The Pursuit of Minimalism

I was fortunate to do several interviews with news outlets to promote “The Big Downsize” documentary series. A few of them asked me about the pursuit of minimalism and living a life with less. I believe owning less brings you a sense of freedom and hopefully more money to enjoy experiences instead of stuff.

During the coronavirus shutdowns and social distancing rules, we couldn’t enjoy the experiences and events we might have participated in previously. That situation and the political upheaval and protests made me think. There are so many more important things in life than the churn of accumulating and letting go of stuff. Many people in this world, especially during unprecedented times of difficulty, cannot afford to buy things they don’t really need. Many can’t even afford to buy essentials. And yet, many of us continue to consume and discard at an alarming rate.

At retail stores across Canada (HomeSense, for example), people often line up and wait for the store to open so they can shop. This has me questioning just how much money everyone has to spend. In fact, news reports suggest that many Canadians face financial difficulties. It makes me wonder what they could “need” at a store selling home décor.

I was hopeful that while we were all at home, we would contemplate our life and the stuff in our homes. And perhaps we would conclude that rampant consumerism is not necessarily good. And I thought that maybe we would also question how we discard the stuff we don’t need as we sat face-to-face with it and had no place to drop it off.

Donating items to those in need is always a good thing. However, I have seen many things dropped off at donation centres that are really and truly garbage. I can only assume that we do this to make ourselves feel better about owning so much. Does that somehow give us permission to go out and buy more because we’ve done a good thing with what we no longer want or need?

If we didn’t buy so much in the first place, then we wouldn’t be in pursuit of minimalism. We would already be living a life of intention.

A minivan with the back door open shows the interior full of items for donation as the pursuit of minimalism continues.

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