If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then our uncontrollable consumerist society is to thank for the well intentioned, though sometimes misguided, fad of minimalism.
We know how we got here. Numerous and valuable possessions have forever been symbols of wealth and status, and since the invention of advertising, corporate marketers have perfected the skill of creating a need where there was none, and then selling us the solution. The more we buy, the more we want and so our homes and lives fill up with pretty, shiny, expensive place-holders for real life experience, cluttering our spaces and minds with their pointlessly promising presence.
We all know about and are affected by this problem to various degrees, and as such often find ourselves making intermittent, lofty attempts to swim against the commercial stream with the help of talk-show-self-help-magazine-column-home-living-blog-approved type tips and trick.
In theory, we’re all for the ‘less is more’ mantra, but when we open to the ’10 tips for minimalist living’ page, what we find is a bunch of expensive all-in-one gadgets, and solutions that involve throwing out everything you have, only to replace them with more – ‘minimalistic’ – stuff. The annual ‘de-cluttering’ can often involve chucking stuff out, and then promptly replacing it with a less-cluttered version. We buy more stuff- organizers, filing solutions, storage space and end up contributing to the very processes and social structures we are trying to escape.
It seems like a step in the right direction, but really it’s still a step on the very path we’re trying to avoid. The original message of ‘less is more’ is lost in this space, which really just represents the sale of a different product. If you have ever seen a coffee table book about minimalist living, you know what I’m talking about.
So should we hold on to all of our junk? Absolutely not. Things that serve no purpose, whether practical or sentimental, should be disposed of thoughtfully; either donated or up-cycled. Things that ‘might come in handy one day’ should meet the same fate if they’ve been waiting ten years for that ‘one day’. However, we should return to the question of why before throwing out or buying anything. In the end, the greener, low-waste, practical and economical option also happens to be minimalistic by nature, and that is simply to buy and consume less.
Buy less stuff. Period. From there you will naturally find yourself consuming less, which means you won’t need to throw away or recycle as much. It means saving money, saving resources and saving time.