If you’re serious about living a sustainable lifestyle, you will almost certainly have come across the concept of minimalism; a lifestyle in which possessions are bought and kept if they add value and happiness to our life rather than causing suffering and clutter.
I began seriously practicing minimalism when I left the city and moved up to our farm in mid 2014. Ben and I gave away most of our furniture because we bought our country home furnished.
I also sold my winter clothes and corporate wear at a Sunday market before I left because I was moving to a sub-tropical climate where I’d be working for myself and wouldn’t need them.
Everything we owned fit into a Volkswagon van and an A3 Audi sedan.
To this day, I keep a close eye on what comes into our home because I don’t enjoy clutter or cleaning in fact. How I am with stuff is a byproduct of growing up with a father who has a hoarding problem.
Streamlining my life is crucial to my headspace. I honestly can’t think or even work when there’s too much stuff around. Not just mess, but stuff.
How minimalists define minimalism
People who ascribe to minimalism all have lives that look different.
That’s because a possession that adds value to one person’s life may add no benefit or cause grief to another. For example, someone may own a car because it’s necessary to how they live, whereas someone else may not own a car because it’s not essential to how they live.
Here are what some experts had to say about minimalism:
“… simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.”
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists define minimalism as:
“… a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
And here’s Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle‘s definition:
“What minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.”
The horrifying stats
Now I recently read in an LA Times article that an average American household contains 300,000 household items.
300,000! My goodness! I can’t believe it and I am still in shock. This number seems so unrealistically high, and yet… I don’t doubt it’s the truth.
So because of this one unbelievable statistic, I’ve decided to do a little experiment.
Over the coming months, I will count how many items I find in each room of my house add them all up and report my findings on this blog and in my weekly email newsletters.
This is an experiment my partner thinks is crazy for the mere scale of the task.
Yes it is crazy, but I need to do this to see how a childless couple who care about sustainability (well I do, he’s just coming along for the ride LOL!) stack up against the American average.
So what will be involved? Read on…
The items I will include in my count
Each week I will focus on counting the items in a particular room of the house. This week I will concentrate on the bathroom.
I will include all household items, even go to the trouble of counting individual sheets of printing paper, cotton buds and paper clips.
Items I won’t include
What I won’t include in this experiment are things like permanent household fixtures such as bath tub, cabinets, toilet and kitchen sinks.
I also won’t include what’s in our sheds or nursery because I live on a farm and we own things that most people don’t; things like ride-on mowers, ex-demolition site materials, and just-in-case-machinery-breaks-down nuts, bolts and equipment.
The focus of this experiment is household items only.
Want to join in on this minimalist challenge?
If you’re curious to know how much stuff you own and would like to join in on this challenge, just use the hashtag #lifeoverstuff on social media and I’ll come and find you!
I like to think I live a highly-curated life but this exercise will put my minimalist values to the test.
Wish me luck and check back at a later stage for my first week’s findings.
Do you practice minimalism? How has it benefited your life? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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