Mastering the Art of Ambling Into Minimalism
The 3 principles I used to free myself from excess stuff without making it a burden on the planet
Moving house is one of the rare occasions in life when we are brought face to face with the reality of all our belongings — right down to the contents of the bottom kitchen drawer.
After a few days of wrapping Ikea glasses and packing boxes, I was ready to throw everything I owned away. And not just the random buckets of used-only-once cleaning products. I was also reevaluating the need for the things I genuinely loved, like the artworks I had bought on holidays and the books that would immediately start gathering dust again once placed back onto their relocated shelf. It all seemed like too much. Too much stuff to pack. To carry. To unpack. To maintain.
My partner and I talked about making a sea change for years. We wanted to leave life in Sydney behind for a simpler, lighter existence a little further up the coast. Now it was finally time to leap. Yet, here I was: Sitting on the floor of the half-empty apartment, feeling like the things we owned, owned us.
The dark side of decluttering sprees
Marie Kondo and Co make us believe that shedding our stuff is an act of personal liberation. And if my life were a Hollywood comedy, our moving day would have been the perfect moment for a whimsical montage. Items would be dumped in the bin, sold to strangers on Gumtree (the Australian version of Craigslist), and overflowing bags handed to happy and grateful looking volunteers at the charity store. A fun, carefree and – most importantly – instant transformation to minimalism that ends with us driving off into the sunset in a mostly empty moving truck.
Yet, this was real life, meaning that it didn’t just lack the soundtrack and time-lapse; the process was also a lot more complicated.
As someone trying to tread lightly on this planet, a decluttering spree epitomises much of what’s wrong with our modern relationship with stuff. It has little to do with the intentional decisions at the heart of minimalism.
We offload our possessions without much care, with many items going into landfills or…