Why I became a minimalist is a question I often get asked. And it’s not always easy to explain, particularly to those who’ve never heard of minimalism. Or when I tell them that it all came about because of a bottle of vinegar!
It started when my daughter first shared that she no longer bought chemical cleaning products! Apparently cleaning with vinegar and baking soda was a growing trend.
So where had I been?? Oh yeah, here in the Land of Tradition, where folks still do things basically as their
mothers grandmothers had for decades!
This was all new to me, and frankly I was baffled. So I started researching, and thus began my journey as a Greenie. Up to that point I’d had no idea how harmful chemicals are. And shocked at what I’d learned, I started working toward a chemical-free home.
Then I noticed that a lot of these natural trends also linked to Minimalism.
Another unknown to me, and a crazy one at that! Perhaps because of all the wild things I read. Like the man who had to use his neighbor’s bathroom because he had downsized too much! Or folks that stopped buying toilet paper!
Now, I’m all for helping neighbors in need, but not because they decided they didn’t want a bathroom! And it’s OK with me if you don’t want toilet paper, just let me know before I visit!
But mostly I learned that many environmental issues stem from our consumerist culture.
Manufacturing always creates pollution and waste to some degree, and consumes natural resources. And much of it is for unnecessary merchandise and useless baubles! At the rate we’re going, what kind of world will that leave for future generations?
All this started a huge process in my heart and mind, especially my heart. I realized I had often shopped just to shop, not out of real need, even spending money we couldn’t really spare. WHY? Good question, and I needed answers!
I learned that advertising plays a big part in it.
Advertisers get paid to make us want to buy stuff. And they do a great job! But it’s sad when we become convinced to buy things we don’t need or can’t afford, and sometimes won’t even want around for long!
I also found that store displays purposely entice us to buy.
Retailers even rent shelf space based on position. Shelves at eye level go for premium prices because we’re more likely to choose from them. And of course those products usually cost more!
Another important factor seemed to be peer pressure.
We often compare ourselves to others, even without realizing it. And their seemingly better clothes, newer cars, and finer homes, often make us want stuff we don’t need.
But A.W. Tozer helped me see the root of the problem.
There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. (AW Tozer, The Pusuit of God)
What it really boiled down to was a simple lack of contentment.
I had everything, literally everything I needed. Plenty of clothes, nice furnishings, and so much stuff I couldn’t keep track of it or fit it in. I certainly didn’t need more!
So I decided I didn’t want to spend my days chasing after useless stuff. Especially because as a Christ-follower, I have a higher calling.
- I want to view possessions as useful tools, not my source of happiness.
- I want true contentment, realizing and remembering that God has already met all my needs.
- And I want to cultivate a heart possessed by God, not a fierce passion for mere stuff.
So I started thinking through not only what I own but what I buy, and why.
- Do I really need it?
- Is it really useful?
- Will I want to keep it long term?
- Do I feel it’s necessary to my happiness and contentment?
- And if I don’t need it, could that money go for better things?
Often I decide to keep the money for a rainy day, or use it to help others. I’ve wasted so much over the years on useless stuff. Most of which has come and gone. Stuff that only gave a temporary satisfaction.
But unexpected problems or emergencies will always pop up. Needy people will always surround me. And the satisfaction of knowing that I can meet real needs brings a lasting pleasure and real joy.
Now don’t you agree that’s a lot better than buying stuff we don’t need?
But excuse me now, I’ve got to shopping. I’m low on vinegar!