Minimalism. What does minimalism actually mean? In recent times, it is spoken of in reference to a way of life. Some interpret it to mean lack of colour in a design space; some apply it to the practice of having less stuff to add more value, while others take it to mean reducing the impact on the environment. What exactly does minimalism mean?
When one attempts to google this term, the definitions include a style of art sculpture or a type of movement in music; nothing directly relating to way of life. But when one looks up the word “minimalist”, it is explained in terms of valuing yourself more than material things. Further to that, it means that buying what you need instead of everything you want.
I have personally always defined minimalism this way. Since I was young, I hated “stuff”. I have always preferred experiences or simple gestures over physical gifts. I would stress out about not offending the person gifting me presents and then being stuck with something I won’t use. I’ve always enjoyed having less; the idea of excess or clutter gives me anxiety. Several times a year I go through my entire place and literally ask myself if I can part ways with the item. In recent times, I even challenged myself to give away things I still liked; as a way to teach myself detachment from possessions. Then somewhere along the lines I became even more aware of the impact of the environment and it became more about reducing the waste and the consequences on the environment; so I shifted to also using less, and not just buying less.
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Most females love a full closet and many have called me weird for feeling anxious when mine starts to look too full. There is no judgement if living a minimalist lifestyle isn’t for you. But if this is something you are interested in, here are a few suggestions for living like a minimalist.
- One in, one out rule
Every time I purchase a piece of clothing, pair of shoes or accessory, I abide by the one in, one out rule; meaning that if I introduce something new, I have to give an item away. While this is a great rule to reduce clutter, it shouldn’t justify constantly purchasing items. Removing the contents from your household will have an impact on the environment. Try to avoid throwing them in the garbage and see if you can re-purpose the items (donation companies, family or friends). One man’s junk is another’s treasure.
- Buy what you need, not excess
This is an especially hard rule when there is a sale. The excited part of your brain screams that deals are not to be passed on. But realistically are you going to use all 10 bottles of hairspray in a year and take up all the space for storage? Chances are they will expire or you may want another brand down the line. Sure if you have a household of humans and the items will actually be used, but I am referring year to the random items you don’t actually need but want just cause of the price.
- Avoid Fast Fashion
Fast fashion avoidance is fairly new for me. While I am a fan of quality companies like Lululemon and Aritzia, I used to shop for trendy pieces at Forever 21 and Shein. But these companies mass produce cheap quality items, often with a huge imprint on the environment, and this year I’ve made an effort to stop supporting them. This rule isn’t a hard rule. Of course if there is an item that you know you will use often, then price and brand may be subsided. For example, T shirts from H and M are cheap but they last me years. I love their white V necks as I often wear them under my scrubs or with jeans. I have a couple of them that costed less than $10 and they are a couple years old and still kicking it.
- Keep organized to avoid clutter
Keeping your space organize is key to not only finding what you want when you need it but to actually using what you have. If your clothes, for example, are nicely organized then you know what you have and it will avoid re purchasing another dress when you have one similar but it’s buried deep in the back of the closet. Plus when things are in sight, you can use them more.
- End of season clean out
At the end of each season, I go through my place room by room and use it as an opportunity to part ways with items I didn’t really use that season. And it is often when charities are requesting donated goods, so a great chance to recycle items for further use.
- Ask for experiences, not tangible gifts
Most of us live in a world of excess. The desire for more always seems to be present. We can get anything we want at the click of a computer button. For birthdays and Christmas, loved ones are always seeking to buy the perfect gift. But what if we started asking for more experiences and less stuff? For example, why not do a friend Christmas get together at a restaurant or do a unique experience like Christmas market or show. Make it a night to remember and one where everyone can share in the experience, instead of exchanging gifts we will never use that probably costed a lot of stress to find.
- Borrow or recycle your wardrobe
For those one off occasions like weddings, conferences, costume party etc, why not borrow from a friend or try one of those rental clothing companies that are popping up a lot now. No point in buying something for a one off.
A few suggestions of clothing rentals in Toronto (not sponsored) are as follows:
I hope that this article inspires you to make a change, even if it is a small one. We don’t need half the things we own, and one can save money and the planet with a few small changes. Thanks for reading!