Minimalism has caught on again recently on the internet. With the right environment of a horrible economy, and an appetite for consumerism that cannot be satiated, people are starting to look for something else; something better. This is a great thing. And the bloggers and authors have come out of the woodwork with e-books, posts, and lifestyle designs of how we should reduce everything we own to 50 or 100 things. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great to only have 5o or 100 things and be able to pick up and move anywhere, but there are problems with this. I recently read a great post entitled “why I hate minimalism” that really nails one of the main problems with minimalism as its preached today. To sum up the post, today’s minimalism is just re-branded materialism. And on that point he is right, but that’s not the whole story.
TrulySimple was started to give me a push/excuse/reason to help me simplify my life and hopefully help and inspire others to do so. I’m all for reducing the amount of clutter and crap that consumes our lives. We all have too much, too many, etc, but its not about a number. I’m consistently trying to simplify my life, but I have no illusions about getting down to a specific number of items for several reasons. First, any system that is so legalistic about your possessions being either materialism or minimalism is flawed to begin with. Secondly, I’m a creator, a builder, a fixer, a tinkerer etc. I have hundreds if not thousands of tools. Many were hand-me-downs from my grandpa or father and many are duplicate or triplicates of other tools.
Do I really need 157 different wrenches? (yes I just went out to the garage to count them). That is also the question my wife asks me whenever I try to get rid of anything of hers. And the answer is yes. I use them a lot. Each has a purpose and each gets used when I need it. I could get rid of all my tools or most of them to live within a specific low number of items, but why? I love to build. I love to fix. I love to create.
Don’t reduce your possessions to some arbitrary number because someone else did. Change your habits of consumption to make your life easier for you and do good for this planet. You should get rid of the things you don’t use, but don’t get rid of things you do just for the sake of minimalism.
One of my goals for 2011 is to continue to reduce the unused and unnecessary items I have laying around. I want to get rid of them, again not to reach some arbitrary number, but to give myself the space for the things I do use often.
With that goal in mind I’ve started the One-A-Week project in which I’m getting rid of one thing each week.
What is your take on minimalism and all this? Let me know in the comments