I'm a minimalist. Well, aspiring anyway. I suppose it's a natural extension of a sustainable lifestyle—having only what you need. I've been dabbling for a while with experiments like the 6 Items Challenge and paring down my beauty products; but I suspect that, like my vegetarianism, it will be a long process. Minimalism can take many forms, but I like this definition from The Minimalists:
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives.
For many years now, my husband and I have lived in small spaces. Our apartments in China were always quite small and we didn't own any furniture there. When we returned to the US in 2009, we had only suitcases, filled mostly with clothing. We started from scratch with furniture donated by my parents or found in thrift stores or on the sidewalk (I love finding awesome sidewalk stuff!) and we bought a bed and a couch. I think we have the right amount of furniture, but the amount of other stuff kept creeping up: books, linens, clothing, accessories, knickknacks. I come from a long line of hardcore organizers and I'd always been proud of my own skills. I can (and love to) organize massive amounts of stuff into tiny spaces where it is somehow still accessible. I even considered being a professional organizer. I thought this was a good thing (Thanks, Martha!), but then I read the article that started me on this journey, also by The Minimalists. In it, they state:
No matter how organized we are, we must continue to care for the stuff we organize, sorting and cleaning our meticulously structured belongings. When we get rid of the superabundance of stuff, however, we can make room for life’s more important aspects.
It was then I understood that my carefully organized stuff was still taking up my valuable time. And even though I enjoy organizing, I had to ask myself if that time and those things were adding value to my life. The answer: no. I decided then that I would start the journey of minimalism. The Minimalists website is a great place to start learning, specifically here. I'm still in the "getting rid of physical stuff" stage. I also have the desire to get my unwanted stuff to the most appropriate place, so I have stacks of books and piles of clothes in corners of the apartment; it's annoying, but a necessary part of the process for me. My friend, Christina, has impeccable taste and a minimal aesthetic and is kindly helping me pare down my clothing into a capsule collection. Another friend, Lauren, is a constant inspiration of minimalism for the sake of the environment (zero waste, actually). I'm in good company and well on my way!
What do you think? Could you be a minimalist? Are you ready to get rid of anything not adding value to your life?