• Erica Lucas

What is a Real Minimalist?

By sharing my journey, I hope to provide inspiration and ideas for others to reflect on their own journeys. Minimalism is a personal, subjective lifestyle. My "less" is not your "less." After two years of realistic minimalism, I share reflections in this blog post.


What is a real minimalist?

If you utilize minimalism as a tool to live intentionally, you are reaping the rewards. You can do it with or without referring to yourself as a minimalist.


The rewards of minimalism can be enjoyed by anyone. Here's a few:

  • less attachment to stuff

  • more experiences in life

  • spend less money

  • quality over quantity

  • fewer things to clean and care for

  • less impact on the Earth


If you can practice portions of minimalism and reap the rewards, you can do it with or without the title. That's a "real minimalist," to me.


Minimalism is a lifestyle which helps me focus on what matters most to me.
Minimalism is a lifestyle which helps me focus on what matters most to me.


What is minimalism?

Minimalism is a lifestyle which helps me focus on what matters most to me. If my journey had a cape with a word stitched on the back, it would read "Freedom!" Freedom from anxiety brought on by clutter, freedom from debt, freedom from the knowledge that my choices are positively impacting the Earth, and the freedom to live my life joyfully by focusing on my family.


On the front of my shirt, it would read "simple." Freedom and simple are my foundational, theme words for minimalism. As more time passes, if something is not simple, easy, or healthy, I'm not particularly interested. Note that it does not need to be all three things for me. Intermittent fasting is not an easy (it's easier than when I started) but it's a simple and healthy approach to feeling better for me.


ADVERTISEMENT



What minimalism is not

It started with decluttering for me two years ago, but minimalism is not about stuff. Decluttering is very often associated with "real minimalists" because we have built decluttering muscles over time to know how to live with less stuff.


It's not (just) an aesthetic. Do not get me wrong. I've come to appreciate a clear kitchen counter every day. But hiding clutter away in cabinets and baskets is not "real minimalism." (guilty of this in the beginning and still have a 'clutter closet" to find a purpose for).


Decluttering + Minimalism = being intentional with what I keep or what I buy. In a backwards way, minimalism prevents me from filling my home back up with stuff after I've decluttered. This was a problem for me in the past, and how I even started on my journey. I bought, bought, and bought.


When I first started decluttering, it was like letting go of a breath I didn't know I was holding. Spaced opened up in my home and in my heart to just breathe. Before minimalism, I was stuffocating.



stuffocation
stuffocation


Minimalism is not about getting rid of all of your possessions and living with less than 100 things or living with only what you need. It's about enjoying the things you have and identifying the things that you do not enjoy. A deeper step is to know ways to remove them from your life to minimize your impact on our precious planet.


Minimalism is not about being frugal or cheap. Minimalism is about learning how money should function for you. If having a quality, sustainably made item is in your budget, you'll end up with an item that lasts longer. If wearing the same $10 shirt until it cannot be worn any longer then repurposing it as a dust rag (or donating it to a textiles center) is your style, that fits minimalism, too.


ADVERTISEMENT




I undid 30 years of money mismanagement after discovering minimalism. You can start a new chapter of your life at any time. You are the author of your life story.



debt free living
You are the author of your own life story.


Minimalism as a tree

Over the last two years, I've felt called to think of minimalism as a tree. The sturdy, thick trunk is my metaphor for minimalism. As my tree grew, new branches slowly appeared representing new lifestyle choices stemming from minimalism. My first branch was eco-minimalism. I've always been a protector of the Earth, and my minimalist choices fell in step. As I researched sustainability, I learned more about choices. Swapping deodorants for a plastic-free option, bamboo toothbrushes to replace the standard plastic ones, dresses made with sustainable fabrics and by ethically made practices.


(Click http://bit.ly/nativeericalucas4 and use my code ERICALUCAS4 for plastic free deodorant choices.)


Not every choice is a sustainable one in my house. I believe in the power of small decisions.


The Power of Small Decisions

Did you know that toothbrushes are less than 100 years old? The first one was made in the 1930s. And because plastic is essentially indestructible, that means nearly every single toothbrush made since the 1930s is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash (source). In fact, 1 billion toothbrushes are put into landfills each year. They’re made from polypropylene plastic and nylon, which come from fossil fuels. Like so much other plastic that’s thrown away, toothbrushes often end up in waterways and oceans (source). You can try bamboo toothbrushes or try a brush with a reusable handle. I switched to bamboo with natural fiber bristles because the handle and the fibers are biodegradable. If the bamboo toothbrush has nylon bristles and tossed into the trash, it's still trash in the landfill. I have been saving my old toothbrushes to reuse as garden stakes.


PS. I'm terrible at labeling my garden. I have 5 different peppers out there without labels because I forgot what I transplanted after the seedlings appeared.


ADVERTISEMENT



My main point here is that a series of small decisions will add up to an impact. Since I've switched, I have put 12 less toothbrushes into a landfill. Not on its own, I'm sure. But if 10 people read this and do the same, then the impact has grown. The choices are contagious for me as well. I also choose "no receipt" when I can. Less trash. The sum of all my "no trash" decisions will add up over time. Last crazy statistic, then I'll stop talking about toothbrushes. More people own a mobile phone on the planet than own a toothbrush (source). That is sad and scary to me.



More people have a mobile phone than a toothbrush.
More people have a mobile phone than a toothbrush.

OK, enough about toothbrushes. Back to my tree. My tree grew more branches with each passing month. A financial independence branch has led me to making better money decisions, having a better relationship with money and digging us out of debt.


Health became a priority to me, and dare I credit minimalism with it. Before I started living with less and intentionally focusing on what matters most to me, my healthy was not a thought. I made poor food choices, didn't exercise, and didn't even care, honestly. The freedom to look inward and decide what matters most to me came from minimalist lessons. My desire for simplicity kick started my physical walking. I set a goal of 100 walks and made it simple to accomplish. Walk around the block? 1 walk. Hike with the kids? 2 walks. Park far away from the store and walk further? 3 walks. No matter if it was 5 minutes or 50 minutes, a few steps or hours of walking. It counts as a walk for me. Small victories add up quickly and I'm trending towards 100 walks before the end of the year!


Every time I experiment with a change like committing to 100 walks, changing my toothbrush, or donating clothes I do not wear, the roots of my tree grow deeper. It strengthens my choice to life a minimalist lifestyle.


Decluttering

It's therapeutic to declutter. An organized space is inspiring. Knowing where your stuff is located in your home saves time. It's acceptable to buy stuff as a minimalist. It falls in step with intentionality. What makes you happy? What do you need? What do you use? The myth that minimalists do not spend money varies from minimalist to minimalist.


You can change your clutter threshold to match your season of life. Mine changes often as a mom. It seems to fly in the face of minimalism, but you can buy stuff as a minimalist. Spending wisely and shopping purposefully is a practiced approach.


ADVERTISEMENT




Summary

There is not a right or wrong way to "do" minimalism. I like simple so I will answer the blog title question in that way. What is a real minimalist? A person who intentionally lives with what matters most to them. Maybe you are focusing intentionally on getting out of debt, but you do not worry about the amount of stuff in your home. Clutter doesn't bother you. You are practicing financial minimalism. Maybe you declutter monthly because it motivates you to clean. Maybe you choose sustainably made clothes but have a plastic toothbrush. Or maybe you are like my husband. He lives with a minimalist, he declutters his stuff when he's ready, but doesn't label himself as a "minimalist." He reaps the rewards of minimalism by practicing it.


The rewards of minimalism can be enjoyed by anyone. Here's a few:

  • less attachment to stuff

  • more experiences in life

  • spend less money

  • quality over quantity

  • fewer things to clean and care for

  • less impact on the Earth


If you can practice portions of minimalism and reap the rewards, you can do it with or without the title. That's a "real minimalist," to me.


You may also enjoy:

FTC Disclaimer: Please note that some links may be affiliate links, and I earn a commission from your purchase. These links share products at no extra cost to you. I may receive some products in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by brand, person, or company.


127 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All