Part 1: My path towards minimalismAs part of my Master Composter Recycler (MCR) training there was certainly a real change in my thinking. I started rethinking my possessions: Why did I buy this? Did I need it? Was it making my life better, easier, or simpler? This TED Talk reinforced those thoughts, as did a fellow MCR’s YouTube video (and catchy song). I loved the basic ideas of minimalism: having less, doing more, becoming a connoisseur of life.
|The book that started it all|
"Overwhelmed" was an interesting read; it takes a gendered look at leisure time. The author examines the reasons North American women feel like they have no ‘free’ time. In brief:
- Women have inherited a cultural imperative to maintain thoroughly clean spaces. Leisure, for happiness and mental health, comes AFTER work.
- We own a lot of things that all require some amount of care.
If taking down time seems daunting, here is a lifehack for men or women: have fewer things to clean!
Every knickknack needs to be dusted, every blanket folded, every pillow fluffed. Each item you have in your home is not just a thing that you have, but a thing that you have to do. There is always a task to be done, and if we wait to play until we have nothing to do, we may very well die waiting. It was a logical, well laid-out case. I wanted to be free of the trap that my possessions had become.
Galvanized, I revisited this post by The Minimalists, the speakers from this TED Talk. I knew that their game would be a good way for me to start lightening up my life and making space for things that I truly wanted in it.
How the game works:This challenge spans one full month. Find a friend who will get rid of some of their excess stuff. Each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. Two things on the second day. Three things on the third. And so forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day. Whoever keeps it going longest wins.
None of my friends were in for September and I didn't want to wait, so I played the game a bit differently. Instead of using daily rules, I set the goal that, by the end of the month, I would possess 465 fewer items. That's the same total as the daily game, but if I missed a day due to school, work, or life, I had not failed.
I took it one step further and set the goal that only 5% of what I got rid of could go in the garbage. This meant I couldn't "cheat" and throw anything usable away just to be rid of it. After all, this wasn't just about getting stuff out of my life, but also about minimizing my environmental footprint.
With my motivation high and my game rules in place, I set up a spreadsheet to track what I sent where, keep an ongoing tally, and count down to my goal of winning this game.