Starting my Minimalism Journey
Jetsam. Noun. Goods thrown overboard to lighten a ship in danger of sinking.
Where do you start when you decide to minimalise your lifestyle? I've consumed enough articles and TED talks to convince myself it would make me happier to remove excess clutter from my life. It's something my fiancé has always been naturally good at, although I never realised it until I decided to focus on how much I value our things. When I first moved in I scoffed at the 'typical' male attribute of having such a blank living space - two feeble cushions, no rugs, no fancy mugs or elaborate fruit bowls. A few of my additions I stand by - mainly plants, books and paint on the walls - but I realised that what I thought of as bare and unexciting, was actually beautifully clutter-free. Almost three years after I moved in, I've found myself removing most of the crap I had brought with me and donating it all the charity shop.
My minimalist journey has had a little kick start. We are currently in the process of selling our flat and moving into a house, and for one reason or another the paperwork has caused logistical delays. We've been in limbo for weeks now, waiting for this registration to complete or this survey to pass, and we needed something to curb our insanity. In a stroke of universal magic, this was when I started learning about minimalism and how to live more with less. To help us feel like we were actually moving house, we decided to start packing up, but we also decided to make use of such a rare opportunity to go through everything we owned - and get rid of everything that didn't bring value to our lives. I think the Japanese author Marie Kondo calls it 'sparking joy' - if an item doesn't spark joy in your life, and it isn't something you literally use on a daily basis, then there might not be a place for it in your home.
I'm not actually too bad with hoarding - I've always hated living in a clogged space, and I'm not one to keep things 'just in case'. Having said that, I've spent the last couple of weeks realising what my exact clutter vices are - primarily objects of nostalgia. I'm not talking gig tickets or movie stubs, but boxes of notebooks, old uni essays, soft toys - everything that reminds me of the loveliest moments of my life so far.
Minimalism is not about suffering or punishing yourself - if you truly love something, then you should keep it - but it is about being brutally honest about your material values. Fuelled on coffee and vegan banana bread, I took the plunge on a Monday morning and began a fortnight of ruthless obliteration of my possessions. I sorted through every cupboard, every drawer, every corner under the bed - even the junk cupboard with its mountain of coats and miscellaneous cables. At last, with the zillionth episodes of Friends playing in the background, I was finally finished - and I felt like a new person! Yes, the flat was a bit stark, but then I wasn't worried about how it looked because we'd be moving soon.
Some of the items we threw away/donated to charity:
- An entire tapas set, unused
- My old dolls' house, complete with the Sugar Puff aliens I used as dolls
- My collection of 1,000 Pokémon cards, now on eBay
- Two old laptops that won't turn on
- Lord of the Rings extended edition DVDs (this was extremely difficult, until I realised we didn't have any kind of DVD player/disc drive and we could just watch them all online)
- Dave's dodgy old air rifle
- £7.26 in non-European currency
- A throw I bought in India that's too sequin-spangled for comfort
- The coffee table
Now that I've cleared out the majority of our possessions, I feel like our journey into a happier, less stressful life has begun! But it is only the beginning. Next, I'm going to be sorting through our food cupboards and cooking up some weird dishes to use up leftover ingredients, before really changing the way I think about what we buy. I love experimenting, but I'm determined to find a way of doing it without having half-opened packets of tricolour quinoa spilling over everything.
I'm also going to be completely revamping my wardrobe. Over the last year I've been moving away from fast fashion and trying to find a more ethical way to buy clothes. I also went vegan at the beginning of the year and, as a consequence, I've lost a healthy amount of weight that means most of my old clothes no longer fit me very well. Instead of spending less money on cheap, badly made clothes, I'm getting rid of almost every item in my wardrobe and starting from scratch with a capsule wardrobe. This means having a small collection of ethically sourced items that suit my body and style, and that all match each other so I don't have to waste precious life hours deciding what to wear. I've already started building this collection and I'll be updating on it soon!
The most important thing about minimalising is changing my mindset to buy less stuff. I'm not as bad as some, but even I can be tempted to 'treat myself' to things I don't need and will not make my life better. Not only does consuming less stuff reduce our impact on the planet, it also theoretically means you can live with less money because you have fewer expenditures. I'll continue updating my journal with my minimalism journey as I go, but in the meantime here are a few online resources that have inspired me to to live more with less: