Thursday, April 14, 2011

Minimalism vs. Consumerism

Alternate title: Stop Buying Crap

I'm being pulled into the enigma that is known as living a minimalistic lifestyle. WAIT, DON'T GO - IT'S LESS BORING THAN IT SOUNDS. Minimalism can be defined in as many ways as there are practicing individuals. For me, the first step is to shift the consumerist behaviors of my family. Less purchased, less wasted. More time enjoying a simple life with my husband and kids, learning to be content and not needing to buy things all the time, living with fewer possessions but more time to do the things we love. Finding fulfillment in that which is truly important to us, without the distraction of stuff, or a need for it.

I have been in desire of an orderly environment for as long as I can remember. A clear space clears my mind. So, this isn't just a whim of spring cleaning - it's a cutthroat analysis of what we truly need. Opening our living space, our emotional space, and our spiritual space to opportunity. When I see my child throwing an epic cow over a meaningless piece of crap toy, I cringe. When I hear Jack proclaim that he NEEDS something, and then assure himself that "it will come in the mail tomorrow", I feel responsible. When I pull clothing from my closet that still has tags on it, as well as a thin layer of dust, I feel like an a-hole. We are capable and designed for so much more. But we are distracted by a culture programing us toward consumerism and instant gratification.

I suppose a distracted, greedy flock of
sheeple is less demanding of quality.

I'm working my way through our home, finding goods that can be donated, opening space for more organization and less chaos. I'm having deep conversations about this with my children who have no understanding of families that are in need. How did I let that happen? Well, I've been distracted by our own needs. And that is a shame. Ba-a-a-a-d sheep.

My minimalism doesn't mean I have to live out of a backpack or go without nice things. But it does mean using and caring for the stuff I choose to own. It means living mindfully. If it sounds like a pain in the ass, especially the declutter portion, focus on one small piece at a time. Find a room or space (A DRAWER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD) that can be easily minimized. I started in our dining room, where there wasn't any clutter. I removed a few items that belonged somewhere else, re-evaluated some choices, wiped things down, and opened the windows. It made such an emotional difference that I was inspired to move into other areas of our home.

Minimalism doesn’t need any one set of rules or type of environment. There are no prerequisites for minimalism. Do it however you want, however you can, wherever you want.


  1. Doing the exact same thing here! I get overwhelmed with too much clutter and feel soooo much better with a clean and organized house. Noah has a ton of toys...from us trying to 'buy' a few minutes of peace :)

    We have a long way to go but I already feel more serene :)

  2. Jill - I almost wrote about that in this post. We used to constantly buy something (small, because we knew it would only entertain him for a nano-second) for Jack when we were out. I think it became a habit. I totally get it.

  3. What a wonderful post! I've been living in a minimalist way for 15 years now -- ever since my then 3-year-old daughter stepped on and broke some of her toys because there were just too many of them on her floor. Her dad and I immediately swept into action, and from that point on, we periodically required her to give away toys that she was no longer using to children who didn't have her opportunities. After a while, it became a habit to her, and to this day, she gives things away easily, without a great deal of angst. Not bad for an 18-year-old!

    I, too, love uncluttered space and I'm constantly putting together boxes of things to give away. The simpler, the better, I think. I'm a thrift-store girl, and I always make a point to offload as much stuff as I bring in -- and more.

    P.S. I followed you here from Jillsmo's blog. I really appreciated your comment on my post, and I wrote you a reply in the comments section, but somehow it got lost, and Jillsmo is attempting to find it. Hope to see you on my blog!

  4. Thank you, Rachel! The simpler, the better - I couldn't agree more. I used to think it was a neurotic behavior of mine, something I should work on, but I think I am just uncomfortable with excess - and that ain't a bad thing! I hope I can do with my children what you've done with yours. :) TY for reading!

  5. LOVE this idea! I have always had the need to get rid of stuff and be organized and clean...ahhh makes me feel good:)

  6. An excellent piece of writing. My wife and I try to keep things simple to . I have thought for twenty years and more that living a low maintenance lifestyle was a large part of how we can all survive the future. I wrote this article all those years ago. Only now do people seem to be taking notice...!/LowMaintenanceLifestyles