As I have said previously, I’m stuck at home. So, I’ve been trying to take advantage of this time that I have to work on projects I always said I would get around to, one of those being my Netflix queue. I watched a documentary the other day called The Minimalists. It follows people who live a minimalist lifestyle and talks about how it has changed their lives and actions. It gave me a lot to think about.
In the documentary, they talk a lot about the consumerism culture America that is dripping in, and they made some overwhelming obvious points that I’d avoided seeing. One of which talked about our marketing for just… stuff. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements. It’s on TV and cereal boxes, it’s on the radio, in magazines, on our social media. You can’t scroll through your Instagram feed without getting attacked by ads, and I’m not talking about the actual ads that company pay to have generate, I talking about the ones that WE post. Friends and celebrities alike, recommending food, drinks, bags, clothes, jewelry, beauty products. I follow three different nail polish Instagram’s, and they aren’t even nail art accounts! (I just really like the photography…). Don’t even get me started on Snapchat. From a media manager perspective, I get it. It’s so smart. SO freaking smart. But from a critical view, it just… it makes me sad. We have so much stuff, and we are told to keep buying more stuff. And you know what? Some of that stuff does make me happy, but not even half of everything that I own.
The stuff that makes me happy is stuff like nail polish, or cute photo frames full of photos of my friends and my dog. My camera makes me happy, as does my highlighter collection. My chameleon tape dispenser makes me happy, and sparkly earrings make me happy. Old homework don’t make me happy, and I really doubt that I’ll actually need them for future assignments. Jeans that never really fit but I bought them “just to have” don’t make me happy, and neither does my high school graduation gown. Shoes that pinch my toes make me happy when I look at them because they’re pretty, but they don’t make me happy when I’m wearing them. The fake green sunflower on my desk made me happy when I was 14 and it was in my bathroom, but it doesn’t make me happy now it just hogs space and collects dust. These are little things that I can donate or throw away and it will make a huge impact on my mental health, and comfort level within my own space.
I’m not planning on going full minimalist right now. It is definitely something that I would like to work towards however. There are so many people on this Earth, and it is so incredibly privileged and irresponsible to ignore the impact that we have on our environment. Watching the doc, I’ve definitely started thinking about what I own and about what I consume. One of the points they made that really stuck to me was, why have a ton of things that I kind of like, instead of a couple of things that I really like. It’s made me look around my room and consider what I actually enjoy spending my money on, and how can I make those purchase more responsible? For example, I really love buying books. I really don’t like reading things on screens (Ironic, no?). So, from now on, I’m going to try to only buy used books, and borrow more from my library. Another example, I really love make up, but am I buying make up that tests on animals? Am I buying make up I will use regularly? If it’s a crazy color or something for special occasions, is it possible to borrow it from a friend who already has it? I love buying Starbucks, but could I bring a reusable mug instead? If I am looking to buy something, can I buy it locally? Or even from women or POC owned/run small businesses?
All these questions got me thinking about trash too and where all that stuff ends up. My family’s darkest secret is that we don’t recycle. We have a recycling unit, and zero good excuses for not doing it. Getting my family into the habit of recycling is one of my goals this year, especially considering how easy it is for us to do. For the most part most of our waste is recyclable or compostable. I haven’t brainstormed or researched for a great composting option for us, but it is another thing I am working on. The Happiness Project (info below) talks about picking one improvement I want to make in my life and focusing on that for a month, so recycling is what my family is focusing on this February.
I’m not going to throw everything I have out and start from scratch but I definitely will take all of these thoughts and ideas into consideration in the future. I encourage you to think about them as well! With all that has happened in the past year politically and everything that’s gone wrong, this is one thing that we can ALL work on. We can find excuses to not go vegan (another goal of mine); people can pretend global warming isn’t scientifically proven; but give me one good excuse we can’t and shouldn’t lessen our consumption?
If we don’t act responsibly, then there won’t be much of a future for anyone else.
If you have any advice or links relating to this topic, please share it with me! This is one cause that I don’t think influences much strain on our mental well being, considering all the improvements small changes can make.
Here are some interesting articles I found that I enjoyed and inspired me:
~Zero Waste Girl (she hasn’t made trash in 2 years, no trash at all. Woah).
~Trash Is For Tossers (this website is full of informational videos on how to live waste free. I spent several hours here).
~The 333 Project (Challenge yourself to be creative with your fashion, and to appreciate the pieces you already own. The website is also full of minimalist tips and tricks for those of you looking to scale down).
~The Happiness Project (I was given this book for Christmas last year and finally got around to reading it. Gretchen Rubin has an excellent narrative, and she talks about a project she put together to enjoy life more and incidentally she purges and lessens her amount of stuff as a step to feeling happier. This link takes you to her website).
~#Mermaidshateplastic (This is a gorgeous and tragic art piece using old plastic bottles by photographer Benjamin Von Wong).
~#mermaidshateplastic pledge (Pledge to decrease your plastic consumption. Sometimes signing your name up is enough to push yourself to make a change. Why do you think I wrote about it?)
This is one topic that I’ve been learning about when I need a temporary escape from our political reality, and I would love more reading material that you might have. You can share them to my Facebook page, or here in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!
I’ll come up with a better name for my own project, and I’ll be posting updates on my progress weekly!