Over the weekend my dear friend “inspiration” paid me a visit.
I was relaxing on my couch watching documentaries about tiny houses and minimalism. I was quite intrigued about the idea of living without the need for excess space and extra stuff.
After a few hours had passed, I turned off the TV and began to think. I started picturing my life without the majority of my possessions. I looked around my very large house. I looked and I saw stuff. Stuff I overlooked on a daily basis.
I began asking myself questions like “Why do I have this?”
“Why have I kept this for so long?”
“Why did I think I would need this?”
That’s when I realized it was time to clean up my life. For the entire weekend, I thoroughly purged every inch of my house- living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, garage. Soon a couple of boxes of give away items turned into pounds of heavy furniture and abandoned kitchen supplies.
I never realized how much stuff I was holding on to- until now that is. What I thought was meaningful or useful quickly began to look like junk.
When I was done purging my home, I took one final walk through. There were empty cabinets and drawers and parts of the floor I hadn’t seen in a while. There was a lot of empty space.
I took a step back and stared at my project. I felt good. Really good.
It felt like freedom.
I learned a lesson throughout the weekend. I had given value to material possessions that sat in the garage collecting dust, or stayed in my closest for that “just in case” moment that never came.
As I stared at my stuff, I instantaneously began making connections between minimalism and sustainable living.
Although I’ve striven to live a sustainable, waste-free-as-can-be life, there was waste in my home that I wasn’t considering. Waste that had weighed my life down.
I never considered how my stuff was contributing to waste.
It seems obvious but for a long time I only thought about what I was putting in the trash can- not what I was collecting. By removing this physical waste from every square inch of my house I felt the tangibility of the freedom it brought.
It’s easy to see empty space in your house and think you need to fill it with something. Empty space was distracting for me. When I saw empty space, I saw the opportunity to buy something nice to place in that area. I would even consider my gathering of items as recycling. It was second hand.
What was the problem?
If you think this way about your house then odds are you will treat your mind this way. Being a part of the digital age has brought forth a fear of downtime. We are afraid of not doing something. We are afraid that if our minds are not occupied doing or thinking about something, we will go mad. Our minds crave stimulation of any kind at all times.
Clutter in you house gives you something to think about. It’s the chore that you need to get to later when you have time. It keeps your mind ahead of the game. And what is that game? It’s simple.
The more you have to do later, the less time you have to do nothing.
Having extra space isn’t bad. Filling space with items that you actually use isn’t bad either. The more space you have the more likely you are to fill that space with something good and useful if you are already conscious about what you are buying.
For example, purchasing a plant to place in a room. A plant has many different benefits. The problem only lies with the mindset of needing stuff to fill the dreaded space in your house because you feel like you have to.
Living with less
Living with less removes the mental and emotional attachment to insignificant materials; it enables you to be creative. You will strive to find multiple uses out of one item then finding multiple items for one use.
A consumerist society teaches the idea that the more money you make then the more stuff you can buy. The nicer stuff you own then the greater your worth is.
But choosing to live with less destroys that idea. It doesn’t mean you have to live with nothing. Minimalism isn’t about having nothing to own. It’s about owning the perfect amount of stuff. The goal is to own your possessions. You’re possessions should not own you.
Owning less stuff also means you’ll have more freedom to move around. You don’t want to feel tied down because of how much stuff you have.
I often see people (including myself) keeping items around their house for that “just in case” moment. It is very important to be prepared, but preparedness is not justification to hoard. There is such thing as false safety.
According to Environmental Issues, by mimicking nature we could reduce the waste of potential resources by up to 80%. Instead of thinking of your garbage can as a place for waste, think of it as a resource container.
You’re much more likely to repair or reuse objects that you normally wouldn’t if you had too much stuff.
A benefit to owning less is knowing exactly what you have because you’re using everything you own. Nothing is sitting on the shelf collecting dust.
There is no doubt that you will make better environmental choices by practicing to reduce and reuse whenever and wherever you can. Nature is our greatest teacher for waste management proving that nothing goes without purpose.