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What Is Minimalism?

Interesting article . . . .

So what is this minimalism thing? It’s quite simple: to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, you can’t own a car or a home or a television, you can’t have a career, you must live in exotic hard-to-pronounce places all over the world, you must start a blog, you can’t have children, and you must be a young white male from a privileged background.

OK, we’re joking—obviously. But people who dismiss minimalism as some sort of fad usually mention any of the above “restrictions” as to why they could “never be a minimalist.” Minimalism isn’t about any of those things, but it can help you accomplish them. If you desire to live with fewer material possessions, or not own a car or a television, or travel all over the world, then minimalism can lend a hand. But that’s not the point.

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.

There are plenty of successful minimalists who lead appreciably different lives. Our friend Leo Babauta has a wife and six children. Joshua Becker has a career he enjoys, a family he loves, and a house and a car in suburbia. Conversely, Colin Wright owns 51 things and travels all over the world, and Tammy Strobel and her husband live in a “tiny house” and are completely car-free. Even though each of these people are different, they all share two things in common: they are minimalists, and minimalism has allowed them to pursue purpose-driven lives.

But how can these people be so different and yet still be minimalists? That brings us back to our original question: What is minimalism? If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Minimalism has helped us…

  • Eliminate our discontent
  • Reclaim our time
  • Live in the moment
  • Pursue our passions
  • Discover our missions
  • Experience real freedom
  • Create more, consume less
  • Focus on our health
  • Grow as individuals
  • Contribute beyond ourselves
  • Rid ourselves of excess stuff
  • Discover purpose in our lives

By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we’ve finally been able to find lasting happiness—and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? We all want to be happy. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life.

Through our essays we intend to present to you ideas of how to achieve a minimalist lifestyle without adhering to a strict code or an arbitrary set of rules. A word of warning, though: it isn’t easy to take the first steps, but your journey towards minimalism gets much easier—and more rewarding—the further you go. The first steps often take radical changes in your mindset, actions, and habits. Fret not, though—we want to help: we’ve documented our experiences so you can learn from our failures and successes, applying what we’ve learned to your own situation, assisting you in leading a more meaningful life.

This is just our take on minimalism. For more, read our minimalism elevator pitch, as well as some of our friends’ explanations of minimalism:

Leo Babauta’s Description of Minimalism

Joshua Becker’s Benefits of Minimalism

Courtney Carver’s 25 Reasons You Might Be a Minimalist

Colin Wright’s Minimalism Explained

Sustainable living – the simple life

Sustainable living means a lifestyle that uses as few resources as possible and causes the least amount of environmental damage for future generations to deal with.  Permaculture is an aid to those individuals who strive towards a self sustaining, off the grid lifestyle.

“We see a system of exchange based on abundance instead of encumbrance, equality instead of competition, opportunity instead of obligation, gratitude instead of greed. We see all peoples everywhere, enjoying equal access to all good things, and with this comes a blossoming of the soul of humanity such as has never been seen throughout the whole of time. – Author Unknown.”

  • Housing: Sustainable homes are built in such a way that they use few nonrenewable resources, do not require much energy to run, and cause little or no damage to the surrounding environment. A sustainable home should be constructed from materials that have been produced in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, a house might be built from straw bales, adobe, or reclaimed stone or brick. Many homeowners pursue sustainable living by making their homes as low energy as possible, either by making sure that they have very high energy efficiency or by producing their own power from the sun or wind.
  • Sustainable energy: The energy sources used must be renewable rather than limited in quantity. Energy sources such as fossil fuels cannot readily be renewed, so instead of these, sustainable living requires using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, water, or geothermal energy. The energy must also be captured and used in an environmentally friendly way that does not damage the environment for future generations. For sustainable living, a person must leave as little impact on the world as possible.
  • Diet: The diet of someone who is focused on sustainable living should focus on foods that are at the base of the food chain. A vegetarian lifestyle is best suited to sustainable living (but not essential provided animal rights are respected) because it requires the fewest resources to produce and causes the least amount of environmental damage and degradation. The food should also be grown organically without the use of chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides that can pollute the environment and cause health problems for other animals or humans. It is best to eat food that has been grown locally to reduce the problems caused by transporting food over long distances. Many people try to grow their own produce in their yard or in a community garden near their home. A Permaculture food garden is best suited for this purpose.

Essentially, sustainable living involves living as lightly on the Earth as possible. Someone who succeeds at living a sustainable lifestyle will use very few resources and will leave the environment as untouched as possible so that future generations will be able to enjoy the same high quality of life that people do today.

We see . . . . a new world

We see a system of exchange based on abundance instead of encumbrance, equality instead of competition, opportunity instead of obligation, gratitude instead of greed. We see all peoples everywhere, enjoying equal access to all good things, and with this comes a blossoming of the soul of humanity such as has never been seen throughout the whole of time.

Author unknown

John on ecovillage communities

From an article by Ross Jackson Permaculture Magazine article – issue 40 2004:

An ecovillage is, ideally speaking, a microcosm of the macrocosm, as it represents in a very small area — typically with 50-400 people — all the elements and all the problems present in the greater society, while providing visible solutions to these problems, whether it be living sustainably, resolving conflicts peacefully, creating jobs, raising children, providing relevant education, or simply enjoying and celebrating life. Contrast this with the broader Western society, with fragmented families, separation of work and home, separation of rich and poor, crime in the streets, and living in constant fear under stress, not least because deep down we all know that the current Western life-style of exaggerated consumption and social inequity is unsustainable and unjust on a global scale, and will come to an end sooner or later

A few good reasons to have your own veggie patch:

  • Fresh. It can’t be fresher than this . . . . Throw in some fresh air and exercise as well – it cant get better than this.
  • Fun. The joy of planting your own veg and reaping the rewards .
  • Taste. By varying i.e. carrot seeds you can have a wide selection of veg to choose from.
  • Decorative. Gone are the days of a veggie garden hidden away somewhere – be creative and incorporate veg and herbs into your normal garden. You will be surprised at the results . . .
  • Waste not Want not. Pick what you need and share the surplus with your neighbours and friends . . .  (I get quite a kick out of showing off my baby marrows or whatever is available)
  • Think green. The advantages of a bio friendly garden and chemical free foods are well known.
  • Crop rotation. Buzz word for planning your veggie garden in such a way that you prolong the availability of different kinds of veg by for exampel sowing seeds every few weeks, etc.
  • Nutrition. It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Health: You decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact with your food.
  • In charge: It lets you control when to harvest your food.
  • etc – (If you can come up with a few more good reasons for one’s own veggie patch lets have them.) We also look forwad to your comments . .  .

Speak to Yvette if you would like assistance with your herb and/or veggie garden. yvette@farmerjohn.co.za or phone us. We look forward to hearing from you