The further I go down the rabbit hole of consciously thinking about what I am wasting, the more I think about the items I do own. Do I really need this? Too often I have thought in terms of “I might need this one day” and then that day never comes. None of us want to accept that we have been programed to think a certain way about “stuff” but we do. Consumerism is all too real, and too often I find myself purchasing something for the wrong reasons. Learn how the world of minimalism plays into the less waste movement.
The KonMari Method
The hot new thing to hit the scene in the last few years is the Marie Kondo way of organizing your home, also known as the KonMari method. Marie’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was a huge hit for years before her Netflix show “Tidying Up” came out this year. Households around the world were jumping in head first and purging as much as they could. The KonMari method is all about keeping items in your home that “spark joy” for you and dumping those that do not. I too watched this show and liked the idea of purging things you don’t want or need anymore but I have done that for most of my life. The problem is I find I am doing it all too often. I purge, collect, purge and collect again and on and on. A vicious cycle, that I only recently have noticed.
Why did I not notice how much stuff I was collecting? Because it has become normal to purchase stuff all the time. 24 hours a day you can hop online and purchase whatever your heart desires. Drop something in your cart on Amazon and have it in a few days or even in some cases, a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, I have written often about great finds on Amazon but as I dig deeper into my motives for purchasing something, I find those smiling boxes are coming less and less. In the 80s and 90s, it was cruising the mall, today it is browsing Target shelves and Costco aisles. It becomes less about the item itself and more about what it represents, what it means to own it. Owning things is a status symbol and a something we can share in common with others around us. “Did you get the latest iPhone?” We see the worst in people every year during Black Friday sales and the pure madness that is gifting the “It” toy or gadget for those around us every year.
A great example is this poor man who had a heart attack in a Target and was lying on the floor and with no one helping him, when someone finally did get him help he ended up passing away at the hospital. Sad that it needs to be said, but we need to start paying more attention to the living things in our lives, and less to the items that are not living.
So you might ask, “So your solution is to never buy anything ever again?” No, not at all. Much like it is advised to be mindful of your appetite when eating to not over do it, we should be mindful when looking to purchase something. This is where the minimalist lifestyle comes into play.
First off, you don’t have to get rid of everything you own to be a minimalist! This lifestyle is purchasing or owning something with purpose in mind. Such as items you plan to use daily and cutting down on the excess. To stop associating your self-worth with what you own, and concentrate more on who you really are without all the stuff.
This plays into the zero waste or the less waste lifestyle because we consume and trash things as they lose value too quickly. Something like fast fashion is extremely wasteful. Technology is moving faster and faster and it is all about owning the best and the greatest. When we own less, we value the items we do own more because they serve a purpose in our lives rather than just taking up space. And we are running out of space for all of it. If this movement interests you, a great resource is: “Minimalism: A Documentary about Important Things” on Netflix. You can watch the trailer for it below (shout out to the scene in Tucson at the Tucson Festival of Books!). I found Courney Carver’s story of how she started project 333 challenge ( dress yourself with 33 items for 3 months) fascinating and inspiring. Learn more about it here.
This lifestyle is different for everyone, it is intended to bring joy to your life, not stress. So it is not for everyone, but for me it is all about balance. I am choosing to move slowly through everything I own and find what works best for me. But I now purchase mindfully, and avoid impulse purchases. Do I need to own this or can I rent or borrow it? In the end, if we are more mindful of what we purchase, the demand goes down, production stops, hence cutting down the waste.
What are your thoughts on the miminalist lifestyle?