Comedian George Carlin did a hilarious routine about “stuff.” In it, Carlin suggests “your house is a place to keep your stuff…while you go out and get more stuff.”
That’s a pretty apt description for many. Our homes are filled with beautiful furniture, amazing artwork, appliances, knickknacks, electronics, books and a variety of other tchotchkes.
For many these things enrich their lives. For others, they create clutter. For that latter group, the backlash against consumerism has led some to make a 180-degree turn and live a more austere lifestyle. Those seriously opposed to collecting stuff have adopted an approach known as minimalism.
Minimalism is about living without: without a lot of clothes, without a lot of furniture, without a lot of, well, anything. The belief is that living without material possessions provides one with extra money, time and freedom. As a society we’ve come to believe that happiness is linked to a bigger television, a better smartphone, newer clothes, another car. Minimalism suggests that none (or almost none) of that is necessary.
True minimalism is not easy to achieve. For most people, decluttering is sufficient. For minimalists, life is about living with only what you really need. For minimalists, the rule of thumb is “When in doubt, toss it out.” This applies to everything in your home.
For those who spend their entire lives accumulating stuff, living a minimalist lifestyle is not easy — it may not even be desirable. If you want to try, though, here are a few steps to get you started.
Like most big projects, minimalism requires motivation and a plan. Start with small goals. Take each room step by step and ask yourself whether an item is something you need or something you want. If it’s something you need, put it back. If it’s something you want, donate, recycle or get rid of it.
Let’s be clear: No one is suggesting you eat off the floor. A table and chairs are reasonable and necessary. But how many sets of dishes, silverware and glasses do you need? Do you need a toaster and a microwave? Do you need a microwave and an oven? Does your kitchen have more gadgets than Bobby Flay?
You have a kitchen table. Maybe you could get rid of the dining room table and chairs. Most of you furniture is probably unnecessary, too.
Applied to everyday life, the Pareto Principle suggests that most of us wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. That means the vast majority of stuff in your closet does nothing more than collect dust. The Pareto Principle applies to many aspects of our lives.
But minimalism is more than “If you don’t use it, get rid of it.” Minimalism suggests that even if you do use it, you still might get rid of it.
How many televisions do you have? If there are have more televisions than people in your home, you probably have too many. For the true minimalist, any television might be too many.
The minimalist lifestyle is not for everyone — in fact, it’s probably not even for most people. There’s no hard and fast line that, once crossed, turns you from a declutterer to a minimalist. Like many things in life, this is a continuum. And all families need to figure out what approach is best for them.
Whether you’re interested in adopting a minim`alist lifestyle or simply decluttering, a Bin There Dump That bin can make the process easier. It’s the one last thing you need to acquire (temporarily) before clearing your stuff. Get started by visiting the Bin There Dump That website at: www.bintheredumpthat.com/
(Interested in seeing Carlin’s probably-not-super-safe-for-work routine on “Stuff”? Check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac)