My old housemate and I used to talk about minimalism a lot. We daydreamed about the possibility of only owning 100 items -- including undies. We talked about how each item would need to be carefully chosen, with thought given to each: is it multi purpose? How long will it last? Will it improve my life?
Whenever we had one of these discussions, it would end in me going through and auditing all of my belongings.
Usually I would end up with three piles:
· The biggest pile: things I think I definitely need, and will use in the next month.
· The middle pile: things I might need one day... but most of all am worried if I threw them out I would ultimately end up missing them (even though in two weeks time I'll forget I have it).
· The smallest pile: things I can safely say I don't need, or don't want. Basically this is the clutter -- or the t-shirts with holes I've been hanging onto in the middle pile for the last three audits.
This really only sunk in when I heard a statistic on a Triple J podcast last week that one in five grocery bags worth of food is thrown out in Australia.
In an effort to be more efficient at being minimal, I decided to donate, sell or throw out most of my belongings before we moved and it worked so well. It was time-consuming, but it was a great way to declutter, and get a reward for doing it.
Once you are out of the middle zone, you start thinking more practically.
Now that we are living in Hong Kong, we have carefully chosen how we have decorated our apartment. We only bought functional furniture, and nothing that would mean we would just hoard things we don't need -- and it has worked a treat. Now each time we are tempted to purchase something, we carefully consider where we would put it, or what value it would add.
Another habit we have changed is how we consume food. At first we thought it was frustrating that the meat was imported -- because it had to be frozen to be imported, the use by date was sooner than it would have been in Australia where meat is fresher. After living here for four months and changing the way we plan our meals, and shop, I can see the benefits to this.
We now purchase to consume.
This really only sunk in when I heard a statistic on a Triple J podcast last week that one in five grocery bags worth of food is thrown out in Australia. We have always been good at using as much of what we purchase, but are guilty of wasting food when we didn't plan properly, or got drawn in by the supermarkets sneaky marketing tactics. Since moving into our apartment, we have only thrown out one tub of tofu (RIP).
Once you start to think about your habits, it's easy to make small tweaks to how you consume. It's actually quite fun and rewarding after a while.
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Some of the top things we have done to be more minimal:
· Sign up to eBay -- I helped fund our move by selling more than a thousand dollars worth of my old electronics, clothes and household items on eBay. If you have any Apple products lying around, you are sitting on a small gold mine, as well as the clutter. Anything you're not sure what to do -- depending on the size list it on eBay or your local classifieds. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
· Smaller grocery shops -- Plan ahead and only buy what you will eat to prevent things going off and needing to be thrown out.
· Buy to replace -- Things you need, not that you want. We are working on a one-in, one-out system. Of course, there are some things you want to splurge on, but for the most part we are focusing on replacing worn out or unsuitable clothes rather than adding to our wardrobe... after all, our wardrobe isn't that big.
· Think versatility -- Things that are multipurpose are your friend. Can one thing do more than one task, or can you wear that new jacket to work and to play?
· Have less storage/shelving -- This might be a bit hard if you're already settled in somewhere, but not having many spaces to put things has done wonders for us. We will spend five minutes thinking about how we want something, then 10 on where could we even put it if we got it, then 30 seconds on putting it back down.
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