"In austerity, true pleasure becomes clear. In profligate times, austerity is where beauty waits. Austerity is at one with the grace necessity sculpts. Austerity entails both self-restraint and the capacity for abandonment — in a task, in friendship and contemplation, or in the phenomenal. There is no poverty or meagerness, but volition, in austerity. One can savor every least thing — the faint tang of a skunk lingering under the bird feeder, the warm scratch of wool blankets, the jade tree in the dry cleaner's window, the flavor of bread, the accents and rhythms on the bus. Wonder is a congenial discipline.

"Although my aim in this book is to advocate material simplicity more by attraction than by exhortation, through sharing the mingled pleasures of this kind of living, I'd be remiss in not saying that in and of itself, simple living won't solve the dreadful problems besetting the biosphere. There's something dangerously oxymoronic when simple living becomes a theme of slick magazines. Simplicity needs to affect more than the household's discretionary budget. Billionaires living simply but failing to 'divest and share' — another Oren Lyon dictum — won't suffice.

The disparity of incomes around the world continues to widen. Voluntary simplicity mocks the poor while holding the libertarian potential to divert attention from structural injustices. The simplicity craze will be worse than useless--merely a sectarian morality or personal aesthetic--if it leaves the corporate rascals and wealthy elite free to pursue a global climax of greed."