The Minimalist Approach to Slow Living

By Leziga Barikor

Being a minimalist in many ways can become a narrow goal until you incorporate the idea of slow living. Minimalism and de-cluttering are challenging pursuits, but if you’re committed you can get them done. But once they are done, it can hard to keep up the motivation to maintain your minimalist space.

This is where slow living comes in.

What is slow living?

The pursuit of slow living is very close to simple living and has been going on around the world for ages. Some people point to lives of Jesus or John the Baptists as examples of minimalism by living nomadic lives with few possessions. From the church to secular philosophers, the idea of living simply is hardly a new concept.

I think one thing that has become slightly new is the trend of minimalism as its own pursuit. Marie Kondo’s highly successful book was merely the tip of the iceberg brewing in the blog-sphere surrounding minimalism and tidying up. But the idea of minimalism was never meant to exist outside of a broader perspective of changing your lifestyle holistically.

A slow living lifestyle is the difference between minimalism to get your house clean or as interior design and minimalism to change the way you live and consume products. It is choosing to live with less in every area not to deprive yourself, but as a way accepting and acknowledging you don’t need a lot. Especially in Western countries, we all have so many basic needs provided for so why do we keep buying more?

Slow living invites people to live in constant awareness and thankfulness for what we already have. In contrast, living in constant pursuit of more, bigger and better means consuming faster than we even have time to appreciate.

How do you slow down your lifestyle?

Once you can see slow living as the natural foundation to practicing minimalism, it then becomes a question of how does slow living apply to my life besides minimalism?

First slow living requires assessing how you currently live your life in the areas of time and attention. How much time do you spend thinking about what you don’t have or what you want? How much attention do you give to things that don’t matter to you or the life you’re trying to build? Do you even pause to reflect on the type of life you are leading? Basically the first step is practicing mindfulness in your daily life.

Slow living can also be called intentional living. Then it’s no surprise that from Henry David Thoreau to Bon Iver that time spent living in simple conditions leads to much introspection and fantastic art. You can’t passively live your life with intention. So ask yourself some hard questions. Maybe a good first one is how busy are you?

It may be hard to see yourself as passively living your life if you always think of yourself as busy. But even when I was at my busiest working, studying at college and volunteering, I still had a lot of time and opportunities I let go by passively. A free moment spent on social media or money spent on snacks I didn’t need. Nothings wrong with those things in themselves, but their only purpose was to pass time. Filling time just for time’s sake isn’t intentional, it’s just wasteful.

Minimalism for slow living life style blog green graphic with tree on green wall

The minimalist and simple living

The connection between minimalism and simple living are so close it can almost be seen as interchangeable. To live simply is to apply minimalism to your largest asset in life — time.

You may have heard it before, but it can never be overemphasized that life is short and unpredictable as we’ve all learned with the recent world events. Outside of your adolescence, you are given more and more control with how you use your time. How long would you want to keep scrolling through social media if you knew your tomorrow wasn’t coming?

Maybe that’s a bit dark, but on the opposite side of the spectrum what would you be pursuing if you had all the time and resources in the world? I still don’t think you’d be aspiring to hit refresh just one more time in that scenario either.

Using minimalist practices on your time is the best way to get close to achieving even a little bit of the goals you may have for yourself. Can you turn off your phone for a few hours? Pause your latest TV show binge? Or maybe you don’t even know where to begin finding all the time you don’t think you have?

One of the best ways to see where your time actually goes is to track it. You can find many time trackers online that go from hourly to every 15-30 minutes. Time tracking is the minimalist equivalent of taking all the items from your rooms and cupboards to see what really belongs and what you can do without.

Now the best time to time track is going to be when your life is most “normal” so possibly on a Monday through Wednesday during a regular week. Not during an appointment filled week or holiday season. Even in this social distancing time period, you’ve probably built up a routine within this madness that’s similar to your usual routine. I think it’s easy to try and save this for a “Saturday project” when you have more time, but what you really need is a fresh record of how you actually lived your life in at least a couple of days.

Now doing an honest time tracking sheet is important, but don’t get mad at yourself about it. Spending three hours watching “The Office” isn’t always a bad thing and does not make you a bad person. More likely you’ll find that your free time is filled with activities that you find quite satisfying in the moment. For me that can be a lot of YouTube videos. The next objective isn’t to simply get rid of everything you do enjoy, but to leave space for change.

For deciding what to cut out of your schedule, take the time to think and reflect over what you would like to do with your time. Maybe it’s easier for you to just attribute a positive or a negative sign to an activity. Or if you want to go deeper about your habits ask yourself these questions and maybe journal about it:

  • How is this benefiting me?
  • Is this in anyway harming me?
  • How do I feel after this activity?
  • What’s something I’ve wanted to do but never felt I had the time to?
  • Why do I spend time on this?
  • Is this to avoid boredom or silence?
  • Do I like even like this?

Consider what activities you want to still be a part of your life and make a new schedule that includes that in much smaller doses. What I recommend is going through your time track sheets and calculate loosely or specifically how much time is spent on unnecessary activities (not work or basic life necessity related). Then see if you can dedicate at least half of that extra time to one new hobby and more intentionally spend time with your usual hobbies. What to do with the other portion of your newly found free time? Here’s an idea — nothing.

Well not just nothing, but especially for people who feel constantly busy and may not have that much time even with cutting down on activities they find to be a net negative it can be really freeing to see time in your schedule for you to do nothing.

For other people, you may categorize a lot of the activities you filled your time tracker with as habits that you may not want to continue or engage in with more moderation. Maybe you’ll find limiting some habits give you more time to accomplish things you usually don’t get around to doing. Simple living in itself is a habit that needs to be developed and honed to start doing more of what you actually love and less of what you simply tolerate.

Now in all honesty, I know this applies much differently for people with families especially with young children. But there’s still plenty of slow living resources out there, if you’re interested in finding out how to make that work for your specific situation.

What does living simply mean?

Another major component to living simply is gratitude. Minimalists realize that when you are appreciative for the things you currently have, you no longer desire to purchase more things.

The best benefit to simple living is a higher sense of gratitude for your daily life. Living in constant pursuit of the next weekend or vacation isn’t much of a life. Simple living allows you to maximize your days, so that they don’t feel wasted. An hour spent doing something you really enjoy versus doing something mindless will have immediate benefits to your day.

And by pursuing slow living, you are committing to a process on the journey of life. It makes minimalism less of a monthly chore and more of a reflection of the person you are. You don’t just have less things, you enjoy what you do have more. It’s not something you’ll get perfect overnight, but that’s okay because you’re changing slowly.

If you feel like you’re failing, it’s okay I’m failing too. But once you get started, you’ll be surprised to see how much you can accomplish. I hope you keep reading, so we can make progress together.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Capsule Wardrobe for the Fashionable Minimalist

How to know when to shift your capsule wardrobe

By Leziga Barikor

So you’ve already completed your journey of minimalism and have an amazing capsule wardrobe. Your life feels less hectic, and your closet is finally order. But as the seasons change, and your life changes too, you might begin to question the reliable of your capsule wardrobe.

Maybe you don’t even see it as that. Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself using less and less of your clothes and doing your laundry more and more. Perhaps the old shopaholic twinge suddenly goes into overdrive now whenever you see a new trend piece. You may push the thought away and remind yourself how French women didn’t become style icons through following trends.

But these all may be signs that your capsule wardrobe has now reached time-capsule status. Simply old memories of the fashionista turned minimalist that you used to know.

Maybe it’s time to bring your shopping totes out of retirement.

Sparks Joy? The New Closet Purge

You might’ve already realized that you needed to re-Marie Kondo your closest, but depending on your lifestyle that can still be a difficult process all over again. Me being ever the early adopter, created my capsule wardrobe in 2016 before starting my sophomore year of college. I’ve always loved fashion, but I loved it even more as I recognized people consistently giving me compliments on outfits they’d already seen me wear!

If you’re still new to minimalism and the whole capsule wardrobe idea, let me assure you it definitely works. No one notices that you only have 2 pairs of jeans and 4 rotating tops. They’re far too busy worried about their own appearances. But after merely three years with my own wardrobe, I’ve begun to recognize a lack of love for my old go-to items.

That was just one tell-tale sign that things needed to go a new route. Along with big life changes (hello graduation!), job changes and natural wear and tear, it was clear I’d let my small wardrobe once again turn into a huge hassle. Here’s a list of questions to ask while you consider purging through your own capsule wardrobe.

  • What clothes do you avoid wearing?
  • What has the most visible signs of wear and tear?
  • Has your figure change?
  • Has your career/lifestyle changed?
  • Do you even like it anymore?
  • Was this a maybe item you still hadn’t gotten rid of?
  • Has your taste/color pallet changed?

After you go through and find all the items that you no longer want in your capsule wardrobe, set them aside for donation or trash if they’re not resalable.

Get in loser, you’re going shopping!

Does it make me a bad minimalist to enjoy shopping, even a little? If you’ve ever questioned that, rest assured its less the action of accumulating things and more the experience of something new. The best part of a good capsule wardrobe is it allows you to try new outfit ideas often without buying new things. But if you’re jeans got a little too tight or baggy, then it’s time to treat yourself to something new again.

I did my best to mainly subtract and fill gaps when it came to having base clothing. The basic white tee and blue jeans haven’t failed me yet. But my far too trustee green jeans just weren’t looking as bright as they used to. Take this time to really plan out what you want to wear and subsequently buy. Remember that you only need to fill in gaps left by getting rid of your main items whether it’s a new office blouse or a nicer pair of slacks.

If you decided your statement pieces or accent colors are too outdated for your tastes, this is the perfect opportunity to redefine your style. Try out new colors in the changing room. Remember the rule of versatility and basics. Don’t get sucked into whatever the current trend is, but if you do find something trendier catches your eye don’t be afraid to see how you could incorporate it long term.

Sustainability for life and your lifestyle

One great natural benefit to minimalism is that it allows you to lower your carbon footprint by consuming less and throwing away less. But it can be easy to get sucked into a self- sacrificing pit of holding on to things far too long just for the sake of not throwing things away.

I am not living a zero waste lifestyle currently, but I commend those who do. It’s a worthwhile long-term goal as a global citizen of planet earth. Sometimes despite our best efforts, the journey of personal style discovery isn’t a straight line. Even though I essentially crafted my capsule wardrobe three years ago, I’ve added and subtracted different types of dresses in the mix. Why? One reason is I love dresses, and find it difficult to attend multiple major life events wearing the same one. But I’ve also switched career paths and gone from a student to young professional which necessitates some wardrobe changes.

Your personal style is just that. Personal. So taking the time to figure it out may not be as sustainable as you would like in the moment, but it will get there once you do. Being honest with yourself during the process will help as you can be quicker to donate or possibly gift items gently used so they get another chance.

You should also take responsibility for your shopping habits when it comes to human trafficking. At this point, it’s textbook knowledge that the people working on your iPhones are working in conditions so mentally horrible that suicide is a common workplace occurrence, but don’t let other brands fool you into thinking that’s simply an Apple problemConsider shopping secondhand consignment, locally or from sustainable brands who are clear about their business practices.

The beauty of minimalism isn’t just for what it does for you in simplifying your life. But it’s the beauty in what it fights against. Fast fashion and consumerism culture has a negative global impact, but your choice to step out of that absolutely matters and has an impact too.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Sustainability in used goods

By Leziga Barikor

The question of sustainability in making purchasing decisions has grown more in popularity among consumers. There are many different options in this expanding market, but the classic option will always be shopping for used goods. This can also be the most cost effective because new sustainable brands tend to lean towards more expensive with the cost of making products using recycled material and to fairly compensate labor.

Used goods are now more easy to access than ever. The resources that used to be primarily limited by location are now available online as well.

See our conversation about thrift shopping here.

Purpose of secondhand shopping

There is great potential for thrift shopping and secondhand purchasing to be sustainable.

Shopping local

Going local to shop can be the best option for most people. Online shopping will still have the expense of paying the cost of shipping. Here are some guidelines to help make the most of shopping for used goods locally.

Salvation Army

The well known Salvation Army has many potential benefits to using because their programs are locally based. Shopping at the Salvation Army is a way to lesson waste and invest locally into the community. They are spread all over the world and their website can be used to find nearest stores.

Goodwill

They are very similar to the Salvation Army in mode and meaning. They run community programs as well as having thrift store and donation centers.

Consignment Shops

These are slightly different from the above because local consignment shops are more likely to curate items. This is where the sustainability issue becomes more prevalent. It is up to the people making donations to cull through their items, and it is easier at bigger consignment shops to just make mass donations of items that may not even be usable.

Places like Plato’s Closet or other local chains who offer to buy gently used items are careful to choose items that have reuse value. Without this added burden, it becomes easier to avoid mass disposals of unwanted/used items.

But it is still up to the consumer or donation giver to do their homework and figure out how to properly discard of items that are no longer fit for donation or make sure that the store they are selling their items to have a record of recycling left over items as opposed to ultimately throwing them away.

Shopping online

Although their may be some additional costs to shopping secondhand online, there are new added benefits in options. These are some of the best options.

Facebook Market, eBay, ect.

The online market of selling and reselling items is growing vastly. Some key popular sites have been eBay and Craigslist. But Facebook Market which targets those who are already browsing their website has a lot of potential to be bigger than any of the long-standing ones.

For better or worse, people do trust Facebook as a platform a great deal. There’s just about anything on the Facebook Market a person could want, and since people are posting these items with accounts it leaves an online digital trail that is far more substantial.

It’s the closest to an online flea market as users are selling to other users and anonymity is replaced for the causal web interaction. And like Craigslist, user can choose between local and far listings depending on how far they want to go for their new used items.

ThredUP

This online consignment shop allows customers to purchase and sell their clothing items to them directly. They often run sales and have features like clothing boxes for people interested in trying multiple items at once. They are also committed to changing the fashion industry and are working on a Circular Fashion Fund non-profit to help fund more sustainable fashion practices.

PoshMark

In a unique category of its own is Poshmark. The site boast two billion and 25 million uploads. This is a social commerce site that allows people to buy and sell new to used clothing and accessories.

Social media is the main marketing tool for people trying to sell on Poshmark. Unlike places like thredUP the marking and selling of items is all on the users.

For people who may be nervous about buying online and buying secondhand online especially, Poshmark puts a lot of its stock in verifying items and protecting both buyers and sellers from dis-satisfactory transactions.

Shop less

Ultimately the best way to be sustainable in purchasing decisions is to make the decision to purchase items less. It will take a lot of time for this to make an impact, but consumers must communicate to the fast fashion industry and those related that not every season is a reason to shop.

The less money put into the industry, the less incentive they have to continue to spin out the same quantity of items at a high rate.

Not only is the option the most cost friendly, it can help foster deeper gratitude. A shift from the mindset of wanting more to having what is already there will naturally foster gratefulness.

Check out these latest posts!