By KATELYN ROBERTS
With New Year’s resolutions devised, put into place and maybe already abandoned, January and February produce all kinds of lifestyle buzzwords.
As a vegan, I already chant the antioxidant-rich language of organic superfoods and probiotics. Recently, however, “minimalism” caught my attention.
Minimalists live efficient lives, and sometimes strive for self-sustainability. Utilitarian practices include owning a tiny home, living out of a backpack and carefully choosing what to consume.
I didn’t grow up as a minimalist. My parents raised me and my two siblings in a five-bedroom suburban home on a perfect cul-de-sac.
My toys included a storage tub filled with Barbies, Bratz and Diva Starz. I had princess pink curtains and a stained glass rose window, and I definitely knew how to trash a room during one of my wild play sessions.
My mom hosted huge parties, always bought decorations from Mexico for the back patio and saved every single craft project, homework assignment and school photo.
My dad always preferred the cheapest option with his weekly trips to the dollar store, and if we didn’t clean our rooms, he threw everything away.
After the divorce, my mom’s new small home was cluttered and full of kids’ memories. My dad’s apartment was sparse and clean, and we ate the same thing every night.
This is important, I promise.
WHERE TO BEGIN
Minimalism has weaved in and out of my life, but always seemed like an unachievable, laughable, only-at-Ikea concept.
Still, the lifestyle appealed to me because I dislike mindless consumerism, product fetishism and society’s need to constantly buy new things. Saving money and the world are just two perks.
I started by donating a lawn-and-leaf bag of clothes, shoes and bags, and a box of utensils and dishes, to my nearest Goodwill. I resolved to make all of my own clothes in 2017.
For more inspiration, I watched a documentary on Netflix that has received a lot of hype.
“Minimalism” follows two reformed rich men who travel across the U.S. preaching their minimal lifestyles.
The film makes Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus look like assholes. One longboards and the other reads his struggles as a wealthy man like slam poetry.
There are no strict rules for minimalism and everyone’s interpretation is different, but I disliked the message of these two.
To me, minimalism just makes sense. I’ve had things and clothes and knick-knacks, and now I’m sick of the clutter.
But a lot of people haven’t had enough things to be sick of. Unlike these two six-figure-earning gents, most people can’t afford one nice $300 jacket instead of five $20 jackets like they recommend.
The minimalists addressed this on their website, TheMinimalists.com, after receiving some heat for preaching an idea that seems difficult to attain. Great, I thought. They aren’t so bad after all.
I was wrong.
The minimalists say poor people can benefit even more from minimalism.
“If we have less money, then we must be more intentional with how we spend it,” they write.
This mindset bothers me.
It’s the same mindset that doesn’t tip servers, the same mindset that tells those living below the poverty line not to enjoy a simple comfort like a beer or a snack.
Yes, it saves money to skip a latte or an IPA, but for many, that’s the only affordable pleasure.
I agree the world benefits when people feel released from the pressure to own a car, home, television, the latest iPhone and the nicest video game console.
However, you can’t change the world by bragging in a blog about your lifestyle choices.
It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when followers tout the benefits of minimalism from a privileged perspective.
LESS IS MORE
Self-righteous minimalists give minimalism a bad name. My position is to take what you can from it.
I’ll continue living with fewer possessions and riding my bike to work, but I don’t plan on self-righteously preaching my lifestyle to those less fortunate.
As I take my first steps into a more minimal life, I know I got my sentimentality from my mom.
Therefore, I allow myself unlimited picture frames for photographs and a drawer that stores (23 years’ worth of) birthday cards.
Minimalism can be for everyone, and it can lead to a healthier society. Let’s just be reasonable in our efforts.
Katelyn Roberts is trying to live a sustainable and efficient life in her 400-square-foot home in Barrio Viejo. Most of her belongings are for sale at Goodwill and Speedway Outlet.