Do you feel that? That payday twitch. Your inbox is flooding with weekly sales, seasonal collections and discounts. You don’t need it, you can’t store it - yet - it remains. The urge to want it all, spend it all and own it all - to always be ‘with it’. What if there were an escape to this nightmare?! One just might be in reach.
We are all guilty of succumbing to the materialist lifestyle of the modern world, you’d be considered a minority if you weren’t - it’s hard to escape it. No one could blame you, it has consumed our lifestyle, spending and...well everything. This idea has become normalised to gross extent, often having negative effects on the people who participate, and unfortunately the planet.
There has been a momentum behind desires to change this pattern, whatever the reason: social, economic or cultural - we desire change. This has led to the uprising of the minimalist movement, the ideology being one of deliberate reduction of cost for the benefit of the consumer. Furthermore, this movement has a profound impact on our way of life, with a focus on the environmental impact of consumerism.
Keeping it minimal
The main principles behind minimalism is a counter-movement to the overwhelming consumerism we face today. It found its beginning in the arts, evolving to a mindset of simplicity for positive change. Living is everything but simplistic, we have to navigate a world shackled by negativity and spending imposed upon us. However, the things we mass purchase hold almost no value or necessity - it’s just stuff. Minimalist Vegan describes it perfectly “Minimalism is an antidote to that state of overload."
So, what does a minimalist lifestyle mean? First, imagine that you have to choose ten possessions, and the rest has got to go. Could you manage that easily? That's a rather radical example, and is a frequent misconception of the lifestyle. Unlike minimalism found in Buddhism, with the removal of all material possession, or extreme minimalists with tiny houses, the minimalist lifestyle today describes ownership with intention, purpose, and optimal living. Daily life is changed as excess ownership and purchasing is removed from the daily quota, and possessions are assessed for their personal value specific to their story.
Adopting the minimalist lifestyle is an extremely personal journey, one which is decided by how far you want to, or need to take it. We decide what is minimal, necessary and unwelcome; if you are benefitting from the mindset - you are minimalist. Let’s look at the benefits of minimalism on the self, and the planet.
There are a plethora of lifestyle and health benefits to adopting the minimalist lifestyle. These are born of the abandonment of the consumerism lifestyle.
One of the most impactful influences it has is on the financial requirements of the everyday. By removing the urges to continually replace possessions, and keep up with the rampaging market, you will find more financial freedom to pursue the things that matter, or even save up better investments.
One likely encounter would be breaking away from fast fashion. More money means that more conscious purchases can be made such as higher quality clothing, which will provide longevity and practicality. The financial implications stretch far beyond fashion choices, the freedom provided by this can lead to a deeper exploration of hobbies, or the pursuit of more memorable experiences.
Benefits are not just exclusive to the physical, overtime by living a minimalist life, the items we choose to hold have much more meaning, as such a positive mental state of contentment is cultivated; this leads to stress being reduced as you are not overwhelmed by constant decision-making.
Furthermore, as you progress through this lifestyle, you’ll find a reduction in items owned, opening up storage for your home or reducing clutter, such examples of this are capsule wardrobes. This is vital to mental wellbeing as clutter is linked to increased stress-levels, and disrupts your attentive abilities. Another aspect of stress reduction is linked to the items we wear, the minimalist fashion always looks good no matter the trend, overthinking outfits, and chasing trends is never an enemy you have to face.
Minimalism does more than impact those who practice it, the planet benefits immensely. We’ve lightly touched upon the culprit for these issues - consumerism. Responsible for 60% of greenhouse gas emission, consumerism is the main reason why fast fashion, shoddy-made and often unnecessary purchases dominate our homes and wardrobes. As we are using the products for longer, we are required to purchase them less frequently, plus with a key selling point of minimalist clothing brands being sustainability - it’s a win-win for planet and person.
Certain lifestyle changes tied to minimalism can be beneficial to the planet. Similar to fashion, other things such as electronics can be reduced significantly, there isn’t a necessity for multiple screens in our homes. Building on this, recycling is a positive action which can be done through becoming minimalist. Donating old clothing, technology and anything else really; clothes can be donated to many charities and some stores like H&M offer recycling schemes - this is an excellent excuse to start a capsule wardrobe.
Maybe minimalism is the change the world needs, maybe it's the change you need. Give it a go! Start small and start thinking about ways you can reduce that waste, cut spending, and reconnect with the essence of what is valuable in your wardrobe - your home and your life.