I really thought I was getting the hang of minimalism.
I’d stopped buying things I didn’t need. I didn’t let myself window shop. Everything in my rented room was there because it was useful and well-loved.
And then I had to move back in with my parents.
“Don’t worry!” I said to my mum on the phone. “I don’t really own that much stuff anymore. Most of it’s packed in my car already!” (I drive a C1, which is about as small as you can go without downsizing to a Smart Car.)
Moving day arrived, and my dad and I started moving boxes and bags of stuff downstairs. They kept coming. And coming. And coming. We filled my mum’s (bigger) car and had to shove more stuff into mine. When we got back to my parents’ there were already old belongings stored in my now-permanent bedroom.
Now, I know that minimalism isn’t always as simple as having barely any belongings at all, although that’s certainly one way to interpret it. To me, it’s about everything having a purpose and, ideally, being sustainably made and beautiful, if my budget allows.
But moving back made me realise that I’m not quite free from the traps of hoarding and consumerism. I have three baskets of beauty products that I bought ages ago, or was sent, that I’m now trying to use up before I buy new ones. I’ve got tonnes of notebooks and folders that need filling before my eye is inevitably drawn to the next ones. And I have a tonne of sentimental cards stashed away that I never really look at. Something needs to change.
Getting the hang of minimalism—again
I tried to make a plan, as I always do in times of confusion. I don’t want to go full Marie Kondo and throw out everything that doesn’t spark joy, because not everything practical is fun, and I try to declutter sustainably. So here’s what I’m doing at the moment, as I settle into a new space:
Using up old beauty products
Some of the toiletries I found were out of date, so I emptied them, cleaned the packaging, and recycled it. But some of them are still functional, so I’m working my way through them. The smaller ones have been stored together as a travel kit that I can just grab whenever I need to pack. As for buying new things, I only do so when something runs out, or I find there’s something missing from my collection. I’m terrible at remembering to apply body lotion, for example, but these fragrant, moisturising ones from WiDEYE have been a joy to use, and they’re packaged in glass containers.
Finding a purpose for old stationery
I’m always making a to-do list, jotting down reminders, working out my budget—I’m much happier writing things on paper than saving them digitally. There’s something therapeutic about getting it all scribbled down. So all my old notebooks have come out of hiding and I’m working my way through the empty pages.
I’ve also got a lot of old folders from uni, which now house various documents like my paper driving licence. I’m going to see if anyone I know needs the rest of them, as they’re in good condition and shouldn’t be discarded.
Decluttering my wardrobe
A lot of the clothes at my parents’ house were either old things that no longer fit, or clothes that I hadn’t loved enough when I moved out. Well, that speaks volumes—so everything that’s in good condition is being given to a local charity shop (one that normally needs donations at this time of year) and everything else is being taken to a textiles bank.
As for buying new clothes? It’ll only happen if there’s a gap in my wardrobe, and I’ll be looking on Depop and in charity shops before getting anything new. And I’ll be sticking to the things that feel most ‘me’: stripy tops, oversize jumpers, skinny jeans, midi dresses, and boots.
A new approach
I’m sure I’ll get into the swing of things again eventually. I thought the three categories above would be a good place to start, and then I’ll move on to dealing with trickier items (for me, that’s books and sentimental possessions).
How are you getting the hang of minimalism, if it’s something you’re interested in? Do you find yourself decluttering a lot? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin. Always thinking about my next meal.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!