Convenience Is Killing Us

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | June 28th, 2010 | 4 Comments
topic: Family Health, Green Living, Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating, Healthy Home

tv dinner tray with medical supplies on it

I’m curious when we traded common sense for convenience. I’m guessing it was around the time we stopped trusting ourselves. The same time we started believing all those claims that we could “have it all.” We can. But we pay a price for it.

My parents knew this. My grandparents knew this. Yours probably did, too. But our generation lost track of that little truth. Somewhere in between believing we could “just add water and stir” and that we’d “come a long way, baby.”

Convenience is a relatively modern notion, owing much of its existence to post-World War II thinking, which put women in the workforce, surplus military food into cans and cars in every driveway. Oh yeah — and television. Which, of course, put corporations into our living rooms where they could seduce us with “convenience.”

The hidden costs of convenience

Yet what convenience has done is create a society in which we’re only marginally invested in our own lives. It has made us less responsible for the consequences of our choices — and, as a result, we feel more out of control than ever.

The advent of heat-and-serve meals has rendered our diets more the product of science than soil. The invention of computers and cell phones has become, for those who don’t impose boundaries, a shackle around our ankle, keeping us tied to work and commitments and giving us no time to simply escape.

The fact that we can get to work in 20 minutes if we drive versus 40 minutes if we ride our bikes means, not surprisingly, that most of us take the car. Kids no longer walk to school. Too inconvenient. Yet recently a friend, a pediatric ER doctor, confided in me that she was disheartened by how many overweight kids with hypertension she was seeing. They just don’t move, she lamented.

Convenience is killing us.

I’m not advocating a return to churning my own butter and sewing my own clothes. There are some conveniences that I support wholeheartedly. It’s just that we’ve gone too far.

When I can’t recognize the ingredients in my food without a biochemistry degree. When I find myself driving to the gym in order to get exercise. When I’m “cleaning” my house with products that contain more pollutants than a tailings pond. When convenience is creating a life that will be filled with inconveniences – poor health, pollution, stress, debt — it’s time to kick convenience to the curb.


  1. I think it is the belief that convenience is the only way that is killing us. When we don’t give ourselves options and allow societal norms to dictate us, that ruins our free will. That is one thing that makes us different from other beings…free will. Options require you to go against the grain and perform outside of the box. Yes, you may have to work harder than the next person but at least you will be healthier. We all must take an inventory and determine how much convenience is enough. This is what I’ve done recently with my life.

    Elmira Loftin | June 28th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. I was thinking of this brother says we can’t live without oil. I know I consume plastics, but as I was cleaning my fruit and veggies from farmers market, I was remembering waxed paper, putting trash directly into the trash bins, no paper towels. I am now using cloth bags, and a stack of washcloths in the kitchen. I still have wax paper….would love to have those little waxed paper bags my mom put sandwiches in. Anyway, I am willing to live without convenience, slow down, and make a better way.

    GINGER CHILD | July 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. I think it’s often a matter of perspective, too. Convenience, for me, is simply going to my compost pile in the backyard to top up my garden — rather than driving to a garden center and buying a bag. Convenience for me is biking my kids to school — which allows me to stroke “exercise” off my to-do list rather than driving to the gym after dropping them off. You get the idea…

    I did want to point out that, like Ginger Child, I generally assumed waxed paper to be an eco-friendly choice. After all, it’s paper…right? Well…actually no. The wax is paraffin, which is a petroleum product…just like plastic. So waxed paper can’t be recycled.
    Though tweens and teens loathe being “different”, I nonetheless send my own off to school with reusable containers — either plastics that are PVC and bisphenol A free, pyrex-grade glass or stainless steel.
    Thanks for your comments!

    Leslie Garrett | July 7th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Great article & I wholeheartedly support the sentiment! Convenience is one of the pillars of The Movement. My mission is to encourage & inspire people to get active, greatly reduce the amount of processed (convenience) food, & pass these habits down to future generations. I’ve spent the last decade learning the hard way that convenience most definitely is killing us. I’m a formerly obese person now living as an active, healthy individual who’s learned how to navigate our convenience-craving society. My story is a long one, but may interest folks. If you are interested, check out my blog – – for information about & inspiration to participate in The Movement. Be inspired…Own You!!!

    PackWill | October 28th, 2011 | Comment Permalink

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