Is This the End of Minimalism?

Inside: I’ve been asked a number of times since the beginning of this global pandemic if I regret going minimalist. If the scarcity of yeast and toilet paper had me regretting my decision to clear the clutter. If this is in fact, the end of minimalism? My answer: not at all.


I couldn’t help but roll my eyes after stumbling upon an article in The Atlantic titled, The End of Minimalism. It was written by a person claiming the current pandemic has somehow proven to the world that holding on to extra magazines and t-shirts for an entire lifetime is far more prudent than learning to live with less. Take it from me, and the minimalists I know, minimalism is far from over.

The last thing I needed during our three month lock down were stacks of extra mixing bowls and dozens of mugs. I didn’t miss my jeans from college- because believe me, I certainly wasn’t getting back into those pants during quarantine. No, I missed hugging my 92-year-old grandmother, and sitting side-by-side, laughing and toasting, with my best friends. With three kids at home, it wasn’t more toys I wished for, it was a moment of silence.

I see where the author of that article is coming from though. As the world began to shut down I wondered the same thing. Have I gone too far? Have I steered people in the wrong direction? Will we as a society now begin to barter with kitchen appliances, and need our old t-shirts and furniture to fuel our fireplaces? How bad is this going to get? During the peak of the shut down, while the world held it’s breath, so did I.

As the dust begins to settle, at least for now, what does this mean for minimalism from a minimalist? Is it over?

I say, no way. I regret nothing. In fact, it was minimalism that left me better prepared for this very situation.

Let me ask you this, what happens when the stuff runs out? No matter how much you stockpile, you’re bound to run out of something. What happens when what you’ve held on to doesn’t provide the relief you thought it would?

Minimalism is a practice in resourcefulness, contentment and generosity. It allows us to realize we actually need much less than we once thought. A minimalist mindset is far more valuable than extra spatulas, expired spices, or an overflowing linen closet.

Perhaps if I had minimized our possessions down so far that we were each sleeping on wooden pallets with a rock as a pillow and a sheet for warmth, I’d have some regrets. But that’s not the kind of minimalist lifestyle the majority of us subscribe to. This isn’t about determining to live with next to nothing for the sake of claiming “minimalism.” It’s about curating a life we love and long to engage in. It’s about eliminating the excess stuff that trips us up, holds us back, and distracts us from living the life we were made to live. None of that has changed because there’s a pandemic. In fact, it’s only helped to accentuate the things we love and need most.

Let’s allow this pandemic to become a litmus test, to help us redefine with greater clarity, what is truly essential and what is not.

It’s not uncommon on the journey toward a clutter free life to find yourself stuck on, “But what if I need it someday?” when ditching the excess. This global pandemic has brought us face-to-face with the things that are actually essential in a crisis. Yes, that may even include a few extra boxes of spaghetti noodles. A back-up blow dryer however, probably isn’t one of them. This is our someday. We can stop asking “What-if?” because we lived it.

Because of our experience in quarantine, decluttering our excess stuff and becoming more conscious consumers has become easier than ever. Instead of asking, “But what if I need it someday?” we can now ask, “But did I end up needing it during that pandemic?”

If anything, this pandemic has given us a first hand look into the fragility of life as we know it, and shown us that the clutter we’ve got stock piled in our closets, storage units and basements won’t be the things that save us in the end. It wasn’t the stuff we went running for when the world began to close.  No, we simply hoped to ensure we had the food we needed, a safe place to shelter, a job to come back to, community to lean on- even if only from a distance, a good book to read, and a bit of hand sanitizer.

In my opinion, what the author of that article is lacking is actual experience living as a minimalist. Minimalism doesn’t limit you, it frees you. It’s not deprivation, but prioritization.


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13 thoughts on “Is This the End of Minimalism?

  1. Well said. It’s all about recognizing what’s necessary and what’s truly necessary. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! ☺️

  2. Yes!!! Well said!!! “If anything, this pandemic has given us a first hand look into the fragility of life as we know it, and shown us that the clutter we’ve got stock piled in our closets, storage units and basements won’t be the things that save us in the end. It wasn’t the stuff we went running for when the world began to close. No, we simply hoped to ensure we had the food we needed, a safe place to shelter, a job to come back to, community to lean on- even if only from a distance, a good book to read, and a bit of hand sanitizer.”

  3. Loved the part about not being able to get back into the jeans.

    Having 20 more tshirts does mean greater diversity, less frequency for laundry but who is going to see them, comment on them because events celebrated in college might not be the image I want to project in a Zoom meeting?

  4. You said it perfectly. Due to personal changes in my life. I have recently moved from a very large apartment to a very small one bedroom. Total of 450 SQ ft. I have been a minimalist for years, but this tested me. I now have exactly what I need, no more. My apartment is bright and airy. I kept what was essential and brought a smile to my face. Less is more, it’s the people in your life not the stuff.

  5. I had hung onto many hobby items and sports equipment that I would use “when I had time”. Well now we have more time than ever, having no children at home, and I finally realized that even if I have “time”, I’m not going to pursue those activities. For example, after I made our masks, I do not want to sew with a sewing machine any time soon. Patterns, books and fabric can be donated. I gave my bicycle to my daughter as I prefer gardening, swimming and dog walking when I have time. And those books that I held back from donations to read when I had time. Ha, out they go as well. I am a minimalist in progress and the pandemic has clarified how I really want to spend my time.

  6. What a great article. On our family’s journey to minimalism I felt like I was taking a step backward trying to store up items that were in short supply during the pandemic. And even though I have a small stock of what is essential for the moment, on the other end I have also been throwing out items that are no longer necessary. The article was well said and really hits on points that I also thought about although couldn’t quite put into words.

    1. Yes! We certainly grocery shopped a bit differently as well. But as for the clutter and excess, we didn’t miss it a bit. 🙌 And thank you for your kind words

  7. I completely agree with your views. I’m 75 years old and have always felt ( actually had drummed into my head) that it was necessary to have a backup for EVERYTHING! So during the pandemic, I did actually use up my stores of some things. As a high risk person, it was not always easy to get replacements. But NOTHING BAD ever happened! Then I had a water leak that required all of the contents of my bathroom and my bedroom closet to be piled in a heap elsewhere. Guess what? All I am really using from that closet are 4 t-shirts and 3pairs of crop pants. I’m probably not going to toss everything else, but if the closet ever gets repaired, I will be very careful of what I put back in it! Thanks, JoAnne

  8. Someday and what if have come and I never needed my 1977 college paper on “why computer coding cards may someday be extinct “. Gentle smiles
    Your article is spot on with truth and nicely written. Thank you for sharing.

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