minimalism

The mystery of Enough – How many things are too many?

Before I started decluttering my belongings I went or a weeks long marathon of every single minimalism/zero waste video I could find on the Internet. I saw people declutter their closets, their apartments over and over. It was everything from 50 things I no longer buy, to 30 things you can get rid of in 2019, to 30 clothing items I left in my wardrobe (or something along those lines).

In between, there was a conversation of how many things you can own to call yourself a minimalist, if there are items you’re allowed to own or where’s the line you can’t cross or your membership is revoked. In short, I quickly learned that there are rules to when you’re allowed to call yourself a minimalist but they change almost daily and nobody tells you what those changes are until it’s too late.

Can you call it “decluttering” if you buy a replacement item soon after? How often should I go through my stuff and throw things away? How much plastic am I allowed to keep in my house? Should I throw it all out and replace it with more sustainable option before I claim to be low impact / zero waste? There were moments in my viewing marathon when I was super confused when I started analyzing what the Internet was telling me.

To be perfectly honest I would never move from YouTube porn to action if it wasn’t for two things: Marie Kondo and this TEDx Talk by Ted Cavenaugh:

I decided not to focus on the things I’m discarding (once I’ve decided I had too many things in the first place), but instead I chose to focus on the items I would be keeping. Marie Kondo was the big influencer here, because she made me realize that this simple mind shift changes everything. Thanks to her I started thinking not in the way of throwing things out and creating waste, but instead in the terms of having “enough”.

Once I’m done decluttering, reusing and removing the things I no longer need out of my apartment and out of my life, I will ask myself if what I have is enough. And while it might feel weird at the beginning to ask myself if I have enough clothes and enough books and enough everything else, I’m confident I will get to a point where the question will be an easy one.

It’s already an easy question as I’m researching new apartments (to figure out how big of a down payment I will be needing), I’m asking myself how big of an apartment I will need. I have no doubt I would qualify for a mortgage big enough to cover a three bedroom apartment, or something extravagant like that… The thing is, however, I don’t really need an apartment that big. The only reason why I need a two room apartment is because I live with my mom. If she wasn’t a factor in my choice a one bedroom apartment would totally be enough.

Two pairs of office-appropriate pants are enough for me: I go to work in black office pants four days a week and in jeans on Casual Fridays. The only reason why I need the second pair of office pants is in case the first one rips and I need immediate backup. I don’t need to buy pants (office or otherwise) more often than once a year unless my weight fluctuates drastically. Same goes for the majority of my office wardrobe. There are only so many variations of business outfits I can do in a week. I don’t need more than that. Sure, there are variations for different seasons, but honestly… I’ve worked at the same corporation for the last two years and I’ve never had a problem doing the same outfits every week. Sometimes, I do laundry on the weekend and basically take the clothes off the drying rack every day and they don’t have the time to get back in the closet. Why? Because the amount of clothes I have is enough for me.

I think if we all embrace the idea of “enough”, we might all reach a new level of minimalism that is much more sustainable and produces little to no waste. And with a firm idea of what’s enough for you, we can focus even more on achieving the circular economy that can help us lessen the environmental impact we have on the planet.

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