Friday, June 2, 2023

Minimalism: Why Less Isn’t (Necessarily) More

by Maria Franciss Nikole Elli | April 26, 2023

In conversations about the environment, we are taught that “going less” equates to “going green.” Reduced waste. Lower Carbon Footprint. Reduced noise pollution. 

Moreso in the context of a lifestyle dictated by minimalism, going less supposedly benefits the environment. Minimalism is defined by the Merriam Dictionary as “a style or technique (as in music, art, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.”

Indirectly, minimalism supposedly helps the environment. Decluttering and buying less leads to reduced waste. Less likelihood of using vehicles leads to fewer gas emissions thus, a lower carbon footprint and also reduced noise pollution.

However, on the question of whether minimalism is the way for you to be eco-friendly, then perhaps it’s about time you view it from a different lens.

An article from the New York Times Magazine presented a unique perspective about it, saying,there’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness.”

Arielle Bernstein of The Atlantic further expounds that the ban on clutter is a ‘privilege’ that runs counter to the value ascribed to an abundance of objects by those who have suffered from a lack of them. 

When one caves into the pitfalls of practicing minimalism for the sake of aestheticism, it becomes ironic. To be minimalist and environmentally friendly, one should ditch the push to consume more by following the trends of what passes off as “minimalist.” Instead, minimalism starts with utilizing what is currently available and declining the impulse to consume more. 

In its core, the idea of minimalism’s ban on clutter and attaining only the “necessities” to forsake all else, promises us to be free from our desires. It promises that living “less” means focusing only on self-fulfillment. And thus, more. But in fact, minimalism is just another way for us to serve our impulse of consuming more.

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