Posted on June 05 2020
Few people possess so much of what others lack, and it's not just about money. How many things do you own and how many of them do you really need? Minimalism is doing good.
Where until recently there was widespread consumption, a new trend is taking hold. Less is more – not only the Millennials, but also older contemporaries are beginning to question whether you really need this abundance of things that the average person is surrounded by.
Consumption does NOT make us happy
In fact, we go to work, take on debts and commit to properties of which we often have nothing at all. The dream house? Standing empty all day long. Great cars? Hardly time to use them, plus they are expensive and polluting. Smart TV, stereo, gadgets for the kitchen... all of which go unused most of the time. Because we are at work all day long. This has consequences. There is little time for personal, human contact. Children and partners fall by the wayside, as does one's own health.
Our consumer behaviour harms ourselves – and the environment
And the consumption surplus is not good for the planet either. Whereas fruit and vegetables used to be seasonal, we have long since become accustomed to having fresh fruit from faraway places in the supermarket all year round. Exotic delicacies are not uncommon. Something rare should remain something special, but the flood of availability makes it normal and takes the special away from things. And for our consumption elsewhere, landscapes, people and animals are exploited.
But not only that: global consumption creates luxury goods and consumer goods around the globe. Not only our food travels halfway around the world, but also the objects we buy. Of course, all this is processed, cooled, packed in plastic – and often travels by plane.
Everywhere too much is consumed
Too much consumption can actually be found in all areas of life. People celebrate their supposed individuality, staged by advertising, by buying products that are always up to date, always a little bit ahead of all the others, equally “individual” contemporaries. A good example is the electronics industry, which makes people around the world work hard under unsustainable conditions. This applies to child labor in the mining of rare earths in Africa as well as in chip factories in Southeast Asia. And you could easily use your mobile phone for a few years without any problems. The same applies to the “fashion” industry. Here, cheap disposable articles are produced that are worn for a few weeks or less and then have to be bought again – so-called fast fashion. Not everyone thinks of the environmental damage caused by the cultivation of cotton, the chemicals in the dyes and the inhuman working conditions of people in the Third World.
However, these considerations are rarely the trigger for lived minimalism. In the majority of cases people go through a personal break, question their previous life and change their life and consumer behaviour on the basis of this experience.
Minimalism or “conscious living” is an alternative concept to the prevailing, consumerist materialism. Those who choose to have less usually want to BE more conscious. Those who have few possessions are less committed. The lower material obligation allows for freedom – more time and money for everything that really counts. This is liberating.
The Swiss Cédric Waldburger lives with no more than 64 objects – all in black. He is happy, watch the report about him on Youtube:
Deliverance from things
Although very few of us are real “hoarders” who can part with absolutely nothing, we all simply keep too many things. Things that we might need some day, things that are “still good” or to which we somehow simply cling. But the fact that these things are really consciously used or taken by hand hardly ever happens. If you separate yourself from them, you don’t miss them – and you even feel much lighter.
How does a minimalist life work?
To live more consciously, you don’t have to become radically minimalist like those miracle beings who get by with three dozen objects in their possession. If you want to free yourself from the overvaluation of material objects and the demands of work intensification, you don’t have to become too ascetic either. It is a good start to clear out one’s own everyday life and put consumer behaviour to the test.
Advisors for those who want to free themselves from the burden of collecting, recommend, for example, walking around the apartment daily for a week with a large basket and putting in everything you can spare. Those who fill the basket for seven days will find it much easier to part with most of their personal belongings. Soon a certain amount of satisfaction sets in – less vacuuming, tidying up, cleaning. The same applies to clothing. A few high-quality pieces, preferably from sustainable production, designed for combinability, replace the overflowing wardrobe, in which one has never really found anything suitable.
And the wallet thanks you – because if you want less, you spend less. This allows you to cut back on overtime and invest the money that is no longer needed for consumption in a good bottle of wine, some worth reading books or a journey.
In the end, it is the emotionally touching experiences we remember at the end of our lives.