2016 has been an exercise in purging for me. I mean this in a lot of ways. Most notable perhaps, is this emerging ethic of living with less.
No matter how much I whittle down my closet, kitchen, garage, possessions, I am amazed at how much I still own, and how there is always more to cull. It’s become a strangely satisfying process, sometimes (and with some things), cathartic in nature.
This translates into my life in many ways, a top-line few below.
- Everyday minimalism means never buying something for an occasion. I borrow, I repeat outfits, I layer, combine and wear across seasons.
- Everyday minimalism means maintaining what I own. I’ve become more aware of what I own, how to fix it, where to find replacement parts. I fix, repair, find owner’s manuals, and buy replacement parts before throwing out or donating the old.
- In the same vein, I’m acutely aware of what I own. In having less, it feels like more because I don’t forget about things lingering in closets and drawers, tags still attached.
- Household, wardrobe and fashion needs have become a heavily evaluated category. If it’s not essential, it’s probably just that: non essential. There are a few exceptions I make on this, but in doing so I try to increase the quality of what I buy, to make them last longer.
- Shopping for a new season is not an agenda item. Instead, shopping with longevity, quality and sustainability have become the primary factors. The consideration of price is now next to last on the list, although it’s not as expensive as you’d think to buy with a conscience.
- I am really not a fun person to shop with.
- Similarly, I’ve slowly moved away from my thrift shop hauls of days gone by. I still frequent secondhand stores, but more so to donate. It’s hard to find thrift store items that offer exactly what I’m looking for, now that I’m so demanding of new garments. This is still a great way to shop, and unlike almost any other consumer outlet- completely guilt-free.
- Clothes aside, I’m still secondhand all the way. Cars, bikes, household goods… This year, I bought and sold cars on Gumtree! #winning
- I’m finding ways to use things across categories. Cycling wear can be yoga wear, and functional items can be artistic. I decorate more now with flowers, glass, and instruments. I am so done with knick-knacks, cheap crap that only looks good in a store and does nothing but take up space and dust. Key chains, memorabilia and general kitsch collectibles are the ultimate dislike.
- With owning less, I notice more. Light. Open space. The things happening in my head and heart.
- When the craving to buy new emerges, I pause to consider the source. It’s amazing how strong the urge is to buy. Where is this coming from? What’s the root of this craving, and why? What void needs to be filled, and how can I fill it with something else?
Less is giving me so much more. What I do own is more relevant. When every purchase is evaluated within an inch of its life, these items become more meaningful and develop their own stories.
As we approach the elections (I am so sick of being asked by Australians what’s going to happen if Trump wins. America looks like a joke to the outside world, ya’ll.), I have to consider how much of an impact we could have if we treated how we spend as a vote in itself.
Every purchase has implications far beyond what we can see at the point of sale. Every impulse buy is funding or de-funding a myriad of causes – and people. Money is a vote in itself, and that’s at once an empowering and sobering thought.
Live more from intention, and less from habit.