I’ve learned that minimalism isn’t about what you own, it’s about why you own it.
It’s something we see everywhere thanks to social media. Perfect houses and beautiful possessions. Simple yet sophisticated aesthetic. I have spent so many hours on Pinterest looking at these gorgeous staged photos of a “minimalist” home. It’s impossible not to feel a twinge of envy. It’s made me think : someday, when I have more money, I’ll be able to buy those beautiful things. But is that really what being minimal is about?
Is it really minimal to replace everything you own with more aesthetically pleasing possessions? Even if they are more sustainable versions?? I have so much passion for being sustainable and contributing less to waste…. but I lack the funds to buy the trendiest replacements.
As I’ve gone through everything we own and use in our own home I’ve really come to see how much we have. And while yes, some things are better replaced with a more sustainable version, many of the things we use are fine the way they are. Remember back in the 90’s (and maybe 80’s,too) when all we heard was “Reduce Reuse Recycle”? Somehow as the years have gone by it’s become more about trends and consumerism. The first step is supposed to be “reduce”. That is becoming more of my focus.
What reducing looks like
For me it is really about assessing what I already have. Getting creative with the functions. It’s so tempting, especially with online shopping, to just buy whatever we want on a whim. And it’s easily justified by looking at it as an eco friendly alternative to something we already have. But anytime we purchase something- we create waste. In one way or another. I absolutely believe reducing our consumption should be the main focus in becoming more minimalist.
I was inspired one day to make an experimental soap. I wanted to try piping roses for the top. Now I’m order to pipe something on top I needed a loaf type mold. My usual creamer container (at least the way I’ve always used it) wouldn’t work because the top of each bar wouldn’t be exposed in the mold. It would have been incredibly easy to hop on the internet and order a loaf mold. But I’m so glad I got creative and thought of a way to make what I already had work. I took the cream container (the same I always use) cut one side and the top off, butted up another cream container to the cut off end and taped in place. It cost me nothing. It’s not the prettiest set up…. however, it worked perfectly for what I was making!
How I “make do”
When I first started using Pinterest, almost everything I saw was DIY projects. How to use what you had to make something else. It was so inspiring! Now it seems like my feed is mostly products to buy. And that makes me so sad! So many days I’m inspired to create something in my home and I don’t have the exact items. I love to be able to turn something that’s not being used into something amazing. One of the projects I took on was actually one of the simplest. I wanted a bed skirt for our bed, and didn’t have one. Bedskirts are pretty much available at any Walmart. It’s not like they’re difficult to find ? But I wanted to create a “farmhouse” feel while at the same time not go out and buy anything. Using some scraps of dropcloth I had leftover from another project I got the look I was going for! All I did was cut the strips into the right width and length and tuck them under the mattress.
Honestly, sometimes the hardest part about being intentional is telling yourself no. No, we don’t need to buy this or that. Make do or go without. It’s a hard lesson, but one I think is important to learn. Everything is so easy now- click of a button. When we have to really think about purchases and be intentional with our choices we really take a step back. What is necessary? What’s just an impulse?
Simple ways to reuse
One of my favorite ways to reduce waste is to reuse everything! I wash out ziploc bags to reuse. I cut up my husbands ripped and torn shirts to use as cleaning rags. One of the things I’ve recently begun reusing is the little ads we get in the mail. Seems weird, but it works. My three year old is fascinated by scissors, so I’ve made her a cutting station on our dining room table. She has a tray, her little scissors, and any mailed ads and used coloring books. She gets to practice cutting to her hearts content (which is sometimes hours ?) and those papers which will be recycled anyway get to have a second life. I mean, it’s not a great life if you’re the paper… but it is what it is. Haha
Creating a calm space
According to the World Economic Forum- 275 million people worldwide suffer from an anxiety disorder. I am one of them. Having a lot of clutter in my life can really make that harder to deal with. I wanted to be sure to mention this, because I do love the minimalist aesthetic. Creating spaces in my own home that stay tidy and simple gives me some calm in my otherwise chaotic life. I really try to keep things simple and only use what’s necessary. But I won’t do that at the expense of having to repurchase things when I need them. There needs to be a balance and I really think that’s where being intentional in your life comes into play. If you can take a look at the things you buy and the things you use, really look at them, you can make a difference in your own life and ultimately in the world.