I’ve spent much of the year cultivating a “less is more” attitude. Less stuff, more happiness. Less stuff, more money in my pocket. Less technology, more time to enjoy life.
There’s just one problem with following a “less is more” mantra.
Not everyone does it.
In fact, most people don’t. For every person who is trying to consume less, simplify and truly live more, there are 10 people who seek to buy more stuff, buy bigger stuff, and consume everything and anything.
Why get a 12 oz beverage when you can get 32 oz for just $1 more? If one kitchen gadget is good, maybe you should buy another to keep as a spare. Love that new pair of sandals? Buy a pair in every color! Oh, it’s time for back-to-school shopping? Time to buy all new backpacks and lunch boxes even though there’s nothing wrong with last year’s stuff.
When everyone around you is caught up in the need to buy things and spend money, it makes it really, really hard to change your consumerist ways. It’s hard to resist splurging when you spot a great sale because so many others are buying. It’s hard to resist splurging when all you see are advertisements on TV and in magazines and online telling you to “Buy now!” It’s hard to change your habits when you are surrounded by a culture of consumerism.
And it’s hard when so many people show their love for others through stuff. You know what I’m talking about: Family members who buy the kids’ a ton of toys, significant others who insist on giving large vases of flowers, and businesses who feel they need to win you over with pens, magnets, travel mugs, and can koozies.
How do you break the cycle of consumerism? How do you help others follow the idea that less is more?
You have to start by setting an example. The little things you do every day matter. If you want to give gifts, give consumables (like food items or bath soaps). Make do with what you have. Recycle and upcycle. Buy things secondhand. Resist buying things that have an excessive amount of packaging or unmanageable upkeep. Only buy what you truly love, can honestly afford, and that has a purpose in your life.
Instead of buying stuff, focus on experiences. And share those experiences with those you love. Focus on making connections with people. It’s about discovering that happiness lies within. Once others see how freeing the “less is more” mantra can be, they will start to adopt more minimalist ways in their lives, too.
If consumerism is catching, perhaps non-consumerism can catch on, too. I already know a few people that are embracing it well – like Madeleine who wrote the book All You Need is Less and Katy from The Non-Consumer Advocate. If more of us work together, we can make a difference – not just in the amount of clutter in our homes and money in our wallets – but in the type of world we live in.
Who’s with me?