This blog is called Naturally Minimalist, but I haven’t written very much about minimalism so far. Although this aspect of my life is apparent if you visit my apartment (at least I hope so!), it’s not a topic I generally bring up unless someone asks.
I would say I’ve had minimalist tendencies for most of my adult life — I’ve never been one to collect a bunch of stuff — but in the past few years I’ve really ramped it up. (It also helps that I’ve moved quite a few times in my life. Moving from one place to another is an excellent opportunity to take stock of your belongings and do a purge of anything you no longer want or need.)
I subscribe to a number of minimalist blogs and enjoy reading about people who live with less stuff, eschewing the ubiquitous “buy more” American culture. (After reading The 100 Thing Challenge earlier this year, I even got Paul to read it as well. Although we don’t want to live with so few possessions, both of us thought it was a very interesting book.)
I enjoy getting rid of stuff I no longer want. If I don’t like or use something, why bother storing it? There are certain things I keep around because they serve a decorative purpose, but I try to keep those items to a minimum as well.
I’ve done a good job cleaning up my paper clutter. I wasn’t keeping a ton of it around — all of the paper I wanted to save was housed in a single plastic container — but I wanted even less. Earlier this year I scanned everything I could and recycled the paper. The only documents I keep now are things like my birth certificate, car title, and social security card.
The next to go will be physical photographs. I removed them from their albums years ago and I’ve been keeping them in a shoebox, but that clutter needs to go, too. I ordered a photo scanner from Amazon a few days ago (I found a low-cost model that only set me back about $50), and I’m looking forward to transferring all those memories to electronic storage on the computer. (I have an account with Carbonite, which automatically backs up all of the files on our computer without anyone having to do anything.)
Paul and I took a big load of unwanted items to Goodwill last weekend. We each had a bag of clothes to donate and shoes we no longer wanted (in my case, I had a pair of wedges that I purchased online years ago but never wore — I just never liked them and finally gave myself permission to give away a pair of brand-new shoes).
(Speaking of my shoes, I could easily donate another 2-3 pairs of heels. I rarely wear them — my job requires me to dress business casual, but I always wear flats. I like being able to walk quickly. Sometimes I’ll wear heels on the weekend, but only if I know I won’t have to walk very far.)
We got rid of other stuff, too — DVDs; jewelry; books; Brita water filter (we each had one before we moved in together and we have no need for two). Plus a few small gifts that have been given to me over various holidays and birthdays that I didn’t ask for and never used (this is why I usually request that people don’t give me anything).
Getting rid of that pile of stuff made me feel better. Most of the items I donated had been sitting around for months, waiting patiently for Paul and I to motivate ourselves to drive to our local Goodwill. (Just because I don’t like clutter doesn’t mean I don’t have a lazy streak!) I’m loving the newly-cleared space in my closet.
My goal is to get to a point where I only own items that fall into three categories: 1) I love it; 2) It serves a purpose (kitchen items, future reading material); or 3) It’s part of my life only temporarily (food, cosmetics, other disposable items). I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer.