“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life that the poor.” – Thoreau on Minimalism
“Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer’s character, until we hesitate to lay them aside, without such delay and medical appliances and some such slemnity even as our bodies.” – Thoreau on Raw Denim
“No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes”- Thoreau on Grungy Fashion
“Perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty, and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility.”- Thoreau on Consumerism
“The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller’s cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same.”- Thoreau on trend-setters
“The best works of art are the expression of man’s struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten.”- Thoreau on angsty, whiny, emotional teenage entertainment.
“What has been said of the merchants, that a very large majority, even ninety-seven in a hundred, are sure to fail, is equally true of the farmers.” – Thoreau on the failure rate of small businesses… and that of conventional careers!
“Most men have appeared never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.”- more Thoreau on consumerism.
“Those things for which the most money is demanded are never the things which the student most wants.” – Thoreau on minimizing spending.
“If I wished a boy to know something about the arts and sciences, for instance, I would not pursue the common course, which is merely to send him into the neighborhood of some professor, where any thing is professed and practised but the art of life…. …Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month,- the boy who had made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this,- or the boy who had attended the lectures on metallurgy at the Institute in the mean while, and had received a Rogers’ penknife from his father?” – Thoreau on experience over education
“As with our colleges, so with a hundred ‘modern improvements’; there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance.”- Thoreau on the choice of going or not going to college
“If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man…it must be shown that it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly…” – Thoreau on improving something existing by making it yours and better.