We live in a culture that values excess and places emphasis on constantly doing and constantly acquiring more. With the internet, we have access to more things and have accumulated more today than ever before. Our landfills and oceans are a testament to our consumption, acquiring millions of tons of trash each year. In addition to our culture of physical consumption, we are constantly consuming digital media and focusing on technology. Technology monopolizes not only our time but also our mental state. This leaves many of us feeling drained, unsatisfied, anxious, and undernourished. Minimalism is an answer to this feeling of overstimulation and not enough. Minimalism is a mindset that encourages us to be aware of our lives, our passions and our needs. It encourages us to embrace our true values and desires and release the things that we do not need and do not bring us true joy.
What Is minimalism?
When you hear about minimalism, perhaps you think of art, or design. Maybe you have heard of the 100 Things Challenge or are intrigued by the idea of tiny homes. Minimalism can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Society uses it is a term in regard to a broad scope of things. But we are discussing minimalism as a lifestyle approach. Minimalism is often discussed with the term intentionality. Minimalism at its core is living intentionally with essentials only. A few more sophisticated definitions:
“We define minimalism as the process of identifying what is essential in your life and eliminating the rest.”
From Becoming Minimalist
“At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”
From The Minimalists
“Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
As these definitions so eloquently state, minimalism is about intentionally choosing what you value and need in your life, what brings you joy, and focusing on those things and removing anything that diverts us from them. Minimalism is getting rid of everything that is unnecessary – from commitments, to relationships, to clothing and material items – and focusing on what is essential and brings us freedom and fulfillment. By getting rid of stuff, we allow more space in our lives for love, passion and life. In addition to gaining personal freedom and joy, some minimalists identify as environmentalists. They find great fulfillment using minimalism as a way to reduce the amount of waste they produce.
What does minimalism look like? What is a minimalist?
At its root, minimalism means living with only the essentials and the things that bring us joy and freedom. A minimalist’s lifestyle can look a lot of different ways depending on each person’s preferences and goals. Some people choose to dramatically scale down their lives and live in tiny homes. While others choose to thoughtfully purchase only what they love and need, perhaps only from small businesses or environmentally friendly companies, and get rid of anything in their home that doesn’t serve a purpose. Minimalism can be a personal challenge to live with only 100 things or scale down your wardrobe to 33 pieces for 3 months.
How is minimalism connected to veganism? Why is it important to vegans?
Veganism is one form of activism that’s part of a collective rebellion against a global culture of waste and not living with respect for the life of humans, animals and the planet. Minimalism is also a rebellion against this culture of excess and waste and seeks to eliminate excessive, mindless consumption which in turn reduces the waste produced. Minimalism is for many, a form of environmental activism and a way to live more sustainably.
By buying only what we truly need, we shift our impact on the supply and demand of products. By buying only what we need or truly want, we have no reason to constantly throw things out once they lose their appeal. Buying only what we need in terms of food helps to eliminate unused items that go into the trash. Minimalism can be an incredibly rewarding form of activism for ourselves and the planet.
Environmental Activism – A Common Ground for Minimalism and Veganism
Minimalism can have even greater environmental impacts when we consider choosing to downsize into smaller homes and downsize how many vehicles we need per house. You can turn a minimalist lifestyle into a sustainability challenge. Seek to purchase less and only items that are ethically made, fair trade, organic, locally made, from small businesses, etc. When we view minimalism as a form of environmental activism, it is very clearly compatible with veganism. That’s because many choose a vegan lifestyle to combat global warming and reduce their carbon footprint. Minimalism is one more way those who have chosen a vegan lifestyle can make an impact on the planet and those that live on it by choosing to spend our dollars wisely to reduce environmental damage. It’s a natural shift towards living a more ethical and sustainable life.
Minimalism is a natural extension and progression of veganism
Minimalism is viewed as a way to free ourselves mentally and emotionally and lead more joyful lives. When we choose to really look inward to examine our values and what nourishes us, it immediately gives us a guidance system to navigate our life and makes it easier to choose a path that will fulfill us.
Veganism is a lifestyle that at its core, places value on life and honoring the life of all living beings. It’s living in alignment with that belief despite how we grew up or what our taste buds think they want. And it gives a deep sense of freedom, purpose, and joy to know we no longer contribute to suffering and death. Many vegans have had to examine their beliefs and decide how they want to live as their old lifestyle was based upon death and deception. Minimalism is a natural extension and progression of veganism. It just extends our values from what’s on our plate and in our closet to how we want to live and what we truly need.
How to Live a Minimalist Life?
As we stated above, minimalism can look a lot of different ways depending on one’s preferences and goals. It’s not a race and it isn’t throwing out everything you own because stuff is bad. We’ve created a list to help get you started on your minimalist journey.
Knowing what minimalism is and what different methods other people have used can be incredibly helpful in determining how you’ll approach it. Reading books and watching videos can also be a helpful way to get partners and family on board with living more simply.
2. Set a goal and a timeline.
Many well-intentioned life-changing goals are thrown to the wayside when timelines aren’t imposed to hold us accountable. Set a goal for yourself, perhaps you want to pare down your wardrobe or live in a smaller home. Whatever your goals are, having them on paper and knowing why you want them will make it easier to begin your journey and follow through.
3. Clean out your home (or your closet, your car, your work desk etc).
Take the time to thoroughly clean out each room. This can be a one-room-per-day project or you can even take it slower and go through drawers or closets per day. Whatever you choose, just keep up the momentum! Get rid of duplicates. Ask yourself why you have ______ and do you really need it? How often do you use it? Does it bring you joy? Was it an impulse buy of a trendy item that’s lost its appeal? Get rid of it! Make sure you remove things from your house as you clean, not leaving them in another room or space. Organize your rooms as you go so that everything has a place. One popular method of organizing the home is by Marie Kondo called the KonMari Method, which you can find here.
4. Buy Less.
We all have needs and have to buy things from time to time. Whether it’s a desk for a home workspace or new dining room chairs because the old ones are beyond repair, it happens. If we do need to buy something new, it’s worthwhile to research and consider investing in high quality, well-made items that will last. It’s also worth considering purchasing organic, ethically sourced, locally made, environmentally friendly etc. If you own an item that is broken but can be repaired, learn to fix it by watching a YouTube video. Or take it to a professional who can repair it.
The following are fantastic resources to get you started on your minimalist journey.
- The Minimalist Vegan
- Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- The Minimalist Mindset