Written by Avery Bohman, 577 Program Intern
Can less equal more? Finding the answer to this question began with my journey to a more minimalist lifestyle. At the start of the pandemic, I was browsing YouTube videos watching informational stories and tips about minimalism. With all the free time I unexpectedly had, I was curious about ways to declutter my physical and mental space while simultaneously helping the environment or others in some way. 2020 was a year of confusion and panic for many of us, and the new outlet I found through minimalism positively impacted my health in so many ways.
I was inspired watching a few people on YouTube advocate for the benefits and comfort of a minimalist lifestyle. As a result, I began rummaging through my belongings to see what I could personally release from my life. I set aside a donation box and gathered books that no longer interested me, clothes and jewelry I hadn’t worn in years, old nail polish I’d had since I was a kid, and much more. When I was done with my first decluttering kick, I felt so relieved and serene. Asking myself what I truly needed and used in my life helped me feel confident and intentional.
One of the greatest benefits of minimalism, in my opinion, is that feeling of letting go and starting anew with intention. There is something about living an intentional lifestyle that screams peace. I find decluttering unnecessary belongings builds up my well-being, both physically and mentally, in a way I didn’t know was possible. I also fell in love with being realistic and honest with myself about what I actually needed and wanted in my home, as well as donating or gifting those gently-used items I was letting go of to new homes. I donated to friends and family, thrift shops, homeless shelters, and other clothing or product drives. Over time, I have also donated to animal shelters, schools, and of course, 577!
Decluttering also brought on a new mindset for me. I was no longer interested in buying all the latest trendy clothes or having the largest collection of books, I was realizing I only wanted to bring in things that would bring me happiness and didn’t clutter my space. I realized the physical clutter I had experienced in the past with my physical belongings also crowded my mind and focus, and once I was able to let go of some of the extra stress and mess, I was happier and also more environmentally focused. Stepping back from the commercial buyer’s mindset allowed me to help the environment and others. I wasn’t contributing to the demand for new products, I was donating to those who might have needed something more than I did, and I was practicing a mindful approach before spending. Less did equal more.
My goal is in no way to guilt someone into feeling they need to go home and get rid of everything they own, nor that they need to go to the extreme of only allowing x-number of items into their home at all times. I am simply hoping we all take an honest look at our belongings and think about what we need and what truly makes us happy, instead of holding onto things that no longer serve us, our family, or our home.
Lastly, minimalism is a journey. It won’t happen overnight, and that’s okay! I still declutter here and there, and it’s not always in bulk. Sometimes it’s just getting rid of some paperwork that’s been lying around for weeks or an old eyeshadow pallet or two.
I wish you the best as you embark on your own minimalism journey, whatever it may look like. Remember no one lives a perfectly minimal lifestyle, but if we take active steps towards bettering our minds, homes, and planet, we will feel more intentional and energetic.
P.S. If you’re interested in where I got some of my inspiration, some of my favorite minimalist channels on YouTube include Margaret Matheny, Sarah Therese, Sustainably Vegan, and Malama Life.
Ready to take on a Declutter Challenge? Over the next month (or when you feel ready), try a 30-day decluttering challenge.
How it works: The best way to start is on the first of the month, but you can really start it any day. The goal is to declutter an item for each day of the month. For example, on day one, you would declutter one thing from your home, office, car, etcetera. Then on day two, you would increase to decluttering two items. On day 30, you would declutter 30 items. At the end of the month, you would have decluttered over 400 items in total! These can be small items like extra paper clips, random buttons, ribbon, expired medicine or food, holey socks, unused art supplies, or trinkets. Don’t forget to think of ways you can donate, reuse, or recycle your items, instead of adding them to the landfill.
P. P. S. If you’re decluttering and are interested in donating your gently-used or like-new books or art supplies to 577’s Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop, check out our donation guidelines HERE. The Welcome Center is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 am to 4 pm.