When you think of minimalism you may think of travelers who are constantly counting their belongings and are trying to get as low of a number as possible. While this is minimalism of a sort it isn’t the only way and it could even be argued that this is taking the idea to the extreme. Minimalism essentially just means that you only have what you need and aren’t using or hoarding excess things that serve you no purpose. Within this definition, there is a lot of wiggle room on how this can be acted out.
Necessities are different for everyone. Necessities could include things for hobbies or recreational activities, given that these things are good for mental health and it is necessary for humans to have some kind of adventure and/or fun. While decluttering and getting rid of excess things can be an extremely rewarding activity it is easy to get caught up in the idea of minimalism and become too strict on what a necessity is while throwing things away. It’s important to keep in mind the core value of minimalism: To make your life easier and simpler so that you can enjoy what is important and enjoyable to you more easily and more freely.
Right now, minimalism is more needed on a wide scale than ever. Due to the massive over-creation of waste and pollution, we are realizing that a throwaway society that embraces single-use items is not the way to go. On this same principle, we are realizing that we buy a lot of pointless things. Think about all of the small, flimsy plastic items we buy to decorate for a get-together or for a quick gift for a child or white-elephant party. These things either get used that day and thrown away or they end up sitting in a junk drawer for years. The quick-gift culture that we have encourages people to buy useless things in the name of “thoughtfulness” and causes the recipients to feel wrong about getting rid of it because it was gifted to them. While the intentions may be pure the results aren’t great. These are just some of the things that contribute to the massive amounts of clutter that are collected effortlessly by pretty much every American. It actually takes more effort not to collect or accept junk than it does to do so.
A lot of people not only have one or two junk drawers but they may also have a junk shed or garage that’s filled to the brim with stuff that is hardly used. This makes life more difficult for multiple reasons. First, it makes things really hard to find when you’re looking for one random small thing in a whole room of packed away boxed. Secondly, you now have less space to dedicate to things that could actually be meaningful to you. Next, moving is a ridiculous process. Lastly, when you have stuff you know you have it and that sits in your mind taking up space and energy as well.
Now that we know what minimalism is, what acting it out would look like, and what the downfalls of not living a minimalistic lifestyle are, let’s look at why it is such an important thing for humans right now.
- Reducing Trash
As we already talked about minimalism helps reduce how much trash is being produced. We are in desperate need of trash reduction anyway we can get it due to overproducing trash to the point where beaches in third world countries are becoming landfills and our oceans have Texas-sized trash-islands. Because you get in the mindset of asking what you need you become better at not collecting things. It can be as simple as not accepting that flyer on the street to deciding to not get some new clothes because the ones you have still fit and are in good condition.
2. Population Growth
Because the world population is growing faster than we have ever seen before the production of useless items is also growing faster than ever before. People, in general, require a lot of things to live and be comfortable and companies take advantage of this fact by advertising just one more thing they think you should use and because the population is so large it’s hardly a risk to make something useless because some people will buy it. Additionally, due to the gigantic population, we have companies which can create something that people will only ever buy once but still make a profit and they are able to sell a ridiculous amount of inventory because there are simply so many people. Capitalism is great when it is driving improvement on necessary products but there are so many useless items that also arise out of this model. I have some ideas on how this specific issue could be fixed on a larger scale but that will have to be saved for a later post.
3. The Ability to Travel and Move Easier
As I mentioned above moving when you have enough stuff to fill a house is a ridiculous and tedious process. Not to mention all of the stress that comes with worrying if any of your things are getting broken or damaged. By choosing a minimalist lifestyle you are making it way easier on yourself to move when you need to as well as lessening your concerns about your things. On the same line of thought, it also makes traveling easier. You may think “I only bring what I need on vacation anyway, not my whole house.” The problem is that when you are not in a minimalist mindset day to day you tend to still bring non-necessary things when you vacation. This can also mean simply being a traveler with no set home which requires being as lightweight as possible and the ability to pack up and go whenever needed. These things are important for humans right now because as we see our population grow we will also see an increase in people who decide to simply travel for their life or move often rather than settling down in an overcrowded area or soon to be an overcrowded area.
4. The Ability to Live Comfortably in Smaller Spaces
Because of our massive population growth and the constant influx of people moving to big cities we are having to get adjusted to living in smaller and smaller spaces. This becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to do when you have boxes on boxes of excess stuff. By becoming minimalistic you are able to live more comfortably with less. Fewer things and less space. You start to realize how much you really need.
Being lightweight and less cluttered simply makes it easier to live life and to adapt to changing circumstances. It also reduces our worries and concerns because having less clutter in our space means less clutter in our minds. Minimalism may become a more widespread way of living as humanity advances for it is better for individuals as well as society as a whole. Of course, people don’t always make the right decisions but if we don’t we could be forced by unfortunate circumstances rather than making the choice on our own time when it is more comfortable to do so right now.