The Minimalism Trend - 3 Takeaways on Excess and Choices

We have too much stuff. After ringing in the new year and watching a documentary called Minimalists: A Documentary About the Important Things, I'm very on board with resetting for 2017 by purging the loads of stuff that accumulates in our house. We've finally lived in one residence longer than any rentals that came before, and it's wonderful. I think it's a realistic American Dream—not a complete dream house with water views or the complete perfect location, but a responsible little haven that we worked really hard for in a town we truly love. But it also means that by not moving every two years or less, like we did many times, we aren't cleaning out and moving all our worldly possessions constantly—and that means extra clothes, home goods, decorations, and other random items collect in the hidden corners of closets and shelves.

It's time for a reset and a refresh to start the year, but I'm not entirely convinced tiny houses and micro apartments will ever be for me. They're very cool and responsible, but everyone makes different life choices, and that one may not be right for our family for many reasons. As an artist, I acknowledge that keeping my art supplies and paintings that haven't yet sold doesn't make me irresponsible. But that does have to be tempered with going through paperwork and supplies periodically to throw out the junk. I want solar panels someday when we can afford them. I also love to decorate our home and that style evolves over time with our needs, so I did go through and clean out a fair amount of excess. (And no one really needs 50 tshirts and 50 pairs of shoes—so some of them got the boot. Not all, but I'm on board with throwing away things that don't bring me joy.) I'm a wannabe follower of the capsule wardrobe idea, but it's a slow work in progress. I still have too many shoes, but that's another story...

All that taken into consideration, here are a few takeaways and personal opinions our little family has embraced:

  1. Research the supply trail. Value fair wages. Respect the environment. Your choices have a big impact on the world, our oceans, and our coastlines. Shop small. Start actually using reusable grocery sacks every time you shop—make it a rule, not the exception. (And use the plastic ones from the times you forgot as dog walk pick-up bags.)
  2. Focus on experiences, not stuff. It's a very real thing that we hardly ever give each other Christmas or birthday presents...it's a personal choice, but we opt for trips, even mini weekends. Our memories will last a lifetime, but stocking stuffers will not.
  3. Less is more. Quality over quantity is sometimes not realistic in every situation, but it's my adult mantra 95% of the time. I am a bargain hunter to the core, but I will buy that one super expensive black sweater when it goes on clearance over getting five cheap ones. I'd rather have one great bag for two years than five faux ones. I'd rather buy one more expensive beautiful pillow or gift from a fellow artist with a story than ten mass-produced ones. We choose to shop all organic seasonally and meal plan resourcefully with minimal waste instead of overbuying plentiful non-organics and letting food go bad in the fridge. We're real though and fail at this in many weak moments, but I'm getting better at only letting myself shop for staple pieces, not trendy fillers. It takes more time to find quality items in an affordable way, but that's worth it to me.

We really believe in consuming just a few great quality items instead of tons of cheap ones—and I'm building a brand around those same values. 7th & Palm products have an intensely mindful supply trail and commitment to sourcing US-made products and supporting local jobs. I also want to tell a story that's bigger than just a mug or t-shirt, as well - so the motivation, purpose, and "why" behind my business matters.

So while I'm not going to give away everything, I'm going to keep on decluttering. Keep looking for ways to simplify. Do more research. Focus on progress over perfection. And be mindful of how our actions affect others and the world we leave for the next generation.

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