Living Small in the Hudson Valley



Biking on the Walkway over the Hudson

As a minimalist, I believe the true value of our possessions is in the service they provide. After all, the majority of the things we own are tools—a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

That being said, we in the Hudson Valley are uniquely positioned to avoid the clutter that can bog us down in our homes and lives. We have so much available to us without having to take on the expense and maintenance of keeping extra stuff. Let’s consider some common possessions that have eco-friendly, social-friendly and just overall life-friendly alternatives right here in the Hudson Valley.  

Swimming Pools

I often see them when I’m out bicycling in the Poughkeepsie suburbs, yet I rarely see anyone actually using them. When I consider all that goes into maintaining a pool, I can't help but think it's not worth the time, energy and money.

The good news is you don’t have to own a pool to enjoy one. There are plenty of community pools in the Hudson Valley, many of which are free. Taking advantage of facilities like Tallman Beach and Pool Club, Hudson Valley Community Center and Spratt Park is a more efficient alternative.  

Property/Yard

Also during my frequent bike rides, I see large, well-manicured lawns that are not being used—nobody barbequing, nobody playing sports, nobody even lounging on a hammock. I see lawns being mowed, but not used. Large properties come with a higher mortgage, a higher land tax and the need for maintenance. Yet people still want a yard for the few times a year that they might host a barbeque or a kickball game.  

The alternative to this scenario is to take advantage of the scenic parks that can be found all over the Hudson Valley. You can reserve space at many of them for parties, barbeques and such. Even if you have to pay, it’s probably still more cost and time efficient than owning property of your own. Bowdoin Park, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Fahnestock State Park, James Baird State Park and Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site are just a few of the many beautiful public parks in our area.

Exercising

How many of us have a weight bench collecting dust in the garage, or a treadmill being used as a coat rack in the living room? There are cheaper and more efficient ways to work up a sweat or build strength. Many of the public parks have running/hiking trails, or you can go for a walk or run on the HV Rail Trail or the Walkway over the Hudson. Too cold outside, or not much of an outdoors person? There are gyms throughout the Hudson Valley, and many offer low monthly rates.  

Computer/Internet Access 

Students, sole proprietors or video game enthusiasts may use their computers daily, but many people use theirs just once or twice a week. While our consumerist mentality has convinced most of us that we need to own a computer and pay for internet, nothing could be further from the truth. One of the biggest untapped resources is our public library system. Nearly all the public libraries in the Hudson Valley have free-to-use computers with full internet access. What's more, library membership is free.  

Just think of the benefits: no computer maintenance, no internet fee, less clutter and a more purposeful use of our computer time. Also, since we can handle most digital tasks on our smartphones or tablets, the necessity for actual "sit-down" computers is diminishing. Many businesses and public spaces now offer free Wi-Fi, and as this trend grows, the necessity for home internet service will diminish further.  

Reading

The practice of lining the walls with bookshelves is getting hard to defend in the digital age. There are many clutter-free alternatives, from borrowing library books to using an e-reader, which can store more literature than most people can fit in their homes. Many e-books are available for free, and you can also get digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

Several e-readers have a special display that minimizes eyestrain, and most can sync directly with a smartphone or other mobile device.  

Transportation

Another thing our consumerist mentality tells us is that we must own a vehicle, no matter our transportation needs. Again, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly for people who are retired or work from home.     

If you regularly commute more than 15 minutes to work, possessing a vehicle is likely the most viable option for you. I use the word “possessing” rather than “owning” here because leasing a vehicle is often more cost-efficient than owning one. Ownership is highly overrated, especially when it comes to vehicles, which decline in value the moment they’re driven off the dealer’s lot.  

If your commute is less than 15 minutes, or if you rarely commute to work at all, there are excellent alternatives for transportation when you do need to travel:

  • For short distances, and if you don’t have much cargo, a bicycle or motor scooter will work just fine. Both are fuel efficient, and cycling is better for your health.
  • Every county has its own public bus service with multiple routes. All major shopping centers and highly populated residential areas have bus stops. Details can be found online.
  • Uber is a great option for those one-offs and is usually more affordable than a taxi (another one-off option). Just download the Uber app to your mobile device and call a ride from there.

We live in a resource-rich community. Before you make any purchase, consider the service you’re really looking for and then see if there’s a more efficient way to get it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Anthony Foppiano is the author of Living Better Small: A Better Life through Minimalism. To read more from him or to sign up for his mailing list, visit LivingBetterSmall.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

Eco-Justice Group The Greenheart to Perform in Ossining

Eco-Justice Group The Greenheart to Perform in Ossining

8 to 10 p.m. on November 24, at Good Choice Kitchen, in Ossining
Thanksgiving Day Plant-Based Potluck in White Plains

Thanksgiving Day Plant-Based Potluck in White Plains

1 to 4 p.m., November 22, at Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Mindfulness and Empowerment Retreat in Ossining

Mindfulness and Empowerment Retreat in Ossining

5 p.m. on November 30 to 1 p.m. on December 2
Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown November 18

Awaken Wellness Fair Returns to Tarrytown November 18

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors to this entertaining and educational event can browse products and services designed to support a healthy lifestyle, listen to expert speakers on a variety of issues, and consult with intuitive readers and holistic healers.
Beacon of Light Offers Fall Healing Events

Beacon of Light Offers Fall Healing Events

Events include women's healing circles, shamanic circles, breath work and sound meditations, live chanting and workshops on dance, drawing and Thai massage.
More Couples Want Inspirational, Nontraditional Wedding Ceremonies

More Couples Want Inspirational, Nontraditional Wedding Ceremonies

Michael Rosenbaum, an ordained minister and spiritual counselor, says he’s seeing a growing trend among engaged couples.
Open House at Yellow Monkey Village

Open House at Yellow Monkey Village

2 to 6 p.m. on November 3
Mindfulness Workshops and Retreats at Garrison Institute

Mindfulness Workshops and Retreats at Garrison Institute

Cultivate mindfulness, awareness and compassion.
Hudson River Museum Is Thanksgiving Weekend Destination

Hudson River Museum Is Thanksgiving Weekend Destination

November 24
Boscobel Hosts Holiday Twilight Tours

Boscobel Hosts Holiday Twilight Tours

Holiday tours will take place from 3:30 to 7 p.m., November 23-25, December 1-2 and December 8-9.
Bodyworkers’ Approach to Pain Transcends ‘Mechanics’

Bodyworkers’ Approach to Pain Transcends ‘Mechanics’

"The majority of chronic pain is actually caused by injuries to ligaments, joints, tendons and fibrous connective tissue.”
Hudson Valley Vegfest Returns for Second Year

Hudson Valley Vegfest Returns for Second Year

‘The BloodDetective’ Opens Katonah Office

‘The BloodDetective’ Opens Katonah Office

Grand opening event at the new office will be on October 26, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Holistic Skin Care Studio opens in Fishkill

Holistic Skin Care Studio opens in Fishkill

Offers an alternative to commercial spa services
Local Group Hosts Alexander Technique Week Events

Local Group Hosts Alexander Technique Week Events

The method teaches awareness of one’s postural habits and how one responds to stimuli, she says, and it enhances mobility, poise and performance while reducing stress and tension.
Tai Chi Studio Now Open in Brewster

Tai Chi Studio Now Open in Brewster

By combining slow, controlled breathing and gentle stretching movements, tai chi creates harmony between the body, mind and spirit.
Bedford Hills Wine and Beer Bar Hosts CBD Talk

Bedford Hills Wine and Beer Bar Hosts CBD Talk

October 9 at 6 p.m.
Lisanne Elkins Introduces ‘Scalp and Sole’ Treatment

Lisanne Elkins Introduces ‘Scalp and Sole’ Treatment

Focuses solely on the feet and head and borrows techniques from Asian disciplines.
Xeno-Estrogens Promote Breast Cancer

Xeno-Estrogens Promote Breast Cancer

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one out of eight American women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.
Stressed? Try Jin Shin Do Acupressure

Stressed? Try Jin Shin Do Acupressure

Jin Shin Do (JSD) is a form of clothes-on bodywork based on the energy system discovered and developed thousands of years ago by Taoist monks in China.
To Break Addiction, Fill the Void

To Break Addiction, Fill the Void

“Addiction has its roots in feeling the need to find balance, to seek peace, comfort or excitement that somehow isn't present in a life."
Putnam Valley Hosts Annual Psychic Fair

Putnam Valley Hosts Annual Psychic Fair

October 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Heart Songs: An Evening Of Chanting and Sacred Music

Heart Songs: An Evening Of Chanting and Sacred Music

October 13, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Susan Adler Adds Reflexology to Massage Practice

Susan Adler Adds Reflexology to Massage Practice

“Reflexology is based on the premise that the foot is a map of the whole body, where specific areas on the foot correspond to different organs, glands and body systems.”
Heeding the Warning Light

Heeding the Warning Light

Taking a pain reliever doesn’t fix the problem; it just covers it up.
‘Medical Medium’ Publishes Liver Rescue

‘Medical Medium’ Publishes Liver Rescue

It provides answers to a number of health conditions, from eczema and acne to diabetes and autoimmune disease.
Heritage Applefest in Garrison

Heritage Applefest in Garrison

October 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Festival Benefits Families in Medical Crisis

This family-friendly event will include a 10:30 a.m. fun walk (9:30 a.m. registration), hayrides, a pumpkin patch, touch-a-truck and local vendors.