Transitioning to Minimalism

By C-A Moss 

In my quest to extend my vegan compassion to other areas of my consumerism, I’ve circled back to minimalism, which for many years, played a prominent role in my belief structure.

Researching for this article, I found an abundance of blog entries and youtube videos of people identifying as minimalist in various forms. Ending excessive consumption. Rejecting capitalism. Life editing. Zero-waste lifestyle. Decluttering. Anti-materialism. Living deliberately. Spartanism. Deattachment. Thriving with less. Living within your needs.

I’ve experienced many challenges and fails over these first eight months of the Ethical Closet Project []. I’ve accepted that our culture sets us up to fail but I’m still determined to find a loophole in the system that doesn’t include voluntary poverty. Consuming even less, and only what is essential, may be the path to greatly reducing my participation in the exploitation that exists within the capitalist system.

My childhood heros – Uncle Traveling Matt from Fraggle Rock, Henri David Thoreau and Alby Mangels – owned very little to tether them to one particular spot on the earth. I grew up in an impoverished and unstable household where I observed the adults react to scarcity with hoarding behavior and a miserly, self-entitled, approach of us vs. them. Just as the capitalists intended, the peasants clung to fear.

Though I imprinted on the concept of minimalism at a very young age, like most great themes of one’s life, it didn’t resonate until college. At that time, I began encountering people whom self-identified as minimalists. The first time I went to my geology lab partner’s apartment I was saddened by his lack of possessions to navigate around. With a Western mindset, I was conditioned to be consumerist and to believe that the accumulation of things is the definition of success.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

Just yesterday, I was passing one of my favorite co-ops and felt the urge to go in. There was nothing I needed inside. Instead of going in, I had an honest conversation with myself. I discovered that what draws me in, most of the time, is the pleasure I feel from the aesthetics of the space. Once inside, I feel intensely awkward if I don’t make a purchase so I buy things I don’t need or necessarily want to enable myself to experience the earthy-natural decor.

Identifying why I mindlessly shop empowered me to move past the store feeling satisfied in my new found clarity and ready to defeat the next impulsive spending urge.

“To take more than you need, means to take from someone else”. - Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz

The Purification Ceremony

Next year we plan to move from our 400 sq. ft. apartment into a freestanding 450 sq. ft. house to officially join thetiny-house-movement. I want to ensure that this increase in square footage doesn’t result in an increase in stuff.

I’ve spent the past 4 consecutive weekends dredging through our possessions and using the local car-share to transport them to the various locations around town where they will find a new life.

During this cleanse I’ve donated several thousand dollars’ worth of possessions. Most items looked and functioned as if they were brand new which shows how little I used them. Further, most were in storage under the bed, in cupboards or in closets.

These purchases were a response to feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated, lost, rejected or stuck. The fix was always temporary and within a few days (more often hours) I was back to feeling unempowered again.

At first there was some sentiment and emotional difficulty particularly when I was saying goodbye to three, of five, boxes of our holiday decorations. I allowed myself to take a moment to mourn the items I was parting with as a way to ensure my sustained success with minimalism.

After dragging three van loads of possessions down all of the stairs, drenched in sweat, on multiple gorgeous spring mornings and responding to questions from neighbors asking me where I was moving to, I got over it. I quickly connected with the freedom of only owning what I truly need and use. As I drove away from my last stop that day and the van was empty, I felt so free. I found myself focused on two thoughts.

What is purged makes way for new life to appear.

To step beyond your comfort zone is a step toward your authentic self. 

 “There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

- Nigel Marsh


Popular posts from this blog

The Misinformation Crisis

13 Biggest Environmental Problems Of 2022

Corporate greenwashing