Taking our first steps into minimalism

In the past month we have given away or sold 50% of our possessions. To understand the reasoning behind this, let’s first look at the why.

In June of 2018 we had a moment of realisation while snorkelling in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia. We’d spotted a sea turtle and watched as it went about its business looking for a mid-afternoon snack. The serene scene soon turned to realisation of just how big the global problem of over-consumption was when it began to nibble on a plastic bag followed by a used nappy.

As we docked in the port, we noticed a huge mound of burning rubbish – unwanted possessions cast away that loomed over the village of Labuan Bajo. The experience marked a step change in our lives. We made a vow to no longer contribute to the landfills, to the swirling plastic islands floating across our oceans and to the short-term consumption-dopamine loop.

Since we returned from that trip we’ve done all we can to reduce waste – asking for no straws with our drinks, drinking from a reusable coffee cup in work every day and taking turtle bags to the supermarket.

Two years on, these small green shoots have turned into something bigger. Prior to our recent house move, we decided to sort through all of our possessions and sell or give away everything we’d not used in a year that was not sentimental. As we rifled through the wardrobes and boxes, each journey to the charity shop or session adding items to eBay cleared out a little more space in our house and our minds.

The process became addictive and we began to feel genuine excitement as more items were packaged and sent out. The significant reduction in items we own has led to more clarity in our life plan, day to day enjoyment of our house and freedom.

Many of the unwanted possessions were duplicates of things we already owned or trends that were once hot. A quote from NYT bestselling author Dave Ramsay perfectly illustrates why we accumulated them: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

If we no longer cared about what the Jones’, our family, friends and colleagues thought about how well we were doing, the need to consume evaporates. We are now content with what we have, in fact we feel hugely fortunate to have what we do. Everything additional is unwanted noise.

We have broken free from the shackles of consumerism and an unexpected benefit is it has improved our relationship as we are now working toward another common goal.

Following our house move, I’ve noticed that we’ve still placed multiple boxes in the loft, marked ‘not necessary at the moment’. Clearly we are on a journey and there is still a long way to go, but we are enjoying every moment. Rampant consumerism must stop for the good of our planet, and we’re proud to be doing our little bit to help.

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