I have been asking myself these following questions recently: Do I need this item? Does this add value to my life? Do I really need this cluttering up my apartment? Does this thing make me happy? And I’ve been finding myself amazed at all of the items I've said "no" to, at all of the junk that I've accumulated. I am surrounded by objects that do not add value to my life. I have thrown so much money away because of my belief in our society's need for materialistic things and I only realized all of this after I watched the documentary Minimalism.
If you have yet to check out this documentary, I promise it is worth the hour of your life. One hour can make you realize that we have all been subjected to the control of advertising, of fast fashion, of consumption. We live in a world filled with new things, new trends, new technology; all this newness right after you bought the last new thing. And that isn’t a way to live. We think material items are going to make us happy, that they are going to fulfill us. But really we all need to learn to live more with less, and here are a few reasons why.
Fast fashion and consumption is actually killing the environment
We Americans throw away about 12.8 million tons of textiles a year. That is about 80 pounds per every adult and child in this country. All of these clothes fill our landfills faster than it can decompose and that material is simply wasted when it should be recycled and reused. But it is not only our landfills that are suffering; to make one ton of clothes it takes about 200 tons of water, water that some don’t have access to due to drought or bad pipes. Textile production, if not environmentally regulated, also dumps chemicals and other pollutants into rivers and streams which is the biggest polluter in China and has ruined farming in India and Bangladesh. The electronics and other items we discard when the newest model comes out only heightens the problems that our environment is facing. Minimalism, and simply consuming less, will help the environment out immensely.
Science shows us money does not equal happiness.
Many studies that span back to the 1970s have shown that winning the lottery often causes a level of depression that those winners never had before. Scientists say that money can buy some form of short term happiness, but then your happiness is dependent on more financial gain or materialistic gain rather than real happiness. Additionally, multiple surveys have found that experiential purchases (purchases that are made to give you life experience rather than objects) make people happier than material purchases are able to do. More money and more things have been scientifically proven to diminish our happiness, but money spent on experiencing more of the world (living more) have been shown to boost our happiness and our worth. Living a life of minimalism will increase your happiness, simply because your realize happiness is not about material worth.
Minimalism can boost friendships among many other benefits.
Starting a journey towards minimalism helps you evaluate your friendships. You realize the friendships which are toxic simply because they are centered around who has bigger and better things, and who is earning and spending more money. You realize you need to let go of the friends who only care about money, and you need to keep the ones who love you for you. You build friendships where you can ask each other to borrow things, so you do not go out and spend money for “one-time use” items. You build relationships based on experience, and enjoyment, not materialism; and if that isn’t beautiful, then I do not know what is.
At the end of the day, it is not that you should own nothing, it’s that nothing should own you. Once we start to rid of the toxicity in our life, once we start to throw out the useless items that surround us, that is when we really learn to live with more; with more purpose and more happiness.