Specifically, I look at how certain minimalists have increasingly used minimalism as an aesthetic choice over recent years. Ultimately, minimalism needs to be renegotiated as a pro-environment and anti-consumption mindset.
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We need to renegotiate the idea of minimalism
The term was originally coined in the late
1950s to describe the abstract visions of artists like Frank Stella and Carl Andre
But has since been co-opted into an aesthetic that leans heavily on class privilege
And the ability to choose less today
I want to critique what minimalism has become and then point towards a minimalist lifestyle that moves away from
aesthetics and into politics ultimately minimalism has promised for
socio-economic and environmental reasons
but we need to understand that its current state is more an extension of consumer culture than a movement toward an
environmentally and materially conscious society the trend of minimalism as a
Personal aesthetic has spiraled out of control in recent years
Somehow it has become the opposite of what it was trying to be now for certain minimalists
The lifestyle means a tightly curated wardrobe of expensive clothes in an aesthetic of white on white on white
Using the minimalism as a style merely replaces one form of conspicuous consumption with another
Take for example the buy less but buy better mindset that is invaded minimalism
Yes, buying a $400 pair of shoes might in some cases be more environmentally friendly than buying four sets of
$50 shoes because the pricier shoes will most likely last longer and produce less waste than four pairs
However most people don’t have the money for that
So this minimalist philosophy uses the excuse of having little
To buy the most expensive things perhaps minimalists are purchasing less
But they’re still buying into the idea of creating status via
Expensive items thus if you don’t have the means or the money to rid yourself of your belongings and purchase just the right things then
minimalism must not be for you. As Chelsea Fagan puts in her opinion piece in The Guardian the only people who can
quote-unquote practice minimalism in any meaningful way are people upon whom it isn’t forced by
financial or logistical circumstances and
This new trend of minimalism as a visual aesthetic has now been conflated with a surge of self
optimization by using the right technology and
Paring down your life in the right way minimalism can portably deliver happiness
Financial security and free time to those who follow its path
Unfortunately it can only be viewed as a key to happiness by those who already have more than enough for low income people buying
Inexpensive clothing or owning less furniture isn’t a choice
It’s a structural reality minimalism
However can offer so much more than a stylistically slimmed down wardrobe it can instead mean a purposefully
Environmentally conscious lifestyle that works against the power of capitalism. The focused with minimalism
Then is not necessarily working to edit your furniture choices and activewear down to the cream of the crop
But instead on working hard to critically assess your consumption choices. Day to day this looks like choosing not to buy the latest
Thousand-dollar iPhone or if you’re cleaning out your closet choosing not to sell your clothes if you don’t need the money and instead
Donating them to a progressive organization if you do in fact need to get a new pair of pants consider buying
Secondhand the idea is to understand that consumption feeds a system that affects a tremendous harm on the environment and on
Marginalized people minimalism can offer guidance, not as a stylistic choice
But as a mindset that helps reroute our unconscious purchasing habits into a well informed
consumption critical stance
Minimum has slowly grown more popular as it is taken hold of the American psyche and with that transition
Minimalism has become more watered-down and at times the opposite of what it originally
intended to be. So it’s important to remember that as an aesthetic trend and a way to find happiness
minimalism can sometimes be just another
insidious form of conspicuous consumption.
As a pro-environment and anti consumption choice however minimalism can offer a way to navigate an economic system that
constantly pressures us to buy more
Having and buying less do not need to be status symbols or the subject of an Instagram post, they can instead be
radical political and environmental acts
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