Why Minimalists Are Giving Up Their Personal Possessions

Why Minimalists Are Giving Up Their Personal Possessions
NaksomritStudio / shutterstock

I recently spoke to a man named Adam who told me that every object he owns could fit in one of Ikea’s famous shelving units. He owns two pairs of jeans and T-shirts in just three colours. He is so concerned with the ethical and environmental impacts of his possessions, that he once spent two months researching a pair of jeans to buy. Then when he finally took them to the till, he didn’t buy them as he noticed a tiny square of leather on the back.

Adam is a “minimalist”. Minimalism is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice that involves voluntarily reducing the number of possessions owned to a bare minimum. It is based on the premise that “less is more”, as reducing physical possessions is seen to make way for the important non-material things in life such as personal wellbeing and everyday experiences.

The term minimalism surfaced after the 2008 financial crash and has become popular in the US, Japan and Europe over the past decade. Figureheads have emerged, such as US-based Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who have released two feature-length films about minimalism on Netflix, and state on their website that they “help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less”.

Intrigued by the rising popularity of minimalism, I started researching minimalist, books, online content and podcasts. As an academic interested in fashion and sustainable consumption, I also wanted to know about the main motivations and values of minimalists, and how it played a part in people’s everyday lives.

To find out more, I conducted in-depth interviews with 15 people across the UK who defined themselves as minimalists. Some lived in homes with relatively few possessions and others could fit all their possessions in just a few storage boxes.

Why minimalism?

The people interviewed explained they were mainly minimalists due to the personal benefits it provides. This includes being able to travel and move house easily, having more time (as they spend less time shopping, cleaning and repairing their possessions) and feeling happier (due to having less stress from clutter and a firmer control of their personal finances due to less shopping).

Some discovered minimalism later on in life and had big clear outs of their possessions. Others decluttered occasionally and some never decluttered at all, explaining that they had never accumulated a lot of possessions, having always had minimalist tendencies before the term even emerged.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Many of the minimalists were concerned about decluttering and issues of waste and landfill. Those who had decluttered didn’t mention throwing things away. Instead, they tended to sell on higher value items and gave other things away to charity shops, which they saw as more convenient and they liked the idea of another person being able to find value in the item.

Many of the minimalists strongly disliked shopping, consumer culture and materialism. Some said they didn’t want to buy things in order to “keep up with the Joneses” and saw minimalism as a way in which they could avoid feeling like they had to. Also, some (but not all) of the minimalists were motivated to shop less in order to be more sustainable.

Everyone I interviewed reduced their possessions by trying to buy less and by repairing and maintaining what they already had. When they do buy things, they are very considered – questioning if they really need something carefully, avoiding impulse purchases, taking time to research goods (like Adam and his jeans) and trying to purchase less by buying “quality over quantity”.

A sustainable (non-)consumer lifestyle?

Some of the minimalists were extremely motivated by sustainability and try to only buy second-hand products or new products that are sustainably and/or ethically made. Others saw not buying very much as a sustainable “by-product” of their minimalist lifestyle, rather than a main motivation. And some were not motivated by sustainability concerns at all.

However, minimalism still has largely sustainable outcomes, even if this is not always the main motivation. Practices like highly reduced and carefully considered consumption, or carefully choosing what to dispose of to avoid things going into landfill, are clearly better for the environment than default disposable culture.

Regardless of their sustainability motivations, everyone I interviewed said minimalism made them happier. This perhaps explains its increasing popularity and also demonstrates its potential importance. By offering personal benefits and pleasures, minimalism may encourage more people to adopt a more sustainable anti-accumulation lifestyle – even if sustainability is always the main intent.

About the AuthorThe Conversation

Amber Martin-Woodhead, Lecturer in Human Geography, Coventry University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration
 

INNERSELF VOICES

Healing Otherness: Your Changes, Reflected in Community
Healing Otherness: Your Changes, Reflected in Community
by Stacee L. Reicherzer PhD
Seeking out a community of healing, being exploited in it, perhaps assuming the shame and…
Horoscope Week: June 14 - 20, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: June 14 - 20, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
Being A Better Person
Being A Better Person
by Marie T. Russell
"He makes me want to be a better person." As I reflected on this statement later, I realized that…
Modeling Behavior is the Best Teacher: Respect Must Be Mutual
Modeling Behavior is the Best Teacher: Respect Must Be Mutual
by Carmen Viktoria Gamper
Socially respected behavior is learned behavior and some of it (for instance, table manners) varies…
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
by Lawrence Doochin
When we are in community, we automatically fall into service to those in need because we know them…
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
by Jason Redman
Ambushes don’t just happen in combat. In business and life, an ambush is a catastrophic event that…
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
by Vatsala Sperling
Cultures on every continent around the world have a collective memory of a time when their…
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
by Maryon Stewart
Many women assume that when their menopause symptoms stop, they are on safe ground. Sadly, we face…

MOST READ

An Open Letter to the Entire Human Family
An Open Letter to the Entire Human Family
by Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj
This is the moment of truth for humankind. Critical choices must now be made in order to protect…
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
by Maryon Stewart
Many women assume that when their menopause symptoms stop, they are on safe ground. Sadly, we face…
This Pandemic Has Shown That Following The Same Road Will Lead The World Over A Cliff
This Pandemic Has Shown That Following The Same Road Will Lead The World Over A Cliff
by Ian Goldin, University of Oxford
Despite the tragic deaths, suffering and sadness that it has caused, the pandemic could go down in…
A health-care worker performs a COVID swab test on a patient.
Why are some COVID test results false positives, and how common are they?
by Adrian Esterman, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of South Australia
Two COVID-19 cases previously linked to Melbourne’s current outbreak have now been reclassified as…
0mc9bvhy
Banking That Serves People, Not Bankers
by Jim Hightower
Corporate ideologues never cease blathering that government programs should be run like a business.…
image
The mystery of long COVID: up to 1 in 3 people who catch the virus suffer for months. Here's what we know so far
by Vanessa Bryant, Laboratory Head, Immunology Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Most people who get COVID suffer the common symptoms of fever, cough and breathing problems, and…
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
by Jason Redman
Ambushes don’t just happen in combat. In business and life, an ambush is a catastrophic event that…
image
IRS hitting you with a fine or late fee? Don't fret – a consumer tax advocate says you still have options
by Rita W. Green, Instructor of Accountancy, University of Memphis
Tax Day has come and gone, and you think you filed your return in the nick of time. But several…
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
by Vatsala Sperling
Cultures on every continent around the world have a collective memory of a time when their…
Why We Must Quickly Find Ways Of Using And Wasting Less Energy
Why We Must Quickly Find Ways of Using and Wasting Less Energy
by Michael (Mike) Joy, Victoria University of Wellington
As countries explore ways of decarbonising their economies, the mantra of “green growth” risks…
Turning 75
Turning 75: A Magic State of Wonder (Video)
by Barry Vissell
This month (May 2021), both Joyce and I turned 75. When I was younger, 75 years old seemed ancient.…
How Well Your Immune System Works Can Depend On The Time Of Day
How Well Your Immune System Works Can Depend On The Time Of Day
by Annie Curtis, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
When microorganisms – such as bacteria or viruses – infect us, our immune system jumps into action.…
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
by Lawrence Doochin
When we are in community, we automatically fall into service to those in need because we know them…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.