Moving beyond decluttering your stuff to adopting a minimalist philosophy can lift your spirit, free up your time and money, and help keep Earth habitable.
Decluttering is about paring down your stuff and organizing what remains. Minimizing is that and more. It is a way of life. Becoming a minimalist entails shifting your attitude about owning things and enjoying living your life with fewer material goods.
In part one of this post, I attempted to explain how my worry about Christmas consumerism and the health of our planet disrupted my decluttering project resulting in a change of direction from just decluttering to minimizing.
We will be exploring ideas about decluttering and minimizing in part two. I hope that this will help you in evaluating your own situation and deciding if you are ready to embark upon a minimalist journey.
Generally, decluttering involves going through the rooms in your house or apartment and your garage if you have one, tidying up and organizing your things. Often, it also includes getting rid of unwanted stuff by donating, giving, selling, recycling, or throwing it away.
Decluttering is a cathartic process for many people. Divesting yourself of stuff that you do not use or want anymore can be a liberating experience. By putting the things you do want and need in order, you can easily find and get to them.
Minimizing begins with an extreme version of decluttering involving reducing your stuff to the items you really, really need, use, or love. Once you complete the initial process, which could take you several months or more, the hard part begins. Living with fewer belongings means adding less stuff to your home and life in the future. Like eating a healthy diet, minimalism is something you strive to do, forever.
Becoming a minimalist usually requires making a substantial shift in your relationship with possessions.
Moving Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing
People’s reasons for taking a minimalist approach to stuff are variable just like people. My motive is to reduce environmental harm and keep Earth habitable for my children, your children, other people’s children, and future people. You may feel owning less stuff would free up your time for family activities, charitable work, or traveling. Maybe having fewer things, from clothes to pots and pans, would make your life feel less chaotic and more peaceful. Perhaps you would appreciate having more money to invest, save, or donate to a worthy cause.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to minimalism. If you are a parent with young children living in a suburb in California, your life is different from a forty-something unmarried New York City dweller. Older people have had more years to accumulate things, but younger people who have done a lot of shopping and buying might have amassed as much or more stuff. One person may be satisfied with holding onto a few keepsakes, or books, or fill in the blank ______, while another person needs more of these things to feel content.
I believe the common theme is a mindset of desiring to own less stuff and being willing to change.
Getting Started on Your Minimalist Journey
So, you made the decision to move beyond decluttering to minimizing your stuff. Congratulations! I can hear the planet sighing in relief.
Where do you start? It does not matter just start. If you need help or inspiration, try reading a post or two or checking out the resources in the sections below.
Your journey and mine will likely be filled with both supportive and unenthusiastic family members, unexpected challenges and benefits, and unyielding pressure to buy more stuff. Keep trying and make a u-turn if you need to.
Making Minimalism U-Turns
If you are like me, you have had decades to perfect your shopping and buying habits and are probably holding a “good consumer” certificate. Transforming your relationship with stuff may not go smoothly, at least at first.
My transformation hit a bump in the road the first week.
I was packing a box in the kitchen when I noticed a pile of muddy shoes belonging to various family members in the corner by the laundry room. We have received a lot of much-needed rain recently and it makes sense not to put muddy shoes in your closet, but it was making a mess on the kitchen floor.
My first impulse was to buy a plastic tub for each person to put dirty shoes in. I even made a note on my shopping list. Fortunately, I stopped myself from making the purchases by realizing that I could solve the problem using cardboard shoeboxes, an old towel, or occasionally wiping up the floor.
Sigh, I wonder how many times this type of scenario will occur before my first instinct is to use something I already have versus buying something new.
For fun and as means of evaluating my progress this year, I am keeping of list of the things that I buy and things I think about buying but do not. In the future, I plan to write a post sharing my results and any wisdom I acquire along the way to living a minimalist life.
Please share your ideas about minimizing your stuff and making u-turns with other readers.
- Keeping up with the Joneses – Let’s Not
- Move Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing Your Stuff – Part 1
- Spring Cleaning is a Green Thing to Do
- Spring Decluttering – Game Plan
- Spring Decluttering – Deciding, Sorting, and Parting Ways
- Spring Decluttering – Clutter Free Future
- Stop Junk Mail and Get Off Catalog Mailing Lists
- Stuff – Less is More
- The Story of Stuff – Book Review
- Becoming Minimalist (website)
- Be More with Less (website)
- Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, a film by Matt D’Avella, featuring Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
- No Impact Project, a film by Laura Gabbert & Justin Schein, featuring Colin Beavan and Michelle Conlin
- The Minimalists (website)
- The More of Less: Finding the Life you Want Under Everything You Own, a book by Joshua Becker
- The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better, a book by Annie Leonard