Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Our Lost Leisure: A Mortgage-Free Solution to Regaining Our Lives

The following is an excerpt from The Mortgage-Free Home: Innovative Strategies for Debt-free Home Ownership by Rob Roy. It has been adapted for the web. In 1991, Harvard economist Juliet Schor wrote a fascinating treatise on our entrapment in a voluntary (or involuntary) work ethic that turned us into a nation of workaholics, The Overworked American: the Unexpected Decline in Leisure (Basic Books, 1991). Some of her observations are startling:
  • Since 1948, the level of productivity of the U.S. worker has more than doubled. In other words, we could now produce our 1948 standard of living in less than half the time. Every time productivity increases, we are presented with the possibility of either more free time or more money. We could have chosen the four-hour day. Or a working year of six months. Or every worker in the United States could now be taking every other year off from work—with pay. (p. 2)
  • Half of this country’s population now say they have little time for their families. (p. 11)
  • Nearly two-thirds of adult women are now employed. (p. 20)
At regular paying jobs. And weigh the previous fact against this:
  • For women, gaining a husband adds about five hours of domestic work per week. (p. 38)
  • Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. (p. 44)
  • A Harris poll finds that since 1973 free time has fallen nearly 40 percent—from a median figure of 26 hours a week to slightly under 17. (p. 22)
All this is very interesting, but what does it have to do with a mortgage-free home? Simply this: Released from the need of having to come up with the monthly mortgage payment, less money needs to be earned. Less taxes need to be paid. This can translate into more leisure time. Or not. It’s up to you. If you’re interested in slowing life to a manageable pace, check out Mortgage-Free! by Rob Roy. Related Posts:


How to Achieve Resiliency Through Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

In today’s world the marketplace distorts our values and our dependence on petroleum keeps us from creating truly sustainable agriculture. So, how can we achieve true wealth and at the same time make society around us more resilient? The answer, Will Bonsall believes, is greater self-reliance in both how we grow our own food, and […] Read More..

How to Grow Strawberries Indoors

It’s strawberry shortcake season, which means strawberry harvesting season. But for those of you with no outdoor space for gardens, fear not—you can plant, weed, and harvest all from the comfort of your own home! That’s right: it is possible to grow strawberries indoors, from small spaces. According to R. J. Ruppenthal, author of Fresh […] Read More..

Wild Edibles: 5 Tips for Beginner Foragers

Ever spotted a dandelion growing in your backyard and wondered, can I eat that? According to wild plants expert Katrina Blair, the answer is a resounding yes. And there are plenty of other commonly found weeds that fall into this category as well. In her book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, Blair introduces readers to […] Read More..

10 Books to Celebrate the International Year of Soils

Beneath our feet lies a resource that is critical to our future. It’s the first thing we think about when it comes to farming and gardening – and yet, one of the last things considered when thinking about the long-term preservation of our earth. It’s the basis for healthy food production, is a crucial tool […] Read More..

Permaculture Expert Toby Hemenway on Natural Patterns

You asked, our authors answered. All month long, we’ve been celebrating permaculture by having a panel of authors answer questions submitted by our readers. As Permaculture Month comes to a close, we wanted to share some final thoughts from one of the top experts in the permaculture field, Toby Hemenway. He is the author of […] Read More..