What is minimalism?
Annually, Canadians throw away 12 million tones of textiles and $150 billion in plastic.1,2 Minimalism might be a mandatory practice moving forward if we want to keep our environment safe and habitable.
First, what is minimalism?
One scholar describes modern minimalism in North America as representing “increasingly popular critical reflection on the ills of consumerism and an effort to forge new ways of living amidst consumer capitalism. In the face of escalating consumption, debt, and environmental degradation, minimalists’ calls for rethinking “needs”…”3
You could say minimalism is used by some as a rebellion against capitalism and consumerism, in an effort to protect the environment. But this is not the case for everyone. Some use minimalism as a way to stay organized and avoid stress. As in the popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (New York Time’s best sellers list) shows us, minimalism can be implemented in the home to declutter and keep only what we need.
Whatever reason is behind your minimalism endeavour, there are benefits to this practice and adopting some of the skills yourself might decrease the amount of stress in your life and improve your overall wellbeing.
The benefits of minimalism
You might be familiar with the documentary Minimalism: A documentary about important things which was the #1 indie documentary of 2016 (largest box-office opening). Shortly after its release, this documentary became available on Netflix. This allowed many people to stream the film and learn the benefits of practicing minimalism.
Financial independence & stability: As one would expect, when cutting down on the things you buy, you’re going to save money. But
in a culture where we’re encouraged to spend and show off that we have money, it’s hard to cut back and solely invest in things you need rather than things you think will make you happy. For example, the filmmakers sold their new vehicles and opted for used cars, and downsized their homes. Obviously, this kind of minimalism is out of reach for some folks as not everyone owns a vehicle or a home, but there are other ways to cut back. Try following advice from financial bloggers and educators to get your finances on track. Oftentimes they will use minimalism as a way to help you reach more of a stable, financially freeing point in your life. Depending on where you are in your minimalism journey, we recommend checking out Mr. Money moustache or My Fab Finance for advice and resources.
Minimizing: Oftentimes people assume minimalism = deprivation, when in fact it’s the opposite! Minimizing focuses on keeping only what you need, and ridding yourself of things that you may feel you have to keep. A good technique to use when minimizing is asking yourself “What purpose does this item serve in my life?” and if you don’t have an answer, donating or selling the item might be a good idea.
Other benefits: Some say living minimally will give you less of an incline to buy more unnecessary things, you’ll be able to find things you need quickly, saving you time and you’ll have a clearer mind.4 A universal complaint is ‘not having enough time’. Minimizing can give you the time to focus more on yourself, loved ones and pursuing true happiness.5 The less time you spend shopping, buying things and cleaning a large space = more time to focus on self-care and exploration.
Where to start
The beginning can feel daunting, and many of us have emotional attachments to things. Whether it’s because they were a gift, hold nostalgia or we just feel connected to it in some way, it can feel impossible to get rid of some things.
Start small – Familiarize yourself with minimalism by reading books, listening to podcasts or watching the Minimalism Documentary. Visit your public library or indie bookstore and ask for their minimalist book recommendations.
Stay committed – Practicing minimalism in a culture that wants you to continuously buy new things is no easy feat! Understand that it will be hard at the beginning, and might require some changes. For example, you may have to restructure your social activities if they used to involve shopping. Find folks who are interested in taking the minimalist approach in life and help each other get there.
Inspiration- If you’re on social media, chances are you see the best of everyone’s lives. The cutest outfits, latest trends and fanciest cars. But, what would happen if you muted those accounts for a while, and started following minimalists? A couple of our favourite minimizing Instagram accounts are @600sqftandababy – A family of 4 that lives in a 600 square foot home in Vancouver and @summittinyhomes – Canadian made tiny homes!
Minimalism during the holidays
The holidays are likely when we’re targeted with ads the most. It can feel impossible not to buy the perfect gifts for loved ones, as we’re inadvertently pressured to show our love through gifts. Don’t worry though, you can still gift experiences to loved ones which they will likely appreciate even more! Things like spa gift cards, travel vouchers, movie tickets and restaurant gift cards are all experiences rather than physical items. Read our article Rethink the gift to get more unique holiday gift ideas.
Go minimal or go home
Not everyone can uplift their life and become a minimalist expert overnight. However, we do believe everyone can take the principles of minimalism and use them in small ways in their own life. Things like buying products with little to no plastic packaging, thrift shopping and using the same fabric grocery bags might be minimizing actions you’re already taking.
By adopting minimalism we can help the planet and live our best lives.
Good luck on your minimizing journey, and don’t forget to share this article with a minimalist friend!
1 – https://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/clothes-from-canada-account-for-huge-waste-cbc-marketplace-1.4494444
2 – https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/canadians-throwing-out-up-to-150b-worth-of-plastic-a-year-mckenna-1.4007967