4 Ways to Explore Minimalist Living in the New Year  

Ethical consumerism goes hand in hand with “minimalism”. Not necessarily minimalism as a design aesthetic or (as we sometimes see it) a restriction on how many items one is “allowed” to own, but simply the idea of minimizing your consumption of clothing and other items and avoiding excess. After all, the driving force behind fast fashion’s frenzied production cycle and labor rights violations around the world is overconsumption of cheaply made goods.

This new year, here are four ways that you can explore a minimalist mindset in the way that you spend your money and time.

Set a “new stuff” limit

It’s great to set goals to reduce your consumption. One way to do this is to plan ahead and determine a number of items that you feel most comfortable with for additions to your home or wardrobe. For example, you could decide that you’ll only add two new items of clothing or accessories to your closet each month (for a total of 24 pieces for the year), or set a goal that you won’t purchase any new books until you’ve read all the books that you currently own.  Another way to limit your intake of stuff is to commit to “re-homing” an item for each new one that you bring into your home, or even swapping items that each of you no longer use with a friend.

Try a spending fast  

A spending fast is a great way to take a break from consuming stuff so that you can assess what you already have. Choose a period of time- two weeks, a month, three months- and set guidelines for your “fast”. Some people choose to only purchase groceries and pay bills during a spending fast, others still budget for dining, entertainment, and other usual spending categories but take a break from purchasing clothing or other physical goods. If you attempt a spending fast in the new year, try using the time and even money that you would normally use up on shopping on an experience- buying a state park pass and going camping, taking an art class, or setting funds aside for travel.

Keep a “needs” list to avoid impulse buys  

As you become aware of needs- gaps in your wardrobe, a replacement for a broken or worn out item, etc- write them down (a notes app on your phone that you can access at all times is great for this!). When shopping, refer to this list and avoid purchases that aren’t contained on your list. This is a great way to have a “check” in place for yourself to evaluate your priorities when you’re tempted to purchase something you don’t need just because it’s a good price or because you feel like you want it in the moment.

Sell and Donate Items You Don’t Use  

If you haven’t used an item within your home  in over a year, it might be a good time to ask whether that item really has value for you and your lifestyle, or if it might be time to let go.

When donating, be thoughtful about the life cycle of your used items and where they’ll end up after you’ve disposed of them. Rather than donating all of your goods to one thrift store (where many of your donations could end up in a landfill), sort them and donate them separately to ensure that they will be useful to the organization you give them to. For example, old art supplies can go to a children’s art program, old camping gear can go to a homeless outreach program, old towels and sheets can be used by an animal shelter.

Do you have any goals for the new year related to minimalism or conscious consumerism? Leave us a comment, or join the community discussion on Instagram

Hannah Theisen