This is a quick guide in understanding minimalism and how it can help make your world a better place. I'm always trying to find ways to leave this world better than we found it.
Studies in minimalism began with art and expression in the 60's and 70's. From there, we have evolved and so has the concept, whether it takes the definition of minimalist music, politics or art as the vehicle. Our sacred spaces are a creative expression of who we are reflected in our things. Being aware of this, we can be more deliberate in how we consume and surround ourselves.
I consider it a lifestyle of minimizing consumption and waste. Living green for the environment and all it's beautiful creatures- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Some questions to ask yourself:
Is this Useful? Will I use this regularly? Will this impact the environment negatively?
We lived in an Airstream for 6 months last summer. Prior to moving I would watch countless tiny living videos and read articles to get excited. I have been following an author named Timber Hawkeye who lives in an RV in Hawaii. I watched the Minimalists movie, highly recommend it. I donated almost all my clothing and extra items and most of my furniture. There is a donation program that I decided to use especially since there was a drop off right down the street from my house. They make claims of helping third world countries and the environment, though I recommend researching it more first before choosing donation site, because they apparently don't all live up to their claims of being charitable. I wish I would have done more research prior. This was a lesson learned for me.
I want to really express just how liberating looking at a closet that is nearly empty feels. I've always tried to purge at least once a year, but this was way more than just a bag of stuff I hadn't worn in years- this was almost everything! “Keep only those things that speak to your heart." -Marie Kondo
I try to buy from thrift stores and clothing swaps as much as possible all the time. I have always had this philosophy that if it hasn't been used in 30 days get rid of it. Also, it is helpful to choose clothing that can be interchangeable and match with anything, like neutral color combinations. Okay, so, easier said than done though. In the bathroom I definitely recommend this tactic. Look in your drawers and cabinets at all the beauty products and cosmetics and makeup you never use. Toss it! There is a reason you don't like it. Donate to a neighbor or friend or kid. Going forward, buying this stuff from places that take returns easily is recommended. Use refillable bottles. I love Dr. Bronners soap. You can use it on everything, and they will let you refill bottles at many health food stores that have bulk sections. I also love Aveda because not only are the products amazing, but they use mostly wind power and you can bring old bottles in to recycle. They even have low waste makeup options. I found a local soap maker that makes shampoo bars so no bottle, no waste at all. There are even recyclable toothbrushes available in some stores. Cluttered bathroom counters are the worst. (Remember, sacred space.)
"If I dont own it, then I dont have to dust it." -Timber Hawkeye
In the kitchen, buy bulk as much as possible. I even reuse the bulk bags for nuts and pasta and such. Save those old spice containers and refill them. Buy the big bottles of soap and refill them. Always reuse and recycle as much as you can. Bring your own coffee cups, or make your own coffee at home instead of spending daily for a big corp to caffeinate you. We use a French press and pour over methods, again less waste. Buy local produce as much as possible to help support local farmers, and don't forget to compost if you can. In America there is a huge issue with food waste from businesses, and just average people buying more than they need. Refill soap dispensers. If getting filtered water from the store use refillable bottles.
We moved our Airstream to a beautiful lot that a family member let us use with tons of acreage. We have been able to pay off debts, save tons of money, and make a down payment on a house. We have been living in the Airstream for 6 months now. It’s been a fun, memorable, once in a life time summer. There have been rough days, but it's all been more than worth it. We slept under the stars and listen to crickets to fall to sleep. It’s been about a 6-month long camping trip. Not everything is easy though. There are times where everything feels a hundred times harder here, such as laundry. We've been lucky to have friends and family let us come hang out and do laundry at their homes. I'll usually pay them back by giving them something or cleaning their kitchen or a free haircut. There are always laundry mats too, as well as bike laundry machines powered by you. As for cooking, we BBQ a lot and I use my crockpot more than ever. We have an oven; however, it doesn't have a thermostat so it's a bit difficult to regulate. I've burned a few things. Having an outdoor food prep area has been helpful.
Outdoor hygiene is interesting. On really hot days of summer we used a wading pool and a mister to stay cool, or found a creek to play in. Even though there is a bathroom with a big mirror I still find myself doing my makeup in the car or outside in natural light at the picnic table. Just like when camping, it seems we just don't have a bathing/showering priority.
Even though we have bought a big house with a big yard, we still plan to continue minimalist mannerisms. You don't have to live in a tiny home to be a minimalist. Shifting the paradigm on how we consume is a great responsibility we all can adopt. From the ways we eat to the ways we dress. I've also always liked the saying we vote with our dollars as well. Try to repair if broken before buying new, buy used instead of new, if it isn't serving you regularly give it away, learn to sew. This lifestyle will continue to grow and evolve with your own changes in life, whether you live in a mansion or a tent, live consciously.