mnmlist: rethinking necessities

Photo courtesy of brtsergio.

By Leo

One of the basics of minimalism is that you eliminate as many non-necessities as you can, to make room for what’s important.

If you don’t need a ton of clothing, you get rid of much of it. If you don’t need that new gadget, you don’t buy it. Within reason, of course.

You learn to be content with what you already have, with the necessities, with doing things you love rather than having things.

But it’s funny, because often things we assume are necessities are not necessarily so. The problem is that we categorize things as necessities because we’re used to them, and we can’t see how to live without them. And it’s difficult to make big changes.

Some examples:
  • A car. Cars are seen as necessities, but amazingly, people lived without them for quite awhile before the 20th century. Even today, some people manage to go carless. And it’s not impossible — especially if you live in a place with a decent public transportation system. And there are car sharing options now in many cities, so you can use a car when you need it, for much less than actually owning a car. It’s possible to bike and walk most places, and take public transit and shared cars everywhere else.
  • Meat. Many people believe they can’t live without steaks and burgers. And I was one of them. These days, I’m not only vegetarian, but mostly vegan. And it’s not that hard to change, if you do it slowly. It’s also healthier and better for the environment — meat and dairy animals are tremendously harmful to the environment and a huge waste of our natural resources.
  • Lots of clothes. While I don’t advocate going naked (though some do it) nor do I recommend just owning one outfit, it is possible to own less clothing than most people have. We don’t need to constantly buy clothes to stay fashionable — we can buy quality, timeless clothing, with colors and patterns chosen so that all our clothes go with each other.
  • A big house. Have less stuff, you need less house.
These are just a few examples — think about all the things you consider necessities. Are they really? What’s really needed, beyond food, shelter, basic clothing, and loved ones?