Have you read ‘Confessions of a shopaholic’ or watched the movie, maybe? This book is not only entertaining but to me it provided the assurance that I’m not a shopaholic. As someone who started handling shopping since my early teens, I often reflect on my retail habits and wonder if I have crossed into the obsessive shopper zone.
I was brought up in a family that believes in the minimalist approach to life, mostly. One of the first lessons that was imbibed in me is “don’t waste food” and you will not find on my plate more than I can finish. While growing up “buying what you can consume” was the mantra most people lived by. Then came the retail boom and shopping was the next best thing after cricket in India.
Why do I want to talk about this in the middle of a pandemic? 2020 has been a year of many firsts. This year has literally stopped the world in it’s tracks and made us question ourselves “how much do we ACTUALLY need?” A balance of needs and wants.
WHO IS A MINIMALIST:
In simple terms a person/s who do not go beyond their needs and keep their spending to a minimum is a minimalist. A simple lifestyle of many minimums.
If you realize you don’t need a horde of clothes and repeating your outfits or shoes is responsible behaviour, then you might qualify for the term.
A few days back, I came across a documentary on waste management. The presenter climbed a hill of rubbish, consisting of all kinds of items that get discarded, used and even unused. He questioned “how would you feel if I tell you that on an average you produce this quantity of waste on a yearly basis?” I felt bad.
Imagine, if one person can produce that much waste, a big percentage of it not getting recycled, what can a planet full of people produce? At the rate we are going, the ramifications will be huge!
I’m not a minimalist, far from it. Even though having never been a part of the “not-cool-to-repeat-outfits” movement, I too have been guilty of consumerism at times. Clothes still waiting to be worn, shoes never broken into. Episodes of impulsive buying are the major contributors to that hill of rubbish. I still believe in Gap Kids but now with some self-restraint.
Some might mock a minimalist as being a miser, but there is a huge difference between the two. A person who does not believe in wastage is not a miser.
WHERE TO START:
It’s the very first step. If you have not worn it in the last six months you will not wear it, this is the honest truth. Donate what you can, it has many benefits. You make room, you help people without spending more and the mental satisfaction is huge.
Make kids a part of it because when kids donate they learn to let go and get rid of useless clutter, which might be of use to someone in need. The attributes of kindness and help strengthen their moral fiber. Children perceive material needs by what they observe. Being more mindful of our consumption habits teaches them to be more responsible.
Further, the minimalist way of spending goes a long way to help in general. Who are we helping? Practically everybody. First, you save your own money and sometimes the guilt of spending more than you intent to. You help those with less spending power than you. As we know it is all supply and demand, the more I spend the more demand I create and prices surge.
The most important are the environmental implications. Less waste is generated as you use what you buy, to it’s full potential. Most of what is produced impacts the planet in varying degrees, be it air pollution or killing the water bodies.
Even after trying our best there are some indulgences we can still be accused of. For me, it’s the gadgets that are my connection to the world. But now when I upgrade, I recycle the used ones responsibly or donate to those who really need them.
I collect books and never have the heart to donate those, as many to me are like old friends I keep revisiting. Though, I try to buy mostly at garden sales but a better solution is needed.
While shopping something never to be compromised on is nutrition. Healthy and fresh food should always be on the top of your priority list. You don’t have to eat fancy but always eat well.
In all honesty, even the pandemic has not deterred the shopping spirit, the mode is now online. To cut back here is an idea, add items you want to the shopping cart and sit on it for 24 hours. A day mostly cures you of the love for unnecessary pretty things and then buy what you need. Also we need to stop falling for the “it’s on sale” gimmick and not bulk buy. It might be on sale but it is still costing.
We cannot renounce all our habits at once but we can try to gain some middle ground. Minimalist or not our planet deserves a more cautious approach in terms of material consumption and waste generation. One small step at a time, if we try to cut back those hills of rubbish might get smaller.
Share with us the steps that you can take towards the minimalist approach?