Minimalism. We’ve heard about it. It’s the new fad lifestyle; the new fix. Get rid of your stuff and your problems get rid of themselves. It’s like magic, right? So why hasn’t everyone taken a jumpstart on living this way? I’ve discovered four reasons why minimalism unrealistic, and how it can potentially backfire in its living-by-the-law with less. A lot less. Here they are:
1. Possessions are still the center of minimalist life.
What possessions do I own? How many do I own? Can I get rid of even more? What don’t I own that others do? These are all common questions haunting minimalist minds. Materialism vs. minimalism is like a sugar addict vs. a sugar-free zealot. Someone with a sweet tooth is focused on eating as much sugar as possible. Someone who is sugar-free is focused on avoiding sugar as much as possible. “Is there sugar in this?” is the question both individuals constantly ask: sugar is still in the forefront of both minds.
2. Minimalism is not for those who aren’t well-off.
One of the key points of minimalism is getting the ultimate version of every item: the best products of the highest quality with the longest lifecycles. It’s impossible to drop all current possessions and buy completely new ones without money. Wealth also provides cushion to re-purchase items if the minimalist ends up needing them. Those who are not well-off cannot afford to do these things, and in some cases, already live in ‘forced minimalism.’
“We cannot pretend that performative reduction in consumption, or choosing to only consume in certain ways, is not one of the most gratuitous displays of privilege out there, and to frame it as in any way a moral choice is more than a little offensive.”
– Chelsea Fagan
3. Minimalism is environment-dependent.
Locale has a huge impact on minimalism. Living in a small apartment in the city has different materialistic needs than living on a homestead in the country. Even if this home has no animals or gardens, the grounds themselves will require more equipment to maintain and upkeep than a small apartment with no land. The climate experienced in the Northern US is also vastly different from the South, and this affects the materials needed to handle the weather associated with seasonal changes. The same concept applies to the availability of good public transit or needing a vehicle to get places.
4. Minimalism doesn’t address why people buy things.
The biggest issue with minimalism is it lacks concentration on the relationship people have with belongings and doesn’t address the issue of why people buy as many possessions as they do. Minimalism wouldn’t be a lifestyle people would feel they need—a moral and spiritual structure to follow so strictly—if people took the time to understand themselves. Their buying habits, their motivations to buy, their need to build a collection of material possessions, and their relationship with those items.
So…minimalism—what’s the point? Or what should the point be? If it’s really supposed to be about drawing focus away from materialism and shifting this focus onto what it’s supposed be, the real point of minimalism should be intentionalism coupled with simplicity. To live life with purpose and passion. Minimalism should be about dedicating money, time, and attention to the things that bring true joy and fulfillment…not putting focus on how many items we can live without.