How to escape from materialism without going to extremes

Katherine Craig
Feb 10, 2019 · 3 min read

Anemone by Rick Ligthelm licensed under CC by 2.0

In 2014, the,“average U.S. household has 300,000 things,” (LA Times). With new products and items being mass produced every minute, I can only imagine what this number would be today.According to Forbes, “In 1930, the average woman only had 36 pieces of clothes in her closet. Today, the average consumer has 120 items of clothing, but 80% go unworn.” With this and the previous statistic in mind, it is easy to see we as a country have created a large problem. So, why do we constantly feel the need to buy new things? Is it because of the ever cliché of keeping up with the Jones’ or are we trying to fill some unfulfilled void in ourselves? Either way, these ideas need to go.

In comes the concept of minimalism. Luckily, minimalism has been recently brought into the light by millennials. Those ages 19–34 are showing the country and the world that we have different beliefs in spending and what is important. However, there has been some negative press when it comes to the extremist with some millennials living with only 100 items or less. While I whole-heartedly believe in one’s rights to live how they choose with the number of items they wish, I believe the world will benefit more by encouraging any form of retreat from consumerism rather than going cold turkey.

How to Start

So how can someone wishing to declutter their lives start? First, read! Do your research on the topic of minimalism, what it stands for, and what you believe it means to you. The most important thing is that you find your personal connection as to why you wish to make the change, whether it be for financial, spiritual, or aesthetic reasons. There is an excellent amount of literature out there on minimalism, many of which you can find for free. There are also plenty of podcasts and YouTube channels completely dedicated to the topic and are great for beginners.

Once you’ve discovered your why, you can implement minimalism into your everyday life. It is best to start slow. Look at the items in your home. Either visualize or physically take your items out and think about their value. Do you need them? Are they broken or old? Are they duplicates? Do you even like them? Apply this to everything you own and slowly get rid of the items that do no longer work for you. You can either go from room to room or by type of item (personal care, clothes, books, sentimental items, paper work etc.) As time goes on and you have made your initial cut and find you need to purchase something as you have used yours all up, then you can look into buying a replacement of good quality.

What is great about making the lifestyle change to minimalism, is it opens the door to being mindful about other aspects of your life. With the physical lift of items, you are able to break free from consumerism and put your efforts into more pleasurable experiences rather than saving up just to spend it on unnecessary expenses.

Written by

Communications student at Arizona State Univesity.

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