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minimalism

Encyclopedia entry - Nanine Roth - July 19, 2021 - 2 min reading time

Most people wish for greater wealth - and by that they mean: More possessions. For some years now, however, more and more people have been setting their priorities differently. Minimal consumption, but more time for family, friends, experiences. A trend that is good for the environment.

On average, minimalists own far fewer things than their fellow human beings.

However, the aim is not to achieve a certain number of items, but to feel that one's possessions make one happy and do not restrict or burden.

Minimalists do not need status symbols. They derive their well-being from the liberation from material things, thus having more time and flexibility and at the same time protecting the environment.

How does one become a minimalist?

Minimalism means a reduction to the essentials: surrounding yourself only with what you really need, without additional ballast.

Therefore, the first step is often to clean out and reduce. From the point of view of minimalists, many people have (too) many things at home that have never been useful or at least no longer are: Spontaneous purchases, unworn clothes, gifts that have never been used, old documents, unloved books, ...

These things take up physical and psychological space in our lives: they need space, have to be cared for and cleaned. Passing them on creates free space and at the same time gives well-preserved items a second life:
Especially in the case of clothing or electronics, this saves many resources and is therefore a great advantage for the environment.

The second step is to shop more consciously and ask yourself before you buy whether the purchase makes sense and makes you happy. Does this object make my everyday life easier? Does it give me pleasure to look at it? Will it still suit me in a few weeks / months / years?

minimalist decoration
What do I really want in my home?

This conscious consumption is automatically sustainable(er): by decreasing demand, resources are saved, CO2 is avoided in the production and transport of goods, and disposal costs are not incurred either. (More on this: What is sustainable consumption?).

For many people, however, minimalism is not limited to purchasing and usage behaviour, but describes a life model:
Many minimalists also set clearer priorities in other areas and question unhealthy relationships or jobs that do not make them happy.

Minimalism: What do you really need?

Minimalism is a response to the affluent society in which most people in the Global North live.

tidy flat
What you have, you have for a long time: regardless of trends.

Many objects of daily use "have" to be regularly renewed for two reasons: On the one hand, many things are actually manufactured to be less durable and intentionally break after some time (keyword: planned obsolescence).

On the other hand, fashions and trends suggest to us that we have to replace the older object. This trend is particularly evident in fashion - see also Fast Fashion.

A minimalist lifestyle therefore consciously seeks long-lasting things and tries to free itself from fashions and trends. Minimalists do not see this as a renunciation, but rather as a prioritisation: they spend their time with friends and experiences instead of with objects and their consumption and care.