I can go months and months and months without talking about minimalism in real life. But it seems like when I finally do talk about it, it keeps coming up.
Which is fine. I like a soapbox. Especially when I’m the one who’s on it. 😉
I’ve noticed that I have two conversations about minimalism these days: Those who know about my tendencies and want to talk about their own journeys, and those who bring it up as “This is something I’ve been thinking about” and are excited when I tell them I am one.
When I first started my journey, I had to answer questions like, “Do you have furniture?” or “Sure, you’re doing it, but what does your FAMILY think?” It didn’t seem very mysterious to me — less stuff, yay! — but it apparently struck everyone else as an enigmatic exercise in futility.
I mean, I get it. It was 2012. It was a fringe movement. There’s been a lot more focus on the minimalist and zero waste fronts in the past couple of years and that’s made it a lot less scary to the general public, I think. People have at least heard about it now. The logistics of the thing aren’t really what I’m being asked about anymore.
Now, it’s people telling me how they shop secondhand or bring a water bottle when they go out or how frustrating decluttering a room can be. And I get to say, yeah, I hear you.
It’s a nice change of pace.
A list of recent conversations: One at the grocery store with Johanna’s seventh grade robotics coach; another at a picnic with someone I’ve known since I was 9; at the dentist office; and a rare fact-to-face visit with my dear friend Shannon (hi Shannon!).
The robotics coach was frustrated with her decluttering efforts (“Have you heard of KonMarie?” she asked) and we talked about how it takes years to accumulate, but we think we can somehow get rid of a houseful of belongings in an afternoon. I told her the difficulty in removing items is actually an important part of the process — it means you’ll think about how you’re going to get rid of any new items you bring in on the front end. She was not excited to hear that but said it made sense.
We also talked the Minimalists (“What do you think of those guys?” she asked). I’m a fan of anyone who helps bring the gospel of minimalism to the people and make it palatable (whether or not their style is my jam).
I told the family friend that Eric was actually the one who packed the reusable plates, cutlery and napkins for the picnic we were attending (I made my own lunch in my own container, as per usual), that I’d made myself an iced coffee before we came and yes, this glass is specially for that purpose, and that it’s easy to get used to carrying around a water bottle. She asked a few questions and made a few comments and seemed intrigued. (Progress, since she’s one of the ones who tried to talk me out of it years ago.)
I told the hygienist how I’d found some bamboo “perio sticks” that are not only Trisha-friendly on the diet front but also compostable with a recyclable or reusable tin container. She told me that was my best appointment ever and my gums looked amazing. I told her that I was inspired by her telling me not flossing ever was “not ideal.” That made her laugh. And then she was like, You want a plastic toothbrush? and I was like, Nah, and she nodded like she expected as much and then I left. P.S. She thought the perio sticks were a scam when I first told her about them; my mouth made her a believer. Eventually the dentist came in, said he’d tell patients about the perio sticks as an alternative to floss and said, “Hey, did you know you can get bamboo toothbrushes now?!” and he was so excited about sharing that information that I kind of felt bad that I had to tell him I’ve been using such a toothbrush for years.
And Shannon told my mom and me how, in honor of my birthday month last year, she gave up disposable grocery bags in favor of reusable — and that when she forgot them, she’d put single items back into the cart after checkout and bag them herself at the car. I was touched by her dedication. Then we talked about Market of Choice. What I could do with a store like that in my hometown! (Bulk apple cider vinegar? Are you kidding me? I WANT THAT.)
Anyway, what I’ve noticed with these conversations is that people are doing their best (even me, hashtag perio sticks) (hashtag yeah I know it’s supposed to be # but you guys, that’s really called the pound key and I can’t.) Sometimes it’s easier to be a minimalist than others. Sometimes it’s a matter of making up your mind and then following through. Sometimes it’s doing the best you can with a bunch of really terrible options.
Sometimes it’s about not buying that thing in the first place.
P.P.S. I know I’m talking about minimalism and zero waste as if they were interchangeable, because that’s how I think of them: Two sides of the same coin. That’s my preference; it’s okay if it isn’t yours. I am not the boss of you.