I’m taking out a page from Cal Newport’s blog and decided to write a simple manifesto that captures my evolving philosophy on minimalism (click here to read his post on what he dubbed as the “Career Craftsmen Manifesto”).
There’s been ample discussion on the importance of decluttering our mental and physical space, but two topics that are noticeably absent are the ecological and socio-economic benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle. It is as if popular minimalist bloggers are afraid to tackle the more complex, macro-level solutions that minimalist living can solve.
I consider myself a progressive minimalist: someone who adheres to a minimalist lifestyle as a strategy to improve the quality of life of both myself and the larger community. From the various responses I receive from this blog, my former podcast, and the other sites that my writing lives on, I believe there are others that share my mindset.
Progressive minimalists focus on maximizing human well-being within our ecological means through sharing work, consuming less, and spending more time in nature, with our community, and pursuing experiences we find meaningful. Less is not simply more; less is ecologically and financially sustainable.
This philosophy is a work in progress but here are the main tenets so far:
The Progressive Minimalist Manifesto
- A progressive minimalist understands that the rate of our consumption is ecologically unsustainable. They understand that in order to stay under the limits of what’s considered an acceptable rise of global warming (2C above pre-industrial levels), the most effective individual solution is to consume less.
- A progressive minimalist understands that choosing to consume less physical goods actively signals that chasing ephemeral pleasures is not their priority and is counter-intuitive to a meaningful life.
- A progressive minimalist understands that responsible consumption involves being selective when it comes to the products/services that they purchase and/or use. Part of being selective is considering the ethics of the companies and manufacturers that produce and sell these products/services.
- A progressive minimalist calls for a redefinition of work. They acknowledge that non-financially compensated forms of work including child care, volunteering, and so forth, is just as valid and important as work that is rewarded by the private market.
- A progressive minimalist refutes the notion that you have to “hustle” in order to achieve optimal productivity. Instead, productivity is measured by working efficiently and strategically on the few things that matter. How you work is just as important as what you work on.
- A progressive minimalist believes that GDP is an ineffective measurement of human prosperity, quality of work, and quality of actual jobs. They encourage alternative calculations to be used including the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which also takes into account human capital, social capital, and environmental capital.
- A progressive minimalist recognizes that committing their labour towards improving the well-being of society is not only important to individual meaningfulness but to the sustainability of society. This doesn’t mean quit your day job to join an NGO, but rather incorporating pragmatic solutions into your existing life: participating in charity events, becoming a board member of a local charity, or as rudimentary as deciding to compost your food waste.
- A progressive minimalist understands that the core of this philosophy can be watered down to five words: individual responsibility for sustainable prosperity.