It’s time to get back to basics and celebrate National Simplicity Day on July 12! The holiday falls on this date every year to honor the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, who was born on this day in 1817. So read on for some modern-day tips on how to celebrate National Simplicity Day. As Thoreau himself said: “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”
When is National Simplicity Day 2024?
“Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities,” on National Simplicity Day on July 12.
History of National Simplicity Day
Henry David Thoreau was a jack-of-all-trades — an author, an environmentalist, an abolitionist, a poet — but you probably mainly remember him from your high school English class as a transcendentalist. He and his contemporary transcendentalists believed, in simple terms (see what we did there?), that people have knowledge about themselves that ‘transcends’ all the external forces in their lives. They advocated for living a simpler life to better get in touch with those feelings. Now, we’re not telling you to abandon your life and go live in the woods for a few years, but we love the idea of taking a day to evaluate your life and find out what elements of it are simply the most important to you.
National Simplicity Day was created to unshackle people from the complications and hustle and bustle of daily life. As much as technology has made our lives easier for us, it has also consumed us and created competition in all spheres of life — comparing lifestyles, increasing the desire for accumulating more things, and the idea that everyone should be living an extravagant life. A simple life hardly gets the spotlight on social media. This is why National Simplicity Day emphasizes the importance of directing our focus internally and doing away with the unnecessary clutter in our lives. It is a chance to re-evaluate our needs and understand that “less is more.”
In recent years, the concept of minimalism has become widely popular. In some countries like Japan, people have started to understand that their lives can be much happier and less stressful if they get rid of items that don’t serve them any fulfilling purpose. Minimalism has spread to domains like fashion as well, where people are opting for timeless articles to create ‘capsule’ wardrobes, rather than hoarding fast fashion.
National Simplicity Day timeline
Henry David Thoreau is born in Concord, Mass.
Thoreau moves into the house near Walden Pond for two years, two months, and two days.
"Walden; or, Life in the Woods" is published.
Thoreau dies in Concord, Mass.
National Simplicity Day is a chance to reflect and take stock of what we are filling our lives with. Those who celebrate this holiday take a step back and compartmentalize what they need and don’t need, and this is not just limited to material possessions — inventory is also taken mentally and emotionally.
Many people purge their belongings, discarding things they no longer need or clothing that no longer fits them. Contributions and donations are also made to Goodwill and other organizations.
National Simplicity Day By The Numbers
300,000 – the number of items in the average American home.
1 in 10 – the number of Americans who rent offsite storage.
25% – the percentage of people with two-car garages who don’t have room to park cars inside them.
32% – the percentage of people with two-car garages who only have room for one vehicle.
7.3 square feet – the self-storage space available for every man, woman, and child in America.
238 – the number of toys an average 10-year-old owns.
12 – the number of toys an average 10-year-old plays with.
30 – the number of outfits the average American woman owns.
$1,700 – the amount of money an average American family spends on clothes annually.
65 pounds – the weight of the clothing that the average American throws away in a year.
$1.2 trillion – the money spent by Americans annually on nonessential goods.
National Simplicity Day FAQs
How do you celebrate National Simplicity Day?
National Simplicity Day is celebrated by taking a step back and taking inventory of everything that you own and then purging items that no longer serve any use. Minimalism is a growing trend around the world and learning the art of simplifying our lives, whether it is tangible or intangible, will improve our lives for the better.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism means owning fewer possessions and rather opting for a few items of quality that will serve us more than many items that will not last long. Minimalism is a lifestyle that is increasingly being adopted around the world to tackle the problem of ever-growing consumerism and wastage of resources.
National Simplicity Day Activities
We know you probably haven’t read it since you were in high school, so why not take Thoreau’s birthday to pick it up again? Thoreau chose to remove himself from society for two years to live as simply as possible in a cabin in the woods near Walden Pond and wrote his reflections of that time down in Walden. We know it’s unrealistic to expect you to give up on TV and takeout for that long, but you can at least live vicariously through him.
Unplug from your devices
We know that it feels like it’s impossible to get through a day without Snapchatting, constantly checking your work email, posting to Instagram, and catching up on the latest HBO show, but try to challenge yourself to take a break from your computer and smartphone for a day. You’d be surprised at how refreshing it can feel to not be constantly plugged into everything that’s going on in everyone else’s life—and we’re willing to bet that when you log into Facebook the next morning, you’ll find you didn’t miss much.
Declutter your home
Whether it’s a tiny apartment or a four-bedroom house, do you ever feel like you have too much stuff crammed into your home? Use Simplicity Day as an excuse to take a long, hard look at all your various objects and figure out what’s really important to you vs. what’s just taking up space. Take everything that falls into the latter category and donate it — you’ll feel more comfortable in your home and you’ll have done a bonus good deed!
5 Surprising Facts About Minimalism
It reduces excessive waste
$1.2 trillion a year is spent on buying non-essential items in the U.S. alone!
Shop til you drop
The average female spends approximately $125,000 on fashion accessories and clothing in a lifetime — adopting a minimalist lifestyle prevents this.
Silence is golden
With a minimalist lifestyle, you begin appreciating solitude and silence — there is no pressure or guilt to live a high-maintenance lifestyle, and doing less feels rewarding.
Do I really need that?
Minimalism makes one realize just how useless most items are in the long run, especially the ‘just-in-case’ items — your obsession to collect and have more starts to wane, and you become more conscious about your purchases.
A healthier lifestyle
Being a minimalist allows you to pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you about what is really important, and make the necessary changes for a healthier lifestyle.
Why We Love National Simplicity Day
It’s an excuse to unwind
Our lives are constantly scheduled out between jobs, school, workouts, childcare, etc. and we often forget how taxing it can be to always be moving from one thing to the next. Simplicity Day gives us a chance to put all of those elements of our lives on pause, even if it’s just mentally, and focus on the importance of the simple things.
It celebrates getting out into nature
For Thoreau, a big part of living simply was getting away from the distractions of everyday life by spending time in nature. That could be in the woods, by a lake, on a beach, you name it. Spending time in nature also happens to be one of those special, simple pleasures with an extra perk: it’s free!
It’s an ancient idea
Although Simplicity Day is celebrated in honor of Thoreau, the principles behind it go back way further than the nineteenth century and span across many different cultures. From the founders of the yoga practice to monks of both eastern and western traditions, many groups of people through the ages have banded around philosophies that emphasized simplifying your life in both mental and material ways.
National Simplicity Day dates