By its definition, a minimalist lifestyle is a living approach with only the things we need. It promotes the things we value most and removes everything that distracts us from it. As minimalism became popular in home design and architecture, the portrayal of the whitewashed images makes people attracted to the visually appealing aspects of minimalism.
It then started to commodify when Marie Kondo emerged and popularised it through the KonMari method. It helps the rise of minimalism, but somehow, some people mistakenly understand the word in the same way with owning a minimum number of things, decluttering here and there, and stuff dominated with white color.
Looking deeper into what the real concept actually stands for, minimalism is a practice to shift a mindset. It offers the opportunity where one can consciously separate the wants and the needs. It pushes the person to view things based on the substance, and not merely the look. It hits you by the reality that your identity has nothing to do with all those fancy or expensive accessories attached to you. Furthermore, minimalism contributes to the economy and environment more than you think.
It opposes fast fashion. While fast fashion offers an affordable version of expensive clothing, it ignores the impact on the environment. According to Business Insider, fashion production contributes to 10% of humanity’s emissions. Minimalism contradicts the view by minimising the value of the trend. It proves that trend is always temporary. What is happening today could be replaced with another new trend tomorrow. Like that floral dress everyone is wearing in summer will be quickly forgotten when the comfortable sweater demanded by so many people becomes the next trend during the next fall season.
It reduces carbon emissions. While some others translate this as contra to traveling activity, minimalism never limits someone to travel. In fact, many minimalist travelers pack every essentials in one backpack. A minimalist mindset doesn’t bother to have to bring many things and more when returning. The basic principle is to use less anywhere, at home, and outside home. Less usage of stuff, less usage of electricity, meaning less trash, less pollution, and less carbon footprint.
It conveys that your money won’t be everlasting. Most people continuously buy things as their buying power remains the same all the time. It neglects the possibility of potential threats that might affect your economic circumstances. With only consuming things that really matter to our life, minimalism teaches people to always anticipate what is coming, including the probability of any event that could affect a person’s economic circumstances.
It shows your happiness should not rely on things. Your newly-bought frying pan makes you excited about cooking the first time, but it doesn’t make you more excited the next time. Or that sense of pride when you’re driving that new car for the first time, which won’t be the same as you’re driving it for the 20th time. It lies in the illusion presented upon the first time you see it, the pride, and the prestige attached to you as the owner of the car. But it decreases gradually every time you use it the next time.
It fosters a sharing economy. Back in the times when we were studying at school, we are so familiar with the concept of borrowing books from the library. Being a member allows you to borrow books in a certain period, and you’ll get charged when you pass the agreed period. Now, minimalism embraces the barter system, not only in books. It fosters the sharing economy, where you can borrow, rent, and own an asset temporarily and return it back when you no longer need it. Until now, the sharing economy has touched many sectors, namely transportation, consumer goods, fashion, and many other things.
Minimalism is more than practicing the “only things that spark joy” mantra. It helps you to stabilise your economic condition, saves the environment a bit better, and expands your views on seeing things.