Reasons for not being a minimalist
After last weeks post on the benefits of a minimal wardrobe, I wanted to bring you another side to the minimalist story. If you are interested in minimalism you must be warned that there is a terrible amount of wasteful ‘minimalist’ advice out there. It is bound to happen when a concept is in vogue. But it is something that I find quite worrying. People advising you to go through drastic purges without any time to reflect on the reasons you accumulated the stuff in the first place. Worse still, advising you to get rid of your stuff at all costs, even if it means trashing perfectly useful items. I even came across one blogger who suggested that buying your minimalist wardrobe from cheap fast fashion stores was perfect, because the clothing wore out quickly so you could replace your minimalist wardrobe as fast as the fashion trends change!
So after reading through so much unsustainable minimalism, it was a breath of fresh air to read the following article by fellow Ethical Writers Coalition member Julia Sprangler. The post originally appeared on her blog Fair For All Guide where she writes about ethical fashion and living an ethical lifestyle.
I once dated a guy who was a minimalist. His apartment had some basic furnishings, bare walls, a shelf of some books and DVDs, and not much else. (Actually, looking back I’m realizing that none of my boyfriends have owned a lot of stuff, which might say something psychologically interesting about me.) The first time he came to my apartment, the first words out of his mouth were, “You have a lot of stuff!”
This was after I had already begun consciously not accumulating new stuff, so needless to say I was rather affronted. After further thought, though, I decided that having a lot of stuff isn’t inherently something to be ashamed of.
Minimalism is a buzzword these days, and as a theory it has a lot of merit. In practice, though, most people aren’t starting from zero, so attaining lofty minimalist benchmarks (like having a super-small wardrobe) is unrealistic. If you’ve already accumulated a lot of possessions, to purge all those items just so you can be “minimal” epitomizes a wastefulness that to me seems at odds with the entire philosophy of minimalism.
The main reason I’m not a minimalist is the realization that just because it’s not my problem anymore doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Minimalism espouses the mental and emotional benefits of living with less. I agree that removing clutter and excess can have very positive effects… on the person losing the clutter. However, you can’t ignore the fact that whatever you get rid of continues to exist, whether in a thrift store, a secondhand market in a developing country, or a landfill. (There’s a good chance your stuff will travel through all three.)
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