Exploring Minimalism

Less is more.

Shopping was something of a pastime for me. When I was living in Japan, everything was in close proximity to each other because cities are built around trains. After school or work, I’d stop by the shopping district to window shop before heading home. Ten years of my life, represented by a stockpile of clothing in which some rarely saw the light of day. I realized that I had a problem, so I developed strategies to limit spending. For example, I only brought a certain amount of cash or I’d spend long hours in stores to delay buying anything. Both strategies worked pretty well but I never realized the real impact of accumulating things until recently.

I moved to the U.S. in December 2013. This forced me to bring only a fraction of my wardrobe. My collection of dresses shrunk from 30 to 10. I brought a handful of shoes and 4 bags. Unlike in Japan, shopping malls are farther away, and because I don’t drive, I can’t go whenever I wanted to go. This was a good thing because I shopped for clothes less. BUT, I compensated by shopping for other things. Soon enough my collection of things started to grow. When I worked at an arts and crafts store, I’ve accumulated things I bought from there: fabrics, supplies and sewing patterns.

Recently, I have come across the video “the Story of Stuff“. It was a little talk in school that I participated in for extra credit (yay!). I was shocked to learn how consumerism is potentially destroying our environment and creating unhappiness to others around the world. I felt guilty, and a little hopeless. Black Friday was just around the corner at that time. Although I have never been to a Black Friday sale before, I was tempted by the large amount of deals and coupons that came with the Sunday morning paper. I am guilty of clipping coupons I found on the paper and online. I did go shopping the days following Black Friday, because the deals were just too good to resist. Although in my defense, I shopped for things that were essential at the time and the items I bought weren’t even for myself. Regardless, I fell into the sale trap.

A little moment of weakness didn’t let me down. In fact, it made me more determined to lead a minimalistic lifestyle. As I was researching the Internet for tips and advice, I came across the Minimalists and the KonMari method. The Minimalists is a blog run by two friends from Ohio. They have essays which include tips, advice and concepts that paved the path towards minimalism for me. The KonMari method is developed by Marie Kondo, a cleaning consultant based in Tokyo. Her book,  “the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“, truly is life-changing.

Both of these sources have helped me develop a clear idea of what I hope to achieve through a minimal lifestyle.

  1. By spending less on things, I can save money to invest in experience.
  2. Less items means less decisions to make, which will hopefully give me more time to spend on living my life.
  3. Decluttering will help me discover what I like and it will help me cherish more the things that make me happy.
  4. I will feel good both physically and emotionally to come home to a clean, organized and simplified home.
  5. I hope to contribute in improving the environment by consuming less, donating often and recycling more.
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