Minimalism Is the New Consumerism

Google know it with their front-page minimal web design, manufacturers of minimalist running shoes from Adidas to Vibram know it, there is a growing push-back against consumerism.  Did you know that there is even growing resistance to health consumerism?   Yes, minimalism and minimal design is the in thing and it is here to stay.

minimalism

The last few decades have spurred an entire army of consumers. Millions of innocent people have been bombarded with adverts day after day for years in a row – on the television, the radio, magazines, newspapers and billboards.  Consumerism is everywhere.

You have been conditioned to buy, buy and buy some more.
Here are some exaggerated examples:

    • You already have a complete designer sofa with a matching dining table and home-cinema entertainment system? OMG, it’s so last year. Wait till you get your hands on the *NEW and IMPROVED* collection from this year!
    • Already have more clothes than you can wear? Don’t fear, because you don’t yet have the new summer collection from Ralph Lauren, and that means that your wardrobe is not complete.
    • Buy this *insert crappy unnecessary gadget* to make your life 1000 times easier.
  • Have you heard of the new “health” bread brand XYZ yet? It’s completely fat and sugar free and will boost your immune system so you never get sick again.


The following is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Fight Club:

Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Another movie analogy:

For a second, can you imagine the scene from The Matrix where Neo fights off hundreds of Smith agents who are all surrounding him and attacking him? Except now YOU are Neo, and all the Smith agents are companies bombarding you with advertisements to buy their products. You must use all the kung-fu you know to fight off all the offers and don’t let them trick you into buy more things you do not really need.

It’s No Longer Cool To Consume

We live in a world where more and more people have everything they need and almost everything they want. In fact, more and more people have way too much of everything, much more than they need to survive.

Regular advertising through television, radio and magazine ads is totally not as effective as it used to be. Advertising used to be very effective because only a small percentage of companies were doing it. Today, almost every company is advertising their product on TV or in adverts of some kind.

Do you find yourself blocking out ads when you see or hear them? That’s what I do most of the time. It’s rare that a normal ad really gets my attention or peaks my curiosity.

These days when you go out, playing the perfect consumer and splurging, buying up big, society no longer thinks it’s super cool. In fact, more often than not people will look down on you for buying so much stuff while you already have more than you need.

Consumerism is out. Minimalism is in.

The Emerging Trend Of Minimalism

Have you heard about Minimalism? It is a hot new trend that is emerging. Many influential people (some of who are mentioned further down in this article) are speaking and writing about it and spreading the benefits of living a Minimalist lifestyle.

I personally believe that Minimalism is not just some fad that will fade in a few years, I believe that it is here to stay and will only grow and gain more popularity as it spreads.

minimalist

 

What Is Minimalism

“The term “minimalist” is often applied colloquially to designate anything which is spare or stripped to its essentials.”Wikipedia

My definition of Minimalism is having as little as possible without sacrificing major comforts. In other words, having the tools and possessions to do everything you want to do but not having unnecessary stuff that you buy and never use or don’t really need.

When I was travelling in Europe for over 2 months earlier this year, all I had with me at the time was a suitcase with clothes, toiletries,my wallet, a laptop, cell-phone, a digital camera and a video camera. Everything else was rented (the apartment, bed, kitchen, couches, washing machine etc.)

I can tell you that I still had clothes with me that I never even wore. So that leaves the question, “How much do you really need to live and do everything you want?”

Could I live this way my entire life? I’m not sure.

I believe that I can definitely live off just the suitcase and things I had with me on my Europe trip for a good 10 years, maybe more. I’m still young and am not tied to anything. However, at this moment I feel that when I will have a family sometime in the future, that I would like to have a fixed location, a house with some luxuries like a nice Tv setup, beautiful art pieces and some other things I value.

I will probably incorporate minimalistic design into my future house, something like the picture below.

minimalist bathroom

Leo Babauta on Minimalism

leo babautaLeo Babauta is the author of one of Time Magazine’s top25 blogs for the year of 2009, Zenhabits and a newer blog he recently started at Mnmlist.com.

The following are extracts taken from Leo’s posts on Minimalism:

How does ’simple’ differ from ‘minimalist’?

How is minimalism different? It’s basically an extension of simplicity — not only do you take things from complex to simple, but you try to get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. All but the essential.

Minimalism says that what’s unnecessary is a luxury, and a waste. Why be wasteful when the unnecessary isn’t needed for happiness? When it just gets in the way of happiness, of peace? By eliminating the unnecessary, we make room for the essential, and give ourselves more breathing space.”

Read more on Minimalism from Leo Babauta here.

 

Everett Bogue on Minimalism

Everett Bogue is a guy from New York who started a blog on Minimalism called Far Beyond The Stars.

The following is an extract from one of his posts and explains how he began his journey of Minimalism:

“In July of 2009 I quit my job and moved from New York to Portland Oregon with everything I owned in a backpack. I had no plan and $3000 in the bank.

Everyone told me I’d starve, but I didn’t. Instead I adopted an minimalist lifestyle. I cooked all of my own food, I started working exclusively on the Internet. I learned to manage my time and empty my email inbox. It’s about the freedom that comes from leaving everything and embarking on an experience that actually means something.”

After Everett discovered the popularity of his blog and the amount of people interested in the topic of Minimalism, he decided to create an ebook called ‘The Art of Being Minimalist’. (If you are interested you can learn more about it here).

“It’s easy to look at the fact that I’m living with 50-Things and assume that I just dropped everything all at once. This isn’t true at all.

I slowly worked towards The Edge of minimalist existence.

* In 2003 I moved in a Truck.
* In 2007 I moved in a Honda Civic.
* In 2009 I moved with three bags.
* In 2010 I will move with one bag.”

Not Everyone Can Be A Minimalist

The reason why I do not agree with pure minimalism to the extent of being able to fit everything you own in just one bag is simple.

In order for you to fit everything you own in one bag, there is someone else who has to have more of something. You need a place to stay, so you rent or you stay with a friend. If everyone else owned just a bag of stuff, there would be no house for you to sleep in, no washing machine for you to use and no couch for you to sit on.

Just like the fact that not everyone can make their living online, because we need people to work in factories and produce physical goods and we need people to work on farms to provide food.

That being said, I do entirely believe that most people can live with a lot less than they currently own and I am in favor of promoting the halt of consumerism and excess and unnecessary consumption.

A hint for people in business thinking of minimal and consumer trends

If you are in business, think of those examples of Google with their minimal web design and Vibram with their minimalist running shoes, and consider how deep this trend is going even against health consumerism and ask what you can do to jump on this trend?  What can you take out of your product or service and make it more attractive to certain groups of people?  Alternately, if you are looking to join a company, are they aware of the current trends or are they a dinosaur.  You might as well work for companies who innovate and provide for the needs of the future.

Final Thoughts On Minimalism

Leo and Everett are just two major bloggers who are spreading the word about Minimalism and the Minimalist lifestyle. Hundreds and thousands of people all around the world are picking up on it and starting to apply it to their lives.

It’s amazing how liberating it feels not to own truckloads of stuff. You feel so light and free, there is so little to think about or worry about.

I definitely enjoyed having very little when I was travelling, and it is something the you should experience too. Maybe you will love it so much that you will live your entire life that way. For me, I love cutting down on excess stuff, but stripped to the bone, naked minimalism is a bit too extreme. Everything in moderation, just like all other things in life.

How about YOU?

Do you have way too much stuff that you don’t really need? Have a sale or give it away, see how liberating it feels when you no longer have stuff you do not really care about! If you have experience saying a gentle no to consumerism and living a minimalist lifestyle, please share it with us in a comment.

  • Lindsey McDonald

    This reminds me of a story I heard at a church service.

    There was a man in India who was traveling on a train, and he had all of his possesion in a bag which was sitting in the luggage compartment above him. He was very tired, but couldn’t fall asleep for fear someone would steal everything he owned when he closed his eyes. After hours of fighting to keep his eyes opened he eventually closed his eyes, but shortly after he woke up again realizing he almost fell into a deep sleep. He checked to see if the bag was still there. The bag was gone. He yelled, “Thank Goodness! Now I can finally sleep without worrying about that bag.”

    Basically the moral of the story is material possesions only add extra stress and worry in our lives.

    I thought it was relevant to the article.

    • Diggy – UpgradeReality.com

      Hi Lindsey,
      Wow, very cool story! Thank you very much for sharing it with us!

      Have a beautiful day!

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  • http://www.happyheartandmind.com/ Zengirl @ Heart and Mind

    Diggy,

    Like the new changes and your new posts here. I wrote in my recent post also, that we can all be minimalist in our ways, it depends where we are in our life. Minimalism means different to different people.

    • Diggy

      Hey Zengirl,

      Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated!

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  • http://livingminimal.wordpress.com Martijn

    Everyone can be a true minimalist. The trick is figuring out for yourself what you deem necessary in your life. You might need a 1000 items, that doesn’t matter. What counts is that by reducing your stuff to the level you can reach you are working along the lines of minimalism. In this way we have room (nice pun :) for everyone.

    Love your article,

    Martijn

    Ps. The matrix analogy can be taken one step further. You only need to fight the system if it still has a grip on you. Once you realise that you are no longer part of that system you won’t need to fight it. (introduction 2nd bullet scene)

    • Diggy

      Hey Martijn!

      Thanks for stopping by! I like your view on it, minimalism is different for everyone yet we can all live as minimalist as possible on our own terms:)

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  • Sami Paju

    Hi Diggy,

    Maybe this has been said already in the comments, but I don’t see minimalism as an end, or as some goal that needs to be reached.

    Why be minimalist? I think that in the essence of minimalism is the ability to know yourself, to understand what you truly enjoy in life. And there is the ability of being able to identify the things that give you the most satisfaction.

    For example, this is hardly minimalist but I love motorcycles and the enjoyment I get riding one is just insane! So why would I want to give away this enjoyment? I don’t, but it doesn’t mean I can’t cut back on other things that contribute very little to my well-being.

    //sami

    • Diggy

      Hey Sami!

      That is totally true and that is the reason why I don’t agree with pure minimalism. Sure, you can live with 3 shirts and sleep in a tent and eat baked beans, but that is not very fun :)

      Some luxury things are nice to have, but the bigger picture is to get out of the mode of just consuming and buying more and more.

  • Jonny

    True, I can’t see minimalism going away for some time. Once a persons discovers the freeing nature of it for themselves it is difficult to go back to clutter.

  • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

    Yeah, you’re right – there’s some kind of revolution going on – more and more people tend to get rid of their belongings and actually live a location-independent life.

    I pretty much just need my computer – I have gotten rid of sooo many material things, and I keep counting. It’s an awesome challenge – and I’ll make it grow every single day.

    It’s awesome – and it will go wild in the future – maybe the crisis is a blessing in disguise.

    Nice Style, Diggy, luv it. Dank je wel !

  • Parker Lee

    Alright I’m late, I realize that. Hey Diggy, how are you buddy? I just spoke to Glen today, he had nothing but great things to say about you and your trip to Amsterdam.

    So I’m not going to lie, I’m a consumer, a HUGE consumer. This is probably because of the “humble beginnings” I grew up on. However, it does feel liberating when I get rid of things most would consider a “need” rather than a want.

    This is a very interesting article, one that I wouldn’t expect to see on a self development blog. I enjoy the creative topic choice Diggy!

    All the best,
    Parker

  • http://jetsetcitizen.com John Bardos – JetSetCitizen

    Hi Diggy,

    Long time, no talk.

    I certainly hope minimalism is here to stay because our planet can’t continue with the way we have been consuming.

    It has been a couple of months since I gave up most of my possessions and I don’t miss them at all. There is such a feeling of freedom not having to think about, maintain or shop for things. I hope I can continue like this for a long time.

    • Diggy

      Heya John!

      Indeed long time! I know what you mean, and especially when travelling. The feeling of not missing your stuff at all is incredibly liberating. You realize you do not need it at all and you can just move around with one or two bags of stuff.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that your journey remains safe and fun!

  • Danielle

    Hi Diggy!

    Great post! As much as I have read about minimalism I admire how you aren’t repetitive and you put your own spin on things. As a striving minimalist, I hope to get to a point where I only own and do things I truly love…and from there continue the never ending process! haha

    Thanks for the post! :)

    • Diggy

      Hey Danielle!

      Thank you! I do indeed to stay as authentic as possible and I am happy to hear that it is appreciated!

      I think you said it very well there “I hope to get to a point where I only own and do things I truly love”. As long as you really want it and love it, even though it may be unnecessary in the context of life and survival, then it is still okay in my opinion.

  • Farnoosh

    Brilliant and difficult to do. I love my possessions. I do. I love the collections, the art, the jewelry, the technology and even my dishes. I do. I travel light and far and all over the world and I hardly am allowed to check luggage with my minimalist husband around but I do think that as long as I exercise detachment to my possessions, they don’t own me, I own them. And as long as I use them, they are of some value else I donate or sell them to others for use. Speaking of which, I need to do that more this month. THANK YOU :)!!

    • Diggy

      Hey Farnoosh!

      I am kind of the same. I like stuff but at the same time I don’t need the majority of it. I am happy to travel with just a bag of stuff and have nothing else with me, but when I decide to have my own place in a fixed location I do want a few things around me that I enjoy seeing and having.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Daniel Aylesworth

    Armoire, Stereo, speakers, table, chair, lamp, table, kitchen table, artwork, modern, homemade art, books, laptop, fish, clothes, toiletries, bike, guitar, guitar instruction book, notepad, pen, digital recorder, cellphone backpack, amplifier, spiritual supplies, pipe, and tools I think that is about it for me.

    • Diggy

      Haha, the fish and pipe made me laugh :)

  • Srinivas Rao

    Diggy,

    I’m in the process of moving away from possessions as much as possible. In fact I wrote a post on my own blog on why experiences are better than possessions. I realize more and more that I have alot of crap that I don’t need in my house and slowly I’ve been getting away from it. Consumerism is a recipe for debt and unhappiness. I think you’ll see more and more people embrace minimalism in the future.

    • Diggy

      Hey Srini!

      I read that post yeah, it was good:)

      I hope that more people will embrace it. Consumerism is indeed a recipe for debt and unhappiness. It is possible to be happier and have more fun with a stick and an old tyre than it is with a complete home-entertainment system. Happiness comes from within, not from owning stuff!

  • Positively Present

    Excellent post on minimalism, Diggy! I really agree with your idea that it’s the new consumerism. People are actually starting to believe the old saying “less is more.”

    • Diggy

      Heya Dani!

      Thank you! I think it’s a good thing that people are adopting the idea of less is more. We are way too wasteful as a society!

  • http://homsic4ph.wordpress.com Randall

    I’ts just like a trap created on purpose. We have to work, because we have so much “stuff”.

    Our stuff owns us, it creeps into our lives like a slow growing addiction.

    Remember when riding a bicycle made you happy? The speed, the wind in your face?

    Happiness is in the moment

    Happiness is not in the stuff

    Great post Diggy!

    • http://bloging4dollars.blogspot.com David

      absolutely right! most of beautiful things we remember are the simplest we can imagine!!!!

    • Diggy

      Hey Randall!

      Yeah it is indeed a trap, but a very clever trap. Do you think it ended up like that by coincidence? I don’t think so. Maybe it was not all planned out to the dot, but the direction in which society headed was definitely steered by a few groups of people at the top in governments and big companies who trained the public that it is good to buy, and to work in order to buy more.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Ailie

        Hi Diggy,

        Have you seen Michael Moore’s movie Capitalism: A love story? It could have been called ‘Consumerism – a love story.’ It speaks to big corporations and media and how we have all been programmed to buy buy buy in an insane effort to keep up with the Joneses. And also how credit works to trap people. It made me ANGRY! I feel used by the system – advertisers getting into my mind and influencing me to buy stuff I don’t need. How dare they use my ego against me!

        I’m now firmly on the minimalist path.

        Great article!
        Ailie

        • Diggy

          Hey Ailie,
          I haven’t seen that movie yet! Yeah I can totally relate to how you feel. We slave away, trading our time for money and we need to spend our money on all sorts of useless stuff like cable tv, electronics and unneccessary gadgets.

          I like to keep it simple, and when I get tempted to buy something I don’t really need, the easiest way for me not to buy it is to just put it down and stop thinking about it.

          Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ becoming minimalist

    i sure hope it’s here to stay. since we became minimalists two years, we have found such a deep rewarding lifestyle that we’d never go back to the old world of consumerism.

    • Diggy

      Hey Joshua!

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad to hear that you found it to be such a rewarding lifestyle. I’ve not experienced it as much as you, but from what I have I can tell it feels very liberating!

  • http://articles.onlinebusinessconsultant.co.uk Mark

    I like your definition of minimalism – which for me is far more common sense and attainable than the form that some extremists propose. I love that you recognise that we still need people who are happy to work in manual jobs, etc.

    One thing that Leo recently failed to recognise in his new vision for the world is that if it wasn’t for consumerism, computers would still fill rooms and earning a living from the net wouldn’t be an option for anyone. Like it or not, money does make our world go round – that’s not to say we shouldn’t try to correct the imbalance we have now.

    And, talking of balance, we need the extremists like Everett as well as the realists like you – for without the extremists pushing the boundaries, minimalism would become gradually become diluted and would eventually disappear.

    • Diggy

      Hey Mark!

      Thanks for sharing your view!
      I actually haven’t noticed the big guys who push minimalism talk about a balance like that. But that is where other people come in (like me?) who embrace the principle but not the extremes. I believe that the conecpt of minimalism is a good one that would reduce all the waste and destruction we as a society create.

  • http://www.getinthehotspot.com/ Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    Don’t get me started on people spending money they don’t have. I go to the mall twice a year. Can never believe how crowded it is or understand why people go there as a leisure activity. If you want to hang out there are world class beaches 400m away!

    Being nomadic is the only way to possess little. As soon as you settle down anywhere stuff accumulates. I think combining minimalism with comfort, style and function would be ideal for me in my dream future home. How to achieve it without too many trips to the mall though… that will be the challenge:)

    • Diggy

      Hey Annabel!

      Yeah, I’ve started going to the mall way less, probably a dozen times a year or so and mainly for movies or getting food when I’m with friends. I have very little need to buy anything right now because I have most of what I need to live off.

      I agree with you that being nomadic is the best way to have very little, because it’s simply too much of a hassle to carry it all with you everytime you travel!

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Jason

    Minimalism is the shiznit. I went from owning a billion things to owning around 50 things.

    Two words – Uber Freedom…

    • Diggy

      Hey Jason!

      Nice to hear that Minimalism makes such a difference for you too!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Fearless Road

    For me the final realization that I have everything I need, If not more than I already need has been the cause for slowing down, saving money and becoming rich in spirit, not in material items.

    Great post, particularly liked the fight club quote!

    Dean

    • Diggy

      Thank you Dean!
      Glad to hear that you have found a way of life that works well for you without it relying on mass consumption and materialistic things!

  • http://www.reachourdreams.com Jen

    I enjoyed this post a lot Diggy. I like the way you incorporated movie analogies into this topic (I will have to watch ‘Fight Club’ again).
    I’ve always been fairly minimalist with my possessions. Now I have my own place with my husband we both focus on taking care of what we have and not wasting so we don’t have to be continously buying more stuff. Being time rich is more important to us than more stuff. That being said I like being in one place now and enjoying having a nice home so I am not interested now in living from one bag. I like your balanced approach here. I think like anything in life, its about applying it to your own life and what feels right for you. I think minimalism is something more and more people will embrace as we realise what a difference it makes to the world at large as well as our individual lives.
    Jen
    Ps – love the bathroom design!

    • Diggy

      Hey Jen!

      Good to hear that you too are living a minimalistic life with little unnecessary stuff. Yeah, one bag of stuff is great for travelling, but when you have your own home then a little bit of stuff is very welcome in my opinion.

      I love the bathroom too!
      Cheers!

  • http://RelativeStrengthAdvantage.com Yavor

    Diggy,

    as I wrote on the Bud’s post on the same topic, minimalism actually helps us have *more* in our lives. Here is how – by having less we have less distractions.

    With this newly found *focus* we are more productive and can create more value and thus fulfill our *real* dreams and desires.

    Yavor

    • Diggy

      Hey Yavor!

      I totally agree. By having less stuff to worry about or maintain, we have more time to focus on life, happiness, creativity and love.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com J.D. Meier

    While growing up, my Dad focused on “what do you need?” vs. “what do you want?”

    It was a distinction that drove me nuts, but it built a skill I appreciated in the long run. I can get by with very little.

    • Ivana Sendecka

      J.D., this is very powerful alteration of a question! Awesome! and I am slowly getting there, transition from want to need and more than often my answer to what i need cannot be measured or bought at all ;-)

      thanks for inspiration Diggy -I will watch Matrix trilogy again;-)

    • Diggy

      Hey Jd!
      Your dad sounds like a wise man! Ultimately everyone can get my with very little, and hopefully our greed and consumption will not have to force us to live from very little.

  • http://www.Escapingthe9to5.com Maren Kate

    Wow this was great! I hope minimalism is a ‘for here to stay’ kinda thing – but I don’t trust that consumerism won’t raise back it’s ugly head as soon as the global economic crisis wanes. I love Everett’s blog & must start reading Zen Habits – everyone says it rocks. For myself – I live in a small condo right now and do enjoy small things- the less the better because I’m OCD and if I had a mansion would spend all my time organizing tiny things. But I also like stuff – sometimes too much – I am not sure if I could ever be a true minimalist, but the idea does intrigue me.

    • Diggy

      Heya Maren!

      Yeah, when life is easy and money is plenty, people will spend. Unless they start to think otherwise and are taught to live sparingly.

      I doubt that the economy will be in a good state anytime soon, look for it to get worse before it gets better in my opinion.

      Haha, I can totally picture you spending hours aligning all your stuff and dusting it off. Kinda like Monica from Friends.
      Thanks for stopping by!!