Vermont’s tradition of frugality has been traced by some observers “to the short growing season, when nothing could be wasted,” writes Kirk Kardashian in the Vermont weekly Seven Days. Through his interviews with Vermont “back-to-the-landers,” Kardashian discovers that members of this otherwise unaffiliated group share an almost Depression-era sense of economy. The simplicity and intentionality of their lifestyles is perhaps more impressive than ever in an era of unparalleled American opulence and consumption.
Vermonter Robert “Dunnz” Dunn tells Kardashian, “I could have bought a BMW, did cocaine, and worked on 128,” referring to a highway outside Boston that’s lined with big engineering firms. “But it seemed like I needed to be one person saying, ‘I don’t want to contribute to the way the country’s going.’”
“If there are any hard and fast rules of New England frugality,” Kardashian concludes from his conversations with this thrift-oriented strain of conservationists, they might be distilled down to these five tenets:
For all but the handiest of us, mending our wares may mean making the acquaintance of our local cobbler. “In the comings and goings of daily life, we walk through soles, we pull off zippers, we come unstitched,” Kardashian writes. “This is where the cobbler comes in—if you can find one.”