My husband will laugh when he reads this. I’m not naturally a minimalist and by no means have I become one. As with all things, I’m a work in progress. But I aspire to one day arrive at a place where I live with only what I need and love, nothing more.
My husband is much better at minimalism than I am; I credit his Japanese heritage, and the fact that he knows what he likes and sticks to it. I am not so simple. No matter how hard I try, or how often I clean, it has become a constant battle, to tame the clutter.
Something had to change.
In so many ways, our recent move was so good for us. One benefit of changing homes was the very process of emptying, forcing me to look at every item we had acquired and determined whether it was something we needed or loved.
While the process was difficult, it was also incredibly liberating.
To release the burden of carrying around anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or bring us joy. It was a weight lifted from my shoulders, bringing breathing room to our home and lives.
I’m learning to live with less, in order to appreciate things more. By evaluating if an item is something that I truly need in my home and my life, I am not only simplifying the clutter but also simplifying the chaos.
Some days I still lose items and find myself frantically shifting through the piles or drawers, desperately seeking what is lost while I’m running out of the house, late. But pairing down on my things means that I have a better sense of what we own, where it is kept and how I can better use it.
It has also been a great way to confront my consumerism addiction.
For me, fast fashion has been the biggest contributor to my consumerism addiction, resulting in the cluttered chaos of my life. If I’m honest, and vulnerable, I always felt the need to “keep up” with the latest seasonal trends because of my deep rooted fear of being left behind.
This resulted in a personal style that was not personal.
Every few months, I would rush to my closest shopping mall and buy whatever was the latest trend. The problem with this, among many, was that while I may have the hottest item sitting in my wardrobe, I had nothing to match it with. This only resulted in more shopping trips, more money spent and more clutter in my house.
Whenever a new season was announced, I repeated the process.
It was not joyful or sustainable.
This cycle of consumerism addiction and fast fashion was not only enslaving me and my home, it was also socially and environmentally irresponsible – enslaving others because of my addiction.
Inhumane working conditions, toxic environmental damage and human trafficking were all a result of my addiction. Our gorgeous green earth and the beautiful people that inhabit it were suffering as a result.
I had to ask myself, was that trendy item or blow out sale really worth the devastation?
Now that I am much more aware, it take steps towards minimalism on a daily basis. I’ve learned that living with less and being socially responsible go hand-in-hand.
I care not only about the quality of the products I purchase, but also of the quality of life for those who made them.
Living with less certainly isn’t easy but it has overwhelmingly been worthwhile. And I highly recommend this lifestyle shift for anyone who wants more freedom in their lives.
Here’s some tips to get you started:
- Begin by purging everything you don’t use on a regular basis.
- Let’s be honest, most of us use the same things on a daily rotation and we all have our favourite articles of clothing that we reach for first. If it lives at the back of your closet, bottom of your cupboard, or in your junk drawer, it needs to go. Recycle whatever you can and bring to the nearest thrift store anything that can be reused and re-loved by someone else.
- Keep your closet classic.
- Try to avoid “seasonal” or “trendy” shopping. Buy things that all fit the same aesthetic so that it can all be interchanged and worn together. Layers are a great way to make this happen. Remember there are only 7 days in a week so try to consider how often you will actually wear an item. I also remind myself that I only need one winter jacket plus one or two pairs of boots.
- Shop for quality rather than quantity.
- By becoming a socially conscious shopper, I find myself supporting more local shops, small shops, fair trade shops and artisan makers. It’s important to also note that by rejecting the fast fashion marketing and manufacturing practices of major, mass-produced retailers, you will not only be receiving a higher quality product but you are receiving something that you can be proud of. These small businesses are often family-run operations which means that an artisan has likely poured their heart and soul into making what you now hold in your hand or wear on your back. This creates an all around better experience: better made products that are better for our environment and better for the families that we support.
- Plus by investing our money into buying better, we will likely place higher value on what we own, take better care of it and spend less overall. We may pay more but also we get more, for both us, the earth and the makers behind our purchases.
Over the coming months, and especially leading into the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more of my minimalism tips as I walk deeper into this journey of living with only what I need.
I hope you will join me and together we can find a better way for us all.
All photos by Shaunielle Ross.
Also Fallow is participating in the upcoming Fall for Local Pop Up in North Vancouver on October 22. Details at the link above if you would like to check it out.