exciting news!

October 5, 2008

becoming minimalist has moved.  please visit us at our new address: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

also, don’t forget to update your bookmarks as all new posts will be entered on the new site.  we hope you’ll like the new look even more as we don’t change any of our content or stated goals.

“Top 10 Colors Define a Season of Change” is the headline.  Without further suspense, here are the top ten fashion colors for 2008: Pantone Fashion Report.

I think that if I was running the fashion industry, it would be important for me to change the “latest” colors often so that people would have to buy new clothes.  It would keep money flowing into my industry.  I think four times every year would be enough to keep people coming to my store.  now, I’m not implying that the fashion industry strategically and intentionally changes the colors and styles to get our money… oh wait, that’s exactly what i’m implying.

related posts:

i made some time to do some work around the house today and decided to take a trip to the garbage dump. over the last three months, i have thrown countless things into our garbage cans for the garbage man to haul away. but we have also amassed a small pile of “large items” that won’t be picked up curbside.

i loaded up the family mini-van with old vacuums, a chair, suitcases, a garage door opener, two old doors, weed whacker, sheet rock, a medium sized bag of tools, two large toys, and some other miscellaneous trash. while at the dump, two things struck me.

1. i paid $15.50 to dump the junk. while i was actually quite happy with the price, i couldn’t help but think, “this is so ironic. i’m giving you good-for-nothing junk and you’re charging me money? i mean, i already had to pay for this stuff once, i’ve got to pay again just to get rid of it!” it got me thinking… essentially i just paid them $15.50 to purchase some space for my junk. i am simply buying real estate in some hole somewhere in the earth to store my stuff. now, i’m smart enough to know that there are other costs that go into running a junkyard such as tranportation, machinery, and labor… but essentially, i’m just paying them for space in their garbage hole aren’t i?

that reality led me to lesson #1. whenever i make a purchase, i am forever responsible for finding the space to store that item – whether it be a baseball, a vacuum, or a sofa. unless i can sell the responsibility to somebody else, it will always be my duty to find space for it to exist (even if it means a one-time fee of $15.50). and that seems like a good way to think though any purchase.

2. i helped a young man unload a treadmill machine from the back of his pick-up to leave at the dump. i was thinking of the good feeling that i was experiencing after removing the large items from my home and i said to him, “i bet it feels good to get this out of the house.” “it sure does,” he responded with a smile on his face. lesson #2 – never buy a treadmill.

related posts: the story of stuff; minimalism in america, part 2

the story of stuff

July 15, 2008

the story of stuff.com

as a part of my job, i frequently take adults and students to third-world environments.  and i have taken enough trips over the years i can predict what the emotional response is going to be in the life of somebody who has never seen life outside of the established, consumer-driven, american culture where i live.

they will have three emotions at some point during the trip:

  1. they will marvel that people with so little can be so joyful.
  2. they will long to enjoy life as much as the people they meet.
  3. they will say that they are blessed to live in america and own so many possessions.

the reflective ones will connect the dots and realize the foolishness of their third statement as soon as they say it out loud.  others will repeat the same three emotions over and over again.

the truth is that “possessions” and “joy” are not equal.  this can be seen in the statistics (america ranks #1 in rate of depression) and this can be seen in the people we meet in the third-world countries (which leads to the emotion #1 and #2).

the unfortunate truth is that for so long americans have equated possessions with joy in life that even when the evidence is right in front of their face, we are blind to recognize it.  minimalism begins to conteract that belief structure.  we begin to live with less and find that joy does not leave our lives. 

it may even feed it.

 

according to the national association of home builders, the average american home has more than doubled since 1950.  and once we’ve got that extra space, we need to buy things to put in it, right? 

no wonder minimalism is such a foreign concept to us americans.

 

you can see my first post on the failure of minimalism to catch on in america right here.

i just read some more interesting statistics reinforcing the notion of america’s unquenchable desire for everything material. 

  • it took 25 years for the storage industry to build its first billion square feet of storage space. the second billion square feet was added in just seven years, from 1998 to 2005, according to the self storage association.
  • in 1995, one in 17 american households rented storage space. by 2007, that ratio had increased to one in 10, according to the self storage association.
  • the average american home has grown from 1,400 square feet in 1970 to 2,300 square feet today, but the average size of the household has shrunk from 3.1 to 2.5.
  • five years ago, the total amount of revolving debt — mainly credit card debt — that americans owed was $800 billion. today, according to the June credit report released by the federal reserve, it’s nearly $1 trillion, even as millions of us regularly plundered home equity to pay off plastic.

i can’t help but wonder what kind of a difference america could be making around the world if they had spent that $300 billion on feeding hungry children or delivering medical supplies to needy families around the world instead of spending it on stuff and empty spaces to store their stuff.  i’m not judging, i’m just wondering…

 

You can read the whole article here: The High Price of Too Much Stuff.