Minimalism is one of those terms that is being thrown around more often now, but to be honest I didn’t really know what it entailed until recently. I always thought of the sterile white walls, no artwork, only one bowl/spoon/plate, no books – basically the mental picture of some sort of asylum. But minimalism is not a strict construct of ideals, but is rather a mindset that allows you to free yourself of excess STUFF. I feel like minimalism would be something that many people would be interested in, as I hear people complain all the time about how they are drowning in their physical possessions.
Minimalism has become popular like many different ‘trends’ in the last 10 or so years (like veganism, eco-friendly options etc.) in reaction to our consumerist society. Food and household goods are available everywhere now, and at a much cheaper price and quality than 100 years ago. Now you can get a pair or shoes for $10, but they will likely fall apart within a month or so – causing you to purchase shoes every few months, throwing the old ones in the landfill, and spending more money each time. Same with food – grocery stores will have sales on canned goods or fruit/veg that trick us into thinking that we can’t afford NOT to get it because it’s such a fantastic deal! But then it rots or expires before we remember to use it, or it gets lost in the back of the cupboard for years. And because we keep purchasing at such a rapid rate, the demand needs to be filled and so the cycle continues.
Holidays are bad too. For Easter everyone has to get those little plastic eggs, plastic grass, baskets, chocolate, stuffed rabbits and chicks, decorations, gifts… etc… etc… etc… All to be thrown out, donated, and repurchased the next year in order to properly “celebrate”. Same with Christmas – think of the things you purchase during the holiday season: gifts for everyone, cards to be mailed out, decorations, trees, food, and different outfits.
More thought needs to be put into the things that we purchase: is it necessary, is it going to last, is it good quality, is it something that I won’t get bored of in a few months?
Minimalism is defined by Leo Babauta as “a way to escape the excesses of the world around us – the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.” (http://mnmlist.com/minimalist-faqs/).
Doesn’t that sound lovely?
A way to start is to look at what you own, realize what you have that you don’t need/want/use/look at and free yourself of these items – please donate them if possible. Next, think hard about something before you purchase it. Don’t go shopping to kill time (or if you do, don’t bring your wallet with you). If you find something you need/want, come back for it later (if you still remember that you saw it). Go shopping with a list, a purpose, and only leave with what is on that list. It’s all about making more conscious choices, and recognizing your impact as an individual on this beautiful planet on which we reside.