, choose gasoline, exercise without equipment, join a craft co-op, fight utility companies, take care of your feet, and do 68 other equally liberating things.

In other words, what we have here is the proverbial primer to low-impact lifestyles. Obviously, the book cannot cover each topic in all-inclusive depth . . . but the basic facts are thoroughly explained and—in many cases— illustrated to make it easy for the reader to build a sound base for pursuing a different kind of "good life": the kind that's good for everybody.

So hop to it, all you dreamers and doers. Order up a copy of 99 Ways to a Simple Lifestyle. Though not currently in print, you can find many used copies online from booksellers such as

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