How do minimalists contribute to the economy

Minimalism: 5 common mistakes and misunderstandings

Minimalism May 06, 2018

The one There is no such thing as minimalism - everyone interprets it differently. Nevertheless, in my opinion there are a few misunderstandings and mistakes that should be avoided with regard to the minimalist way of life.

First of all, my personal interpretation of minimalism: For me, living minimalistically means not looking for abundance and fulfillment in consumption, but in an uncomplicated, conscious life without unnecessary ballast. According to the motto of industrial designer Dieter Rams: Less but better.

Minimalism Mistake 1: Going by the Definition of Others

Sure there is an official definition of minimalism, I honestly haven't looked it up. But how the lifestyle is interpreted is a highly individual matter. Therefore one should be careful - and it is sometimes not so easy for me - not to commit oneself to the interpretation of other minimalists and to try to emulate them, because only then is one a "good", a "real" minimalist.

In Facebook groups on minimalism, questions like: "Have a car: minimalist or not?" Or "Is a smartphone minimalist?" There is no general answer to that, because for some people a car or smartphone is minimalist because they (for him) are very useful. For another, these things are not minimalist because they may be unconsciously "consumed" or represent unnecessary ballast. Whether that is the case or not, everyone can only know for themselves.

Hence my plea: Everyone can and should only act according to their own needs when it comes to deciding for or against consuming certain things.

Minimalism Mistake 2: Counting possessions and comparing yourself to other minimalists

This mistake is strongly related to the first one, because here, too, one allows oneself to be determined by someone else's definition. Is that how you feel too? The prototype for a minimalist is imagined as a person with extremely few things. According to the motto: the less, the better. That means, XY, who only has 100 things, is a better minimalist than AB, who has 400 things. “The less, the better” is, in my opinion, not the measure of all things, but rather “The less unnecessary ballast, the better”. And everyone decides what is unnecessary.

Incidentally, I myself hesitate to call myself a minimalist in everyday life, but mostly paraphrase it. I am afraid of the reaction if I am compared to the prototype described above. “Oh, you don't have that few things!” Nevertheless, I AM a minimalist. I have dedicated myself to my interpretation of this lifestyle. As a result, I may have fewer and fewer things over time - or maybe not! That does not matter.

Minimalism mistake 3: Replacing functional things with "minimalist" things

“My” minimalism also has a lot to do with sustainability and less waste. And so I see it as a mistake to have to buy things first in order to be able to be minimalist. Rather, that is a contradiction!

I often read questions on social media like: “I want to reduce plastic and therefore replace my current Tupperware jars with ones made of glass.” Using less plastic is a great approach! But please not once it is associated with more waste and more consumption. Using objects until they reach their natural end is the healthiest thing that can be done for the environment. Of course, that doesn't mean that things can't be mucked out before their end of life (to get rid of the excess of unnecessary stuff). But then just buy the same stuff in a newer, fresher (even if I made it plastic-free) variant - that's neither less waste nor minimalist.

This also includes the fact that many things are now advertised as minimalist in order to encourage minimalists to consume. Please don't fall for it. You can't buy minimalism, you can only act accordingly.

Minimalism Mistake 4: "Minimalism Badges the Economy"

This is less of a trap or a mistake than a mistake that I keep encountering. Yes, conscious consumption certainly harms many of the big players in our economy, namely those who focus on fast and less sustainable consumption. Again, minimalism promotes those industries that are more sustainable. Small example:

  • Every year I can buy a pair of cheap shoes from H&M and Zara, which I muck out after a few times.
  • Or I buy a pair of timelessly beautiful, high-quality and sometimes expensive shoes that will stay with me for many years and which I regularly have the shoemaker resole.

In both cases I support the economy and am an active participant in the system (minimalists are not to be equated with dropouts). Rather, it boils down to the question Which I support economic segments and structures with my purchasing power.

Personally, I have absolutely no interest in certain companies making even more profit at the expense of the environment and people. Costs that we all end up having to pay one way or another.

Minimalism mistake 5: "Because I muck out huge amounts all the time, I'm a minimalist"

I went into the topic of mucking out in detail in my last blog article, but only mentioned this aspect in passing: Mucking out doesn't make you a minimalist. It is at most the first step towards it. Constantly getting rid of unnecessary things to a large extent is more of a sign that you are not living minimalistically. The big, first mucking out at the beginning of 2017 was the starting shot for a minimalist life for me. After that, in my opinion, a rethink should take place and unnecessary things that are mucked out again after a short time should be avoided.

This doesn't mean that minimalists do NOT clean up regularly. I notice it in myself: I keep finding that certain things that I thought I couldn't do without months ago are not so important after all. But I try not to make the same mistakes over and over again and to give in to impulse buying.

What misunderstandings and errors do you encounter when it comes to minimalism? Feel free to let me know and drop me a line in the comments below.

See you soon

Your Silke

Live lightly. Consume mindfully.

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