How to Embrace Minimalism Without Going Rogue in the Woods

When most people think of minimalism, the stories that often come to mind are of people like myself. People who gave up their corporate jobs and 90 percent of their possessions for a more vagrant lifestyle of being glamorously homeless.

Other common examples are men who move to the woods and cut all ties with civilisation, the backpacking hippie with no place to call home, and the early-20-something who lives in a tiny 200 square foot house.

While these are all accurate representations of minimalism, they are also extreme versions. There are far more manageable ways that all of us can obtain a simpler lifestyle.

After all, minimalism is not about doing without. It’s about reinvesting our resources in the things that matter most to us. So here’s how you can do it, too.

Downsize

The larger your home, the more likely you are to buy more furniture, and more gadgets to fill it with. The smaller your living space, the less opportunity you have to fill it with unnecessary odds and ends.

Larger homes can also hold far more things before it begins to feel cramped. Smaller living spaces do not provide this luxury.

Go Digital

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Books, paperwork, photo albums, and old CDs and DVDs take up a lot of space in our homes. Going digital is one way to minimise this.

I keep thousands of books on my tablet and Kindle, watch movies via Netflix, and store most of my pictures in digital format. Thus, they take up space in the cloud, and not in my apartment.

Repair Before you Buy

When done incorrectly, repairing items can actually lead to more junk in your home. Why? Because a lot of people keep old items meaning to repair them, but never actually do. Thus, they end up in boxes piled sky high in the attic and the garage.

Attempt to repair broken items like electronics and even shoes before tossing them out. If you can’t, then don’t pack them up in a box for later. Give it to someone who can fix it, or throw it out.

Resist the Urge to Upgrade

Let’s be honest. Most of the time when we upgrade possessions, it’s not because we need to, but because we want to. The aftermath of this is that we’re stuck with the older devices and furniture, because we have a hard time throwing out perfectly functioning things.

If your possessions already serve all the purposes you need them for, then resist the urge to replace them.

Donate & Sell

If you just can’t resist new purchases or work in an area where getting new stuff is just one of the perks, then rather than let the junk pile up in your home, donate and sell them.

Donating is a great way to give back to the community, while ensuring you get back a little something extra on your taxes. And by selling your old furniture and gadgets, you get more income almost immediately.

Get Out More

15 Alexis Chateau Tristan OBryan Arches National Park Utah

Your home should be a sanctuary from the chaos of everyday life. However, the more time you spend hiding away at home, the more you feel the need to fill it with new things to make it more ‘comfortable’. You start to consider new couches, a bigger TV, or a new gaming console.

The more time you spend away from home — travelling, hiking, or even just going to the gym and work and school — the more comfortable home feels when you return to it. And more importantly, the more it feels as though you have enough.

Develop a Versatile Fashion Sense

One thing that takes up the most space in our homes — even mine — is our clothes. Some people need a different pair of shoes for every outfit based on colour and design. However, the more versatile your fashion sense, the less necessary this is.

Most of my clothes are black, grey, and white, which means virtually anything I wear matches everything else. I can travel with one pair of shoes in my bag and one pair on my feet and never worry.

Keep Household Size Small

 

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If you’re looking to downsize and de-clutter, marriage and kids won’t help much. Husbands have their big boy toys, and kids don’t make very good minimalists either. I certainly didn’t as a child.

Kids need books for school, toys to keep them busy, and are rarely neat and organised. They are also much more susceptible to advertising, and far less willing to part with their belongings.

Additionally, the more pets you own the more stuff you need — bowls, leashes, scratching posts, brushes, shampoo, litter boxes, and the list goes on.

Clear Your Cookies

One of the easiest ways companies suck us into buying their goods and services is through ads on websites, which remind us of all the last purchases we looked at online, and even better offers than what we originally found.

The ads are able to do this based on information in your cookies. Deleting and clearing your cookies deprives websites of the information they need to suggest more ‘stuff’ for you to buy, and helps you get rid of the temptation to spend.

Love Yourself

It may seem like unlikely advice, but the more self-love a person has, the less likely they are to fill their lives with external possessions to make up for a feeling of emptiness and inadequacy.

People often confuse self-love with selfishness and conceit, but they are not the same. Ideally, self-love involves knowing what your inadequacies or faults are and accepting the ones we cannot change, while working to improve all the ones we can.

Conceit only masks the inadequacy — something we all face — often through materialism, and dressing the part of who we want people to think we really are.

Hopefully this helps many readers who despaired about not being able to adopt a minimalist lifestyle as I had done, due to fear or family and job commitments. It’s not as hard as it seems, as long as you make a commitment to start somewhere.

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38 thoughts on “How to Embrace Minimalism Without Going Rogue in the Woods

    1. I know the man but not those books. I have never found those types of books particularly inspiring either though, so I’m with you on that.

      I’m glad you enjoyed these articles and I hope you get started on your journey towards a simpler life. 🙂

  1. Great post. We live in a house that’s 1500 square feet and half of that is our basement which we never go in besides to do laundry. I don’t know what I’d do with a house twice the size (that just screams “more to clean” haha). And I love the part about self-love at the end…we’ve all watched enough episodes of Hoarders to see what happens when the opposite of minimalism occurs and it’s so very tragic. We have a few hoarding houses in our neighborhood where stuff is spilling out now onto the lawns and little resources are available.

    I’ll disagree with getting rid of books though, those are precious and I can’t stand looking at a computer screen, it’s just not the same. 🙂

    There’s also something new to think about when it comes to internet use, streaming, and related online activity. Many think of it as zero-waste, when data centers owned by Google, Apple, and the like are consuming *crazy* amounts of energy. Here in Oregon, they are buying up all kinds of land for server farms and using water once reserved for farmers to keep them cooled, and all over, they are powered by coal energy. And while California residents were required to cut water use by 25%, businesses – including these data centers – were exempted. So just because things are ‘in the cloud’ doesn’t mean we’re truly being minimalist – not until there’s a much, much smaller impact on the planet.

    Here’s a couple good articles..

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/12/there-are-no-clean-clouds/420744/

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10007111583511843695404581067903126039290

    1. Hmm… Google actually uses more green energy than any company in America last I checked. I believe only the Pentagon is second to them, and still uses only half as much alternative energy. I imagine they consume a lot of energy too, though I’m sure neither Google nor the Pentagon uses as much as manufacturing plants that make our cars, clothes, and food.

      As for the books, and generally going digital, electronics consume energy but books chop down trees. When I’m finished with an ebook, I can delete it and add something else. When I’m finished with a hard copy book I cannot re-turn it into a tree. It can take decades and centuries to regrow trees. Also, at the end of it all, I still get my empty apartment. I also enjoy walking around with my entire library at my fingertips. As I said in my Exploring the Green article, no man can support all causes. I suppose we must choose whichever works best with our lifestyle.

      It is tragic when people hoard, especially hoarding animals. Those are the worst cases of all.

      I’m pretty sure I’ll buy a bigger house later in life, but it will likely be as empty as all my other living spaces.

      1. Books only chop down trees if you buy them new… we buy everything used. There’s a long-standing argument between the sustainability of books vs Kindles because of the toxic metals used to make those appliances, and their impact on the people who work in those mines in Africa.

      2. A book’s origin doesn’t disappear because we buy them used. Or I could make the same argument for my Kindle, which I got secondhand from a friend.

        Books all end up in landfills sooner or later, and new editions are printed by manufacturing companies sending even more fumes into the air. With trees gone, there is also less air purification, more soil erosion, and more water pollution.

        But as I said, no one man can support all causes or know everything about all. We can only support what suits our lifestyle.

        For me, I prefer a clutter free home and digital options.

  2. Those are some absolutely wonderful points on minimalism. It’s not always about getting rid of everything you have. That’s not the point. It’s about condensing what you have and realizing you don’t need to fill up your life with things. I especially love that last point about Love Yourself.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad the last point resonated with you. It is very important to work on our internal selves rather than filling our internal needs with external goodies.

  3. Excellent!! such a valid point.. After 3 days in the mountains with no cell, wifi or running water… i did have electricity and a radio.. i found my self dancing around the kitchen or ambling thru the woods for hours taking pictures… such fun!! I felt fulfillment that I had forgotten was there….

    1. Haha. Perhaps not too late, just more difficult. If you have kids and grandkids that means they’re probably out of the house. It’s a great time to set new rules.

  4. Reblogged this on College Mate and commented:

    A lot of college students can benefit from a more minimalist lifestyle. It decreases the clutter and makes organization much easier, while also helping students to save.

    Here are ten ways you can get started without dropping out of school and living in the woods…

  5. Reblogged this on Alexis Chateau and commented:

    A lot of college students can benefit from a more minimalist lifestyle. It decreases the clutter and makes organization much easier, while also helping students to save.

    Here are ten ways you can get started without dropping out of school and living in the woods…

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