Extreme minimalism is regular minimalism on (anti)steroids.
How many pairs of shoes or pants do you need to get through the week? Could you live without having a tablet, a laptop, and a mobile phone? Could you downsize your kitchen to only the base essentials, which don’t include a KitchenAid Mixer, a Keurig, and bread machine? What do you need to live? Not want, but need? Does the idea of shedding the excess stuff in your life appeal to you? Have you asked yourself these questions before, or do these questions scare the crap out of you?
The concept of minimalism has certainly been a lifestyle response since humans invented suburban middle-class consumerism and shopping malls. There have always been some folks who eschewed the mainstream consumer culture and boiled life down to determining what was necessary in the way of possessions--and what was not.
Now there is extreme minimalism. The Japanese even have a word for it: they call it “minimarisuto” and the BBC recently released a photo study of how some in Japan are interpreting the lifestyle.
While many are all for downsizing and minimizing the stuff in their lives, the concept of extreme minimalism seems like a harder sell. Of course, we can all get behind zero-waste adherents and other minimalist proponents who highlight the environmental impact of all this stuff we accumulate. As a lifestyle choice, though, extreme minimalism seems more like a fetish. It certainly is a judgement call, but the people featured in the BBC photo essay seem to be depriving themselves of comforts that don’t seem at all to be outlandish or ostentatious choices. While it certainly makes makes to limit what we consider to be the comforts of life, certainly a soft chair or a bed aren’t outside that definition?
What Do You Think?
In an effort to better understand and not judge--especially choices that are made to adhere to a more sustainable lifestyle--I do have to wonder about the message extreme minimalism sends to some. I am talking about those humans who are still driving super SUVs and live in MacMansions in the face of what we know about climate change. Those folks must be completely baffled by the extreme minimalist lifestyle. Others will still seek to appreciate the concept because we are trying to do our part to save the future of human beings on the planet and to create a more meaningful life.
What do you think? Is extreme minimalism a worthy goal and does it appeal to you or not?
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Chair in an Empty Room Image via Shutterstock