I Can’t Become A Minimalist
Copyright 2016 by Lori-Ann Willey
MINIMALIST - I have a friend who is one, and I applaud her GREATLY! I had never heard of the word, but she summed it up in just one sentence! She said that if they decided to move, they could pack up all their belongings in one vehicle. Instantly, I looked up from where I sat and looked around, and then, I muttered, "Holy Shit". Though she did not see me, I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief, and then, thought to myself, "Here we are living in the woods, and look at all this stuff”. Off the grid ...a simplistic life of its own …but with a lot of stuff! I collect things, because of how we live, I never know when I may need something. I have become masterful (almost) at the art of recycling, reusing, and repurposing. I CAN do without so much of this stuff, but yet again, there are those three R's. Every direction I look in, I see where I reuse, recycle, repurpose. As a matter of fact, so many things here are three R’d so many times that I don’t think I can ever keep track of them all. The three R’s is my forte, so to speak. So, why does the thought of being a Minimalist intrigue me so?
Some people define being a Minimalist as owning 100 items or less. I glance over at my painting table and think, “I must have close to 100 paint brushes alone, never mind all those tubes of paint.” Instantly, the thought of becoming a Minimalist was a bit discouraging. How many of those brushes do I actually NEED? My first thought was, “all of them …and more”. I can make almost any color from just 5 different colors, yet, I have at least 30 of one kind alone. OY! I can do better.
In one of the sheds, I bet I have at least 50 empty plastic gallon milk jugs, and those take up a lot of room, yet I keep them, because come planting season, they’ll be filled with water and set around my plants to help keep them warmer during the colder nights in the spring. When one cracks, I use them in another way. I have about another 50 jugs cut in half. The bottoms are used to house transplants and their tops with the open end? I use those to set over plants as somewhat of an individual greenhouse for each cold sensitive garden plant. In all fairness, those jugs, whole or halved, have been used for years! Actually, I have used some of them for 15 years!
Tools? Do we need bags and boxes of tools? Paul says yes. I think otherwise. He can say the same thing about my paints, I’m sure. Wooden spoons? Yes, I could get rid of a few of those, Gallon glass jars, too. But, I reuse those things all the time. Clothes? I could get away with ridding all but a couple comfy pants and shirts, but come winter, I need more than just a couple of each, boots, too, as each serves a purpose and have different uses. Maine is not the climate to test your hardiness. We need bodily protection, and options, too.
The areas where I could easily become a Minimalist is with drinking vessels. I have used the same coffee cup for years, Paul, too, so why do we have at least 10 here? When I buy a bottle of water, I reuse that bottle until it literally needs to be recycled …I’m talking months of daily use. Then, when it is time to get another, I usually cut it in half and use the top half as a funnel specific to a task, and the bottom half becomes another transplant pot. Any that do not get reused, recycled or repurposed go to our daughter so she can return them for a few dollars here and there. However, I bet more of them get reused, recycled, repurposed here at camp than she takes. My hats …Ima Hat Lovah, but I have several that I do not wear. Seasonings, herbs, and spices …well, we cook a lot, so will keep those, and more, too. I am actually tripling my herb garden this year!
Plain and simple, I do not like waste of any sort. I’ll use something to death, and then, wonder how I can use it again in some other way. Though, while I love the idea of being a Minimalist, I do not live the lifestyle that is applicable for one. However, I do live the lifestyle of being very efficient for those three R’s …and if you forgot -Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose. As I typed that, I looked away from my laptop monitor, and as my fingers kept moving with thought, everything I saw straight ahead of me is being reused, recycled, repurposed. And, many of them going on their dozenth use …at least. I have to smile at that, and then scowl at how cluttered it all looks to others, but then, that brings me to yet another topic …style. I have my own and it stems from the three R’s! WOO HOO!
I know of people who live their lives by “style” that is specific to them. Everything is themed and those themes are changed monthly. Everything matches either in color, style, shape, etc. Some would NEVAH-EVAH reuse a creamer container, an empty Equal carton, varying styles of bottles, jars, or cans, but I do. I have 10 jars or bottles of infused cooking oils, 2 oils that are not meant for consumption, 2 jars of oil/vinegar for salads, too. OK, so I could use fewer oils, and stick with just one kind. I agree, but those flavors greatly make or break a meal.
With all that said, I can honestly smile and be thankful that I have the ability to use those three R’s to my advantage, for the benefit of our landfills, and for future generations, too. Living here without a way to dispose of our trash except for taking it two hours south for trash pick-up at our house, I have learned how to nearly perfect those three R’s to my advantage. I can also honestly say that I don’t think I have purchased 100 items (non-food) since we bought our camp in 2004, either. So, in a way, I have become a “Minimalist” in my own way. I will not just toss a bunch of excesses away “just because”. Instead, I use them until their intended purpose is obsolete, and then, I will find other uses for them.
I could care less about how something looks or if this matches that, or that, or that, or even what others think. I do not live out of a Better Homes and Garden magazine, but here in the woods where I am very, very content. I even recycle, reuse, and repurpose our food scraps, our urine, AND our poops! Compost, compost, compost, and then, into the garden, and then into our bellies as food stuff. I don’t, however, tend to reuse tin cans. That is why I say that I nearly perfected the three R’s.
I know of people who are “above” composting. They think it is the way of poor people. To them, it is an “image” thing and refuse to consider that it is a future thing for their kids or grandkids. I have literally heard one man say, “If I compost, then, my neighbor will think we are poor”. These people live in a $350,000.00 home. They are the same people who live out of magazine pictures. I shake my head, but that is their life. I live mine so people in the future can live a better life, too. We live in such a Throw Away and Materialistic world. It is sad, and scary to think what will become of our future. I am nearing that 50-year mark, and in my lifetime, I’ve seen a whole lot of change. Some I like. Some I don’t.
What prompted this blog entry? As mentioned before, I have this friend. She and her husband are Minimalists. It took just one evening to move from one home to another. The next day (today), she posted pictures of her new house all set up. She moved in, has things upon her walls, shelves, etc. It looks very comfortable, inviting, and homey …in just one day. I am very envious of that! It would take me a day just to pack my kitchen! With all the stuff we have due to our lifestyle and location, becoming a Minimalist is impossible. However, I can rid some things …admittance is the first step in recovery, right?
For those people who are Minimalists, my hat goes off to you a hundred fold. I applaud your ways, and in a way, envy them. We need more people like you, my friend. We also need more people to think outside the box, to look away from dream-like pictures in magazines. To me, it is not a money or no money thing. I can afford to buy whatever I want, but WHY buy something if I can reuse something instead? In my mind, if something breaks, I wonder how much of it I can salvage and use in other ways. Unfortunately, with the poor quality of goods being sold today, breaking or not working is a major concern. Even I can only reuse, recycle, repurpose so much, and at my own pace. Unfortunately, too, if I were of the obsessive type, due to poor quality products, those three R’s would be a full-time job these days! I, for one, do not live in a “Throw Away” world.
It is the time that people really need to stop and think, “Am I bettering the human race, or hurting it?”