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Minimalism Vs Self-sufficiency

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It’s probably been about two years since I stumbled across the minimalist movement. It first began with a Times article on the 25 Best Blogs of 2009 which featured Zen Habits. From there I was hooked. I consumed every minimalist blog I could find: Becoming Minimalist, Miss Minimalist, The Everyday Minimalist, Exile Lifestyle, Castles in the Air, Mnmlist, Minimal Student, Rowdy Kittens, and many more that have come and gone.

I dreamed of living in a minimalist studio apartment

Minimalist Apartment

or minimalist tiny home

of living in a treehouse in the wilderness

or living out of a backpack like Colin Wright & Nina Yau.

The idea of having few possessions and a million possibilities appealed to me. And the benefits of minimalism? Reducing my consumerism, reducing my impact on the world, reducing my household responsibilities (cleaning, cooking, shopping), releasing my time for worthwhile activities (like yoga & writing & travelling). And yet, by relinquishing my possessions I found that I became more and more reliant on the world around me. Giving away baking trays would mean buying store bought biscuits & cupcakes & breads. Giving away my sewing machine would mean not being able to mend unravelling seams or make my own clothes. Giving away baby items meant I would have to buy them all again when we have another baby. Minimalists also seemed to travel a lot, by air, and we all know how much fuel and energy flights require. These things didn’t make sense to me. They seemed wasteful & expensive. I also needed to shop more often as I didn’t have a spare tube of toothpaste, or packet of rice. With little forethought about meals there were often nights eating takeaway or dashing to the shops for missing ingredients.

And then I turned to simple living sites…

Women baking bread, knitting dishcloths and tending their gardens. Men planting seedlings, making compost, and building retaining walls. Their days were filled with day-to-day responsibilities. And their homes stocked with supplies and the necessary tools. But they didn’t need to shop every day as their pantries were stocked with a months worth of food. They bought in bulk which did three things: reduced the time they spent travelling to and from the shops, reduced the unit cost of items and reduced the amount of packaging products required. These simple living enthusiasts were working towards similar goals as minimalists but in completely different ways.

Both minimalists and homesteaders write about reducing debt, reducing consumption, caring for the environment & their communities, appreciating the moment and the wonder of everyday life. Those are high ideals. Commendable goals. And truly, truly worthwhile endeavours.


5 responses »

  1. Ive dreamed of living in a minimalist cabin in the woods too – but by myself. Usually I have this dream during the PMS days. 🙂

  2. I agree with the above comment! I need to many things to be minimalist though. I have 3 types of antacids alone and I like pillows…

  3. I love my clutter. I try to live frugally and, in my world that does mean buying in bulk, growing a garden, and making things by hand. Our home is chock-a-block full of food, gardening tools (and, right now, seedlings), arts and crafts materials, and sewing and knitting projects. Because we choose to have a small home in order to reduce our costs, all this activity inevitably leads to clutter. Minimalist it ain’t, but it works for us.

    • oh, this sounds lovely Beth! It also sounds like where our home is at too. With a toddler running around there are always things scattered everywhere. But, rather than being a burden, everything has a purpose, items are needed and contribute to our life. I guess the difference between true clutter and a full home is whether the items we fill our lives with help or hinder.


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