Minimalism, Frugalism, etc. are Just Labels

I have been doing a lot of reading and research online about the “how to” and effects of voluntarily downsizing your lifestyle over the past few months (and even more since June 17th).  I came across Minimalism vs. Frugalism post by DUFF MCDUFFEE at Beyond Growth blog last weekend.

It was a post with an interesting take on Minimalism vs Frugalism. I recommend that you read the entire post, some of the observations will make you think. His last sentence sums up the gist of the post very well:

“But it can be helpful to sort these things out to make sense of what is going on when people talk about “minimalism” within the personal development world, and why primarily minimalism as expounded by the A-list bloggers is about the simple aesthetic, not the frugal ethic.”

I don’t know if I totally agree with all the premises in this post, but at the same time, it did make me think a lot more about minimalism and what it has become. I have been a big fan of Leo Babauta for quite some time and like a lot of what he brings to the table. However, at the same time it seems to me that many of today’s advocates of minimalism, have made it a challenge or a goal to have as little “stuff” as possible. I don’t really think that is what minimalism was about initially and these might be part the extreme side of it, but it seems to be a lot of what is written about online lately.

This to me is not reality. As a person who is half way through his fifties, I am not about go out and live like I did when I was a 20 something (where everything I owned fit easily into the back of a Subaru Brat). Yes I have “stuff” that I need to get rid of, but at the same time I also have a lot of stuff that I am going to keep for a variety of reasons including: emotional attachment, usefulness and possible need later. These are reasons that many minimalists I have read lately, believe that you can overcome over time and are part of the issue, not part of the solution.

Personally I don’t want to live with only 100 things or even try to. If you look out in my garage not too many things I own are very sexy, but they work and just in case our society goes to hell-in-a-handbasket, I want a few things left around the house.  I don’t want to have to depend on others or whether something may or may not work, i.e. iPad, eBook reader, Computers, or gas powered thingamajings. I am not an end-worlder or survivalist, but if gas prices top a certain point or if there is a long-term disruption of our electrical systems for whatever reason, then my human powered tools will be pretty nice to have kept.

I have a feeling we are all on a spectrum from being completely consumer driven to the one’s who want to be completely self-sufficient. Most of these minimalists, greenies, simple living, simplicity, survivalists (not militia), frugalists and others are all about downsizing your life one way or the other and living with less in today’s consumer driven economy.

All these names are simply labels that are used to identify what groups of people are attempting to do. Then others will find ways to make money from those labels and people who identify with those labels (isn’t that the American way). Some of you might think that this is harsh, but from where I stand it is the truth and you know something I really don’t have a problem with it, but be honest about what you are doing.

Thank you Duff McDuffee for making me think a little more about minimalism vs frugalism and a few of the other “isms”. I have a feeling that of all these “isms, we are somewhat closer to the frugality/simple living side of the coin, right now even though I do own a MacBook Pro and an old iPhone 3G with Skype, but no phone service :-).

What label do I apply to my lifestyle – pretty simple:  Downsizing and slowing down.

Harold