Documentary: Objectified – this is a documentary about design, but it strongly relates to minimalism. Some of the world’s leading designers (like Dieter Rams, my favorite!) talk about sustainability and how good design can lead to products you love to use for decades or even generations.
Book: I finally read 10% Happier by Dan Harris and I am putting my skepticism aside to try meditation. I have been extremely hesitant about it and the whole mindfulness trend, but looking at it merely as an exercise for the brain, rather than as a religious practice, has motivated me to give it a go. The most interesting thing about this book for me is that I was about 60% of the way in before I got really interested. I was fully prepared to write this off as hype for the first half and only continued reading out of habit, but I am glad I did.
Clothing: I combined money received for my birthday to get some MUD jeans. This company has an incredible commitment to sustainability. They can be returned after ANY amount of use to be recycled, and you can get a new pair. You can also swap them for a different style or size, or send them back to be repaired by MUD. The goal of this company is to ensure that the clothing they produce never ends up in a landfill.
Film: I watched Okja on Netflix, and it was an incredible film with a powerful message. I can’t praise this enough. The locations and filming were beautiful, the acting was incredible, good CG, and it was a lot more fair and nuanced than many films that deal with animal rights. The only downside is that made me very sad, but only because of how realistic the storyline is. I won’t spoil it, but the ending is neither entirely good nor entirely bad.
Humans: A new set of Maori words has been created to describe mental and physical health. They are beautiful and non-judgemental, which is a positive direction to take in describing issues that have been taboo for most of human history.
YouTube Channel: Journeyman Pictures touches a range of subjects from off grid living, to sustainability, to over-reliance on prescription drugs, to human stories from around the world, always shot and edited in a beautiful way.
YouTube Channel: These aren’t new channels to me, but Living Big In A Tiny Home and Exploring Alternatives have a fantastic collection of people’s stories from living in tiny apartments, houses, cabins, vans, tents, houseboats, earthships etc. There are so many great ways to live in this world, and with ongoing serious talks about providing good global internet, humanity is set to become a lot more mobile again.
Food & Drink: An Argentinian friend introduced me to Mate a few years ago but I never really got the hang of making it at home due to the annoyance of cleaning out a gourd. Now that has changed, I picked up this fantastic Mate thermos from Meta Mate in Berlin and I not enjoying a smoky Number 42 almost every day!
Education: There is still time to enroll in this free online course about ethical fashion.
Garden: Our spinach is growing! The first little buds popped out this morning. We now have (in progress) tomatoes, garlic, basil, carrots, and spinach. Next plant, chili peppers!
Book: Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching, and Darning by Raleigh Briggs. This is like a graphic novel of sewing, a fantastic and engaging way to show people how to mend their clothing. The Kindle edition is under 3 EUR, so it’s also very affordable!
(I am reading and re-reading a bunch of minimalism books recently and will release a minimalist reading list soon-ish)
Buying in Bulk
These days I buy my staples in bulk, whether it’s tea, rice, toilet paper or cat food. Buying in bulk not only saves you money but reduces packaging and transportation, making it a much greener option. I know some minimalists who refuse to carry or store more than they immediately need, but I disagree with this for several reasons. Not only is bulk more sustainable but it serves a practical purpose. My city has strongly advised citizens to keep 10 days of food and water in their home at all times because that is the amount of time they have forecasted it will take to restore order after a natural or man-made disaster. Simple preparation can save you a lot of stress if you live in an area that may be at risk of earthquakes, flooding etc.
Minimalism has given me more time to read and more money to support the authors I love. Currently my Amazon wishlist – which used to be full of clothing, handbags, and gadgets – contains only Kindle books. A good book adds tremendous value to my life, but the same could be said about video games or movies. I happen to be a minimalist that is passionate about books, but you could be a minimalist that is passionate about indie games or anime or photography. Minimalism helps you focus in on the thing(s) that give you real happiness.
In my old life, my paycheck was used up buying clothing or ‘stuff’ that I could show off. There was very little left to spend on practical things. Now I invest better in my home, the most recent example being high-quality blinds for my windows. They help regulate temperature, keeping us cool in the summer and warm in the winter! It might be a bit boring to talk about blinds, but they really make my home a more comfortable place to live, which contributes a lot more to my overall happiness than a new pair of shoes!
I remember the days when I had a new outfit in my closet, but no money to go out and show it off! Now I have less clothing but I go out every week and visit museums, parks, and restaurants. Studies have shown that it is human nature to compare our material possessions with others, but experience can not be so easily compared. For this reason, experiences bring us more long term satisfaction than a material purchase.
Setting up our new home is almost done, so by September I will be able to start putting a good chunk of money away each month towards my long term goal of buying a boat and spending my (early) retirement sailing around the world.
Check out my previous post The Things I Stopped Buying