As a person and as a parent, I never thought of myself as one of a kind, but I also never thought that there were a whole lot of people out there like me.
In my early 20s, for example, I took up knitting. I adore old movies and appreciate the style and manners of the past. I am a dedicated thrift store shopper with a fair collection of vintage clothing and I love making new things out of the old. I have had a backyard garden for more than a decade and I make a lot of my family’s body care products such as soap, lotions and diaper rash ointment. I support local shops, attend farmers’ markets, make my own baby food and prefer restaurants that source their produce from nearby farms and that have reclaimed wood restaurant tables for their costumers. And I’m a tech and science geek.
To me this sounded like an interesting, if somewhat unusual, conglomeration of characteristics. So imagine my surprise one day when I was watching an episode of The Simpson’s called “The Day the Earth Stood Cool,” which described a large segment of today’s 30-something parents as having all of these ideals and more? Heck, even my love of jazz was called out and suddenly, I didn’t feel so unique anymore.
I was only disappointed for a minute. After that, I realized what a great thing it is that so many other people feel the same way and what a wonderful starting point this is for the generation we’re raising.
Why “New Bohemian”?
Even the Simpson’s didn’t know what to call this group of people. We’re not hipsters, hippies or steampunk, though we share a couple of characteristics here and there. In fact, one of the great appeals of being a part of this group is that they’re so hard to define: non-conforming conformists, if you will. But for the sake of definition, you could call this group “New Bohemians.”
According to Reference.com, the bohemian style is “…usually defined as a style of person living an artistic or unconventional life.”
From there, you could narrow it down to those who:
- Have an appreciation for the past
- Practice sustainability in the present
- Look forward to the future
An Appreciation for the Past
Every era had its good and bad points, but one great thing that the people of the past had that has been lost in recent years is an appreciation for quality. Fortunately, this generation is starting to bring that back. From purchasing sturdy, classic toys like hand carved trucks and wooden blocks that will last for generations, to buying clothes that are either well-made vintage or new but made to a higher standard, the New Bohemian parent understands that what we own should last. That over time, we spend far more on repeatedly buying cheap products when we could just get one good, quality item.
Sustainability in the Present
This mentality lends itself incredibly well toward the practice of sustainable living. Having household items that last a long time mean we’re not tossing out multiples of the cheap versions, and if there’s something we need, we tend to look for a quality used version rather than buying new and adding to the growing landfill crisis.
Take the recent surge in upcycling, for example. By finding used but quality items and transforming them into something useful — like turning old milk bottles into vintage vases, lamp shades, cookie & milk gift sets and even picture frames — we’re slowly but surely facilitating the always hopeful sea-change toward zero waste.
And this drive toward sustainability and quality-over-quantity in goods also applies toward food. We tend to veer away from products with unpronounceable ingredients and opt for the simple version. We look for produce that was grown nearby not only because it supports local businesses, but because we know it’s going to be good for us and for our families. And if we have even a little bit of a green thumb, we save money by growing the basics such as kitchen herbs and onions in our own backyards.
Look Forward to the Future
It’s this drive for a more sustainable present that shows how much we’re looking toward and trying to influence the future. Even as recently as fifty years ago, a lot of people didn’t think that a fast food carton tossed out the car window would really matter. But now, with all of the information available to us about dwindling resources and the impact of waste on the environment, we’re doing our best to step up our game in the present and make the future one worth living in for our children.
New Bohemian or not, It’s encouraging to know that there are so many others out there who want, and are acting on creating, a better world. That there are people who want to return to the basics in regard to healthy eating, who want to support quality craftsmanship and local businesses and who think twice about how something could be reused before throwing it out. It makes me feel better about the world my son, and all of the young children today, will grow up in.
[About the author: Kristin Hackler is an avid crafter, up-cycler and DIY enthusiast as well as a mother and children’s book author. Kristin writes for eBay.com about creative uses of old goods, home and family life.]