Never has the phrase “time is money” been more true than it is today. It’s a known fact that the world of work can be overwhelming and competitive, but when hustle culture encourages us to work all the hours given to us, is it any wonder that Gen Z – the youngest members of the workforce – are already claiming to be burnt out?
Users on TikTok say they have found the antidote. It’s called “slow living,” and it’s wildly popular with over 500 million views under the hashtag #slowliving. It promotes “living intentionally,” creating better work-life balances, and the idea that we should make more time in our lives for reflection.
On TikTok, this can include spending time on creative pursuits, going for long walks in nature or journaling. There are even several users, such as @wai.iti.ridge, who live completely self-sufficiently by growing their own food and generating their own energy.
According to Slow Living LDN, a group that helps people get into a more laid-back lifestyle, slow living also encourages downtime from technology. This makes its popularity on TikTok rather ironic because many of the platform’s users find a video longer than one minute “stressful.”
The videos on TikTok are also carefully created to look a certain way, saturated with greenery and natural earthy tones, with one user saying she uses the image-based social network, Pinterest, to curate the image she’s aspiring to.
The movement is homogenous too, with the majority of content creators being young, white, and middle-class women.
Is slow living sustainable living?
Perhaps TikTok has removed some of the integrity from the movement, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a useful counteragent to the real issues of burnout and stress facing the modern workforce.
The movement has its roots in the 80s, when Carlo Petrini, aiming to protect regional food traditions in response to a McDonald’s opening in the centre of Rome, founded the movement he named “Slow Food,” a play on “fast-food” which is typically served in restaurants like McDonald’s.
Slow living is an extension of the Slow Food movement. As Slow Living LDN says, it’s about promoting a “meaningful and conscious” lifestyle, cutting back on consumption, and not spending as much time on things that don’t make us happy.
There is also the emphasis to spend less time on social media to stop “consuming media mindlessly.”
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What’s more, there are several clear environmental benefits to slower living: single-use packaging and social media are both forms of rapid consumption that need to be reduced in our lives. Within the slow living philosophy, the idea of a “throwaway culture” applies not only to the physical waste created, but also to the useless information we’ll forget, both of which come from vacuous consumption and therefore work in tandem.
Slow living means we can all have a part in achieving the sustainability goals that may seem lofty to the average working person and, in contrast to what TikTok suggests, there are no restrictions on who can be involved – you don’t have to live on a homestead and raise your own animals, or even live in the countryside at all.
There are plenty of ways to be sustainable at home that also fall under the ethos of slow living.
Cooking from scratch with local and seasonal produce is great, because not only does it promote sustainability, it also promotes personal well-being due to being nutritious and allowing you to know exactly what ingredients are on your plate, with no extra chemicals added for shelf preservation. Cooking also provides time away from any technology or information overload.
Making your own clothes is another example of sustainable and slow living, as is buying second-hand at any opportunity.
It’s not quite a cure-all yet, but slow living appears to be a reasonable solution to the uniquely modern issue of ensuring sustainability in a fiercely capitalist environment. It will help us to feel more fulfilled as we allow more time for what makes us happy, all the while knowing that it’s also safeguarding our environment.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Watching a sunset. Featured Photo Credit: Bianca Gasparoto