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?
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.