Recently, I have been coming across an increasing number of articles and commentaries along the vein of this article.
Minimalist aesthetic and modern minimalism living are entirely different topics. One is an artistic style focused on the use of empty space. The other focuses on emptying space in a life to be filled with quality, value, and those aspects each individual considers most worthwhile to themselves. This overlap in terms leads to common misunderstandings about these two topics being interwoven when they are in fact completely different choices in different settings for different reasons. This is one of the reasons why the term “simple living” has sprung up within the minimalist lifestyle community as a way to separate from the artistic topic.
Another glaring issue with these types of attacks on minimalistic living is the artificially inflated assumption of the required resources to start living simply. It does not cost you much in the form of financial resources to try to live a more simplified lifestyle. In fact, it takes nigh no effort to find individuals throughout the internet giving examples of achieving an increased level of financial freedom through minimalist living. The whole goal of minimalist lifestyles is a constant process of weeding out the unnecessary to make room for the desirable. You most certainly can do this in one fell swoop, jettisoning the majority share of your belongings and replacing them whole-sale with more efficient and multi-purpose replacements. The alternative, which tends to be the far more utilized approach, is to remove the belongings you don’t want at all and replace others as they become unnecessary or too damaged. This second approach is commonly done over a span of years, allowing any financial burden to be spread out in to more reasonable portions. In some instances, the financial strain is the same as the “regular” alternative would cost at the time. For instance, buying one pair of high-quality pants for twice the price instead of two (or three) regular pairs as replacement for the pants you’ve worn out.
I consider a simple life a morally positive way to very specifically not spend my money. I live simply so as to allow others to simply live. There is nothing inherently moral about spending your resources in one way or another. There is, however, quite a bit to be said on the topic of morals about expending more than your share of resources. When we begin using resources others need to achieve a life of health and stability to allow ourselves to live lives of comfort and excess, we loose any moral right to say “this is my life, I’ll live the way I want”. When we reach this point (which let’s be honest, if you live in a 1st world nation, you’re almost certainly past this point), we must legitimize our consumption. This is why I choose to live my own life simply with a lower resource drain. It may sound as if I’m saying “I live ‘better’ than you”, yet what I’m really saying is “I’m living better than the me of last year, and I hope I can say the same thing next year”.