My earliest exposure to the concept of minimalism was the minimal art on Instagram and minimalism room decor videos on YouTube, which I used to shamelessly watch over and over again. Back then, minimalism to me was just a term given to a certain type of art or design. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college, when I first stumbled upon the documentary ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things’, that I was introduced to minimalism as a way of life. I watched the trailer and realized how weird it was that for the past two years I’d been living a lifestyle that actually had a name. On top of that, it was being promoted and popularized by two very successful ex-business men that call themselves The Minimalists.
Minimalism is essentially a lifestyle that focuses on letting go of things that cause stress, restraint on freedom and happiness, drainage of emotional energy and the like. It focuses on saving our time and energy for quality things that really matter and bring us long-term happiness. Living on less through minimalism applies to every aspect of an individual’s life, from giving up materialistic things that we no longer use, to better management of finances as well as letting go of relationships that bring us more worry than happiness.
The first step I ever took toward minimalism was a year after I moved into a new room back home. Like my mom, I had the habit of collecting random and often useless things simply because I ‘couldn’t throw them out’ or because ‘they might be useful someday.’ I also spent an unhealthy amount of money on anything I found that was unusually cheap just because ‘hey, you never know when they’ll be this cheap again!’ But as I entered my junior year in high school, I decided to make major changes to my life. As I battled through anxiety issues and constant dispiritedness, I reevaluated the people I surrounded myself with. I let go of all the stressful and overly demanding relationships and made sure to keep the people worth my while, made me happy, and reciprocated my affection. I have to say it felt great. Towards the end of that journey, I realized that the New Year was right around the corner. As it had been my habit for the last 3 years, it was time for me to adopt another resolution that would ensure that I did my part in protecting the environment. It was then that I made a decision to ‘live on less’ to not only reduce personal consumption and exploitation of resources but also help the betterment of my mental health.
Minimalism has, by far, been the biggest step I’ve taken towards living a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly life. As a minimalist, I not only use less and thus leave behind a smaller environmental impact, but this lifestyle also allows me to produce less waste and value quality goods. Lowering my overall consumption has meant that I refrain from purchasing anything I don’t absolutely need. In my experience, this has helped me save money for quality necessities that will last longer.
Although the lifestyle is flexible in its definition depending on the person that adopts it, it is primarily about refraining from indulgence and use of more than is necessary for our sustenance and happiness. Many of the environmentalists I follow argue that the biggest environmental issue that we face today is the overconsumption of resources. Overconsumption leads to increasing exploitation of natural resources, destruction of natural habitats, production of hazardous waste, and air and water pollution. From my experience living a minimalist lifestyle as an average college student, I have to say the minimalist lifestyle is an excellent way to combat this very issue, as well as many others.
Written by Sowmiya Raju