International Downshifting week

Filed in Blog by on April 18, 2011 13 Comments
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Little miss Green hanging around during Downshifting week

Little miss Green hanging around in Tracey's campervan for Downshifting week

Tracey Smith’s Downshifting week is in its seventh year and there’s no sign of the seven year itch approaching. Au contrare, Tracey promises this is going to be the NOISIEST celebration yet!

The aim of Downshifting week is to help you find a better work / life balance and enable you to live with less.

People downshift for a myriad of reasons such as wanting less stress in their lives, for personal health reasons or simply because they want to spend more time doing the things they love.

As Tracey puts it “The more money you spend, the more time you have to be out there earning it and the less time you get to spend with the ones you love “. Downshifting doesn’t mean you have to up sticks and move to a tent in the woods (although you could if you wanted to) but it might mean you look at ways of cutting your living expenses so you could work a few hours less a week or even branch out to working for yourself.

Downshifting weaves threads of simpler living, supporting your local community and of course the 3Rs play a significant part. If you can use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without then you’re well on your way to downshifting and the environment will be breathing a sigh of relief too!

I’d love to hear your plans for Downshifting week. Why not use this time as a launch pad for planting some seeds in the garden, mooching around charity shops, starting a compost heap or repairing something you’ve never made time to do?

I’ve got the perfect way to spend our Downshfiting week; more on that soon…Join in the fun between Saturday 23rd to Friday 29th April 2011 and who knows, maybe you’ll love some of your new habits so much you don’t want to give them up. Let me know what you are planning to do!

Now Tracey has a very special project lined up for this year and she needs YOU to help make it a success. Her Community Blanket Project involves you getting together with a group of friends and holding a knit in!

You can source wool from a local charity shop or unravel some woolly jumpers and set to work knitting 10″ squares – what a perfect ‘rubbish to resource’ campaign! When you’ve got 18 delicious squares it’s time to sew them into a blanket. The idea is you hang onto your hand knitted blankets and during the chilly months hand them out to vulnerable people in your area.

What a great idea – A community blanket sourced and made in the community for people in the community.

Tracey would like to get 2011 blankets made to celebrate Downshifting week, so why not sign up?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. Tracey Smith says:

    Hi lovely lady!

    Thank you very much for supporting my simple, green Community Blanket Project! Very much appreciated and if anyone wants to get on board, just hop onto the site and reach for them needles!

    With love and respect always for the amazing job you do,
    TS x x x

  2. Tracey says:

    As it’s taken me 6-months to do half of one square of knitting, I’ll not be attempting a full blanket for THIS winter… I think it’s a very valuable skill and have always wanted to learn, I’m just REALLY not good at it yet!

    If I continue at this rate, I might have a blanket by 2029…? 😉

    But, after nearly tearing my hair out when trying to fit saving the world (at home) around my 40-hour a week job (hours increased from 37.5 over winter due to the “economic situation of the country” over winter), I started to investigate “downshifting” in January this year… I’d never heard of it before, but spotted it via the Low Impact Living Initiative – LILI ( while trying to find out more about making biodeisel for our landrover in the near future.

    Since then, I asked for a bit of help from the LILI forums ( and did some research (including from Tracey’s site, which is linked in their “downshifting links” 🙂 as you can see from my update on the forum, I’ve managed to start a lot! I even spent some of this weekend sat out in the (unexpected) sunshine, mushing up old newspaper into my first ever paper-briquettes for the fire during winter – apparently they take a long time to dry, so I thought I’d start now while it’s sunny!

    I officially start a 4-day working week on 9 May (though due to the bank holidays, etc. it’s like starting it during International Downshifting Weed) in an attempt to be able to do more stuff at home on Fridays so I can spend more of the weekend with my partner! As an added bonus, it also means I’ll get to see more of my 4 lovely kitties!

    I’m still working on the plan to knock down my garage to make 2 raised veggie beds and my water-butt is getting delivered next week! Still trying to convince my partner that I should be allowed chickens, but that’s a work-in-progress! 😉

    I don’t think there’s much better than doing something at home to benefit you and the one(s) you love and then getting “extra” time to spend with them and celebrate the fact you’re lucky enough to have them in your life!

    It’s a hard decision to make that first big “can I live without £X coming in each month”, but I think that, if you look into it, suddenly, the £££’s are less important than you thought and if you’re a bit frugal (which usually results in being a LOT more greener!), then yes, you can!

    Best of luck to anyone else out there looking to Downshift – be it by dropping out of the rat-race entirely, or even just realising that the rat-race doesn’t need to be a competition, just a source of income to keep the roof of the house you love over your head…

  3. Tracey Smith says:

    …what a terrific comment…good luck on your slow migration towards a bit more downshifting..xx

  4. Julie Day says:

    Would love to join in her project but can’t knit. Tried years ago and got more holes than proper stitches. I try and downshift all the time by using what I have got in the way of using up all the notebooks I’ve got instead of buying new. Mum is sowing seeds in the garden right now for veg and flowers.I use up all the toiletries I have until there is no more than recycle containers if I can.

  5. Tracey says:

    @Tracey Smith: Thank you – I was just glad, once I started researching, to find out that I wasn’t the only one out there in a similar situation! Your site was inspirational! 🙂

  6. Tracey Smith says:

    Thank you, very kind words!

    There’s lots on the Downshifting Week website, but if you ever need any help with anything specific, feel free to get in touch!

    Best, TS x

  7. CarSue says:

    Lovely idea, the down-shift! I recently quit my second job because it was driving me crazy to never be at home. I decided to close the income gap by simply selling more of our vegetables this year, and have already prepared for turning my rasberries, peaches, and blackberries into jams for sale at the farmers market. I don’t mind working, but it’s so much nicer to work at my own farm, enjoying my own land and wonderful family, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air with my dogs, than being cramped in a dreary office all weekend.

    Tracey Smith, I’m absolutely loving your philosophy!

  8. Tracey Smith says:

    Hi CarSue! Thank you again for your kind words too and it’s all those small and simple changes that will leave us well prepared for the tricky times ahead…..peak oil is going to affect every aspect of our lives….I like the idea of going in ‘tooled up’!

    With love and all good wishes on your migration too… TS x x

  9. Alyson says:

    Over the last few years, in my congregation, we have been advised to simplify our lives.Not to be materialistic, staying on that never-ending cycle of working to pay for the latest gadget only to find there’s a new one out already.Some people got rid of their tv, their second car, some moved to a smaller house or changed jobs for less hours, to spend more time with their families. I hadn’t thought of it as downshifting, but simplifying my life has certainly led to a less stressful life. Funny that… I had more money 7 years ago than I do now. Income has dropped by a third, I reckon and, yet, I have everything I need and want.

  10. Tracey Smith says:

    Hi Alyson, it’s a lovely realisation when the balance moves in favour of life…. 😉 Delighted the downshifting journey is bringing home the benefits. All the best for the next step! TSx

  11. Layla says:

    Great idea for a week!! 🙂

    I’ll be downshifting & downsizing big time, been trying to figure out how to make this attic into a proper flat and where to put all Granny’s furniture and her treasures!! (The attic has been overcrowded and over-cluttered to start with anyway, sigh!!)

  12. Tracey Smith says:

    Hi Layla – thanks for your comments and it’s always interesting to analyse our emotional reactions to getting rid of, or paring down our ‘stuff’, furniture, posessions or otherwise.

    We often attach elements of the person that gave them to us, to the items, which makes it very tricky to part with them…..what you need is a good friend that’s divorced from said emotion to help you see the light!

    Memories and people reside in our heads and hearts……lolol…..not the sideboard! Clear that stuff out missus and love up all the space!!!

    Best x x

  13. Tracey says:

    @ Layla: I have one memory shelf, where I’ve kept one very small keepsake (my grandma’s music box, my grandda’s pipe and pipestand, a small brass cowbell from my partner’s great aunt, etc.) from people who were/are important to me. That way, I can still have something tangible to hold/see/smell/hear, but I don’t have tonnes of stuff that I don’t know what to do with or that is taking up too much space.

    Everything else that has been important to them, has either been used, or given to someone who can use, because I can always imagine my grandma (who was very practical) just standing their with her cup of tea, shaking her head, going “what on earth are you keeping THAT for – give it to someone who can use it!” 😛

    To be honest, I think she’d still laugh at me for having my shelf, but it’s a very high shelf, that I wouldn’t particularly use for anything anyway, so it’s a nice use for an impractical space. 🙂

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