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The Minimalism Challenge

Making space for things that matter or how decluttering your house can help you declutter your mind.


Look around your house, the things you own, the things that are there and maybe you don't even know why or what purpose they serve, things you don't want to throw away in case one day it becomes useful, fashionable or exactly what you need for that dress up party (nope, that ugly glittery dress probably won't be the thing you decide to wear). We keep on buying things hoping to feel better, prettier or more fulfilled but instead it just leaves us feeling empty in a messy room craving for something more.

When I think of the last time I felt most free and light from all my belongings, it was during my travels to Morocco. I found that place to have truly captured the essence of minimalism and the beauty of simplicity. Food is delicious, yet very simple, people seem to be able to enjoy their days just sitting on a plastic chair out in the sun, they own less of material things but they do own much more presence and connectedness in life and it's what we all search for, isn't it. Just maybe we do it by wrong measures.  

Trying to blend in with the cool kids in Morocco

My minimalist journey has begun very recently, yes, I've been reading about this mad consumerist society, about whales and dolphins choking on our H&M pants, about children working day and night to make you that shirt that you will decide not to wear because red doesn't go well with your skin tone. But I must admit that I chose to ignore this a little bit, I didn't want to see how me buying a piece of clothing for 10$ and wearing it twice could be a part of the problem. I've heard about this movie concerning fast fashion industry and it's impact - "True Cost" - but again I didn't feel like watching it for a while as I knew I will have to make changes in my habits. Finally, when I watched it, it wasn't something completely new but it was a well-timed reminder.  Apart from the fact that the fast fashion industry is a true villain in the story (it's also the second dirtiest, most polluting industry in the world, the first being oil), it's also something that we ourselves created as it's driven by our demand for more, I couldn't help to see parallels with our life in general. 

  • We view things as being disposable versus sustainable. Clothes, furniture, etc. used to be something that you keep your whole life and then you probable pass it to your (grand)children. Now as shopping has become a lifestyle and sometimes a hobby of many, we're constantly bombarded with an idea that you have to get that newest piece of clothing and throw away the one from last year. All this creates a demand for an excessive amount of cheap clothes that are not manufactured in a sustainable way. At the same time, aren't we starting to view unmaterial things as disposable too? Tinder is a perfect example of this illusion that even people=matches can feel disposablelike: if you don't like it just swipe left, there will be plenty more options. 

  • We are disconnected from the sources. Globalisation has it's advantages (coca-cola, right) but at the same time we take for granted things we can buy, we don't know where it came from and what it took to reach us. Starting from your morning coffee cup, have you ever thought of the chain of people who collected the beans with their hands, selected them, put them to dry, roasted them.. Or that piece of clothing. Who worked on it, how much attention and hard work it took for someone to make it, to pack it, to ship it, to finally reach you. I'm not saying we should say a prayer every morning to our coffee or the clothes we wear (unless you want to) but to think about the things we own with a perspective of gratitude instead of entitlement.

  • We live in an illusion. We are made to believe that we can afford things we want, buying a new dress every week, the newest tech gadget, etc. when actually we can't usually afford the things we need like housing, education (at least without a loan). But all the shopping temporarily relieves our worries about the future, maybe even makes us happy for a moment but in the end that joy is short-lasting. We attribute feelings of safety or maybe even happiness to material things, however we come to realise that most of them do very little to actually have a long-term effect on your well-being. We've heard it many times: "Spend money on experiences instead of things" because experiences (travels, art, classes, hobbies..) it's what counts in the long run.

Hmm let's see, what goes well with my brown pants?

The Challenge

First of all, if you don't share this struggle of consuming more than you need and you're already living with two pairs of socks and two t-shirts that you made yourself, congratulations, you're a minimalist and you probably don't need this challenge. I definitely do and as it's more fun to start changing things when it becomes some sort of a game, I found this 30-Day Minimalism Challenge, where you have to get rid of one thing first day of the month, two things on the second day, three things on the third and so on. Everything counts:

Collectables.  Decorations. Kitchenware. Electronics. Furniture. Bedding. Clothes. Towels. Tools.

The goal is to get rid of it, doesn't matter how, donate, sell or throw it away. Also, you can find a friend and make it a competition who can last longer so both of you are more motivated to continue.

First days were quite easy, getting rid of the "trash", old clothes, papers and wires from hell knows what, but by the 15th day it got harder and harder. Eventually I had to get to things that I liked but not loved and put them in a bag, give away all those "what if" dresses, "maybe I'll use that" tools, notebooks, pointless certificates and so on. And then I even got to clothes that I loved but not "loved loved" and got rid of those. I tried to give it away to my friends (I could have been nominated the seller or the month) as it was much easier (and sustainable) than throwing it away.

After the whole month of this challenge I looked around my room and it felt so much lighter, a little bit more empty but in a really good way, in a way where I finally felt that I own my stuff instead of it being the other way around. That emptiness is so necessary as only with it you can make space for important/loved/joyful things in your life. It's getting back to that essentialism idea, selecting the crucial things to surround yourself with.  

However, getting rid of your stuff is only part of it, the other part is consuming less or overviewing what you really need vs what you think you need at that moment. I sometimes suck at making this distinction and end up buying things impulsively so I made a deal with myself: from now on if I buy a new piece of clothing I will have to get rid of one that I already have, meaning, if I buy a new t-shirt I'll have to get rid of one in my closet (and it's tricky because after minimalism challenge I'm only left with clothes that I really like). In that way, I hope to create a habit of planning my shopping and buying less unnecessary s*it. Or in other words: don't buy/do/own/be around anything or anyone you don't love. 


The Minimalist Challenge:

"True Cost":

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