Introduction: What the Tiny Home Movement Means for the Rest of Us
The Tiny Home movement seemingly took the world by storm, especially here in the United States.
Suddenly, many people (disproportionately young people) started to remove themselves from the normal trappings of modern life.
Tiny Homes themselves featured many common conveniences, but the overall idea was to only use what you really needed, rather than buying too many things, having too large a living space, etc.
The movement has since seen a number of offshoots, including stealth van living and even communal living.
Despite the fact that the idea of a tiny home and getting rid of nearly all your possessions sounds appealing, many of us aren’t going to make that leap.
But that core idea, of getting rid of things you don’t need so that you can focus on what matters, is one that we can all learn something from.
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of downsizing and starting over.
This doesn’t necessarily involve quitting your job, moving to a new city, and starting from scratch, but it does involve reassessing your possessions and your living space in a critical light, with the aim of getting rid of unnecessary elements.
We’ll also briefly talk about some basic steps you can take to move away from a consumerist lifestyle.
You can also check out our article on how to get rid of items with sentimental value.
Minimized Environmental Impact
One of the biggest forces behind the Tiny Home movement, and contemporary minimalism in general is a desire to limit one’s own impact on the environment.
Buying lots of manufactured items and using a lot of electronic devices can make for a lifestyle with a significant carbon footprint.
If you donate items you don’t need, then someone else can buy them, rather than buying brand new products.
In the long-term, this can have a positive effect on manufacturing in general. If we stop buying as many brand new items, then companies will start to make less, and in turn, their environmental impact drops as well.
A Cleaner Home
Having fewer objects in your home makes it much easier to clean and keep clean. It’s as simple as that.
Downsizing is the anti-hoarding. All you have to do is take a look at each item in your home and decide whether or not you really need it.
When it comes to things such as kitchen appliances and basic furniture, you’ll probably decide that you do in fact need them.
But when it comes to books, personal items, clothes, and many other gizmos and gadgets you might not have used for a while, you may decide that you could do without them.
Imagine organizing a closet with 30 total items rather than 90. Cleaning quickly becomes less of a chore, motivating you to do it more often.
A Simpler Lifestyle
When we pay money for something, we tend to value it more, and it’s a bit harder to let it go, even if we don’t use it regularly.
It can be comforting to spend time with your belongings. In some cases, getting caught up in your personal stuff can distract from the aspects of your life that really matter: personal relationships and helping others.
When there are fewer things in your home to distract you from interpersonal interactions, then you’re more likely to have a conversation or leave the house, both of which are healthy habits.
After all, there’s a good reason that many Buddhist monks choose to rid themselves of personal possessions. Their minimalist lifestyle allows them to focus on meditation and service.
If you’ve found yourself becoming increasingly preoccupied with television, video games, or physical media, then downsizing may give you an opportunity to take a second look at your daily routine.
Steps to Get You Started
Now let’s talk about some simple steps you can take to start downsizing your personal possessions. They don’t require any financial investment on your point. Even better, you may actually make some money in the process.
Donate Clothes and Furniture
Donating clothing and unwanted furniture is fairly easy, especially in large cities. There are several charity organizations who make donations simple and fast. Some organizations even offer free pick-up of large items.
In the age of fast-fashion, it can be very easy to collect a large wardrobe without even noticing. There are plenty of options for cheap, stylish clothing, and many of us end up with pieces we just don’t need.
A good rule of thumb for your personal wardrobe is to limit it to roughly 50 total pieces between shoes, tops, and bottoms.
Depending on your climate, you may even want to lower that number to 40 or less. If you’re donating a significant amount of clothing, don’t forget that you may be able to write it off on your taxes as well.
There are many great resources online for learning more about the minimalist lifestyle. This site, for example, offers a basic guide on where to get started with minimalism.
It’s also a great idea to reach out to friends and family members. Maybe you already know someone who is utilizing minimalist principles.
If this is the case, don’t be afraid to ask about it, seeking advice or just an explanation of why they made the switch.
Spend Less Time with Your Stuff
Lastly, you can weaken your affections for your physical possessions by spending time away from them.
Look for activities that don’t require many physical items. Outdoors activities are a great start. Hiking, traveling, and exercise are all excellent ways to enjoy yourself without needing to buy more things that will sit in your home for years to come.
Social activities are another great option. In the long-term, spending your time and money on memorable experiences with friends and loved ones will make you much happier than gathering possessions.
Downsizing isn’t for everyone, and it’s not limited to one specific method. There are many different ways to lessen your environmental impact and declutter your home at the same time.
It all comes down to the kind of life you want to live, and deciding whether the things you own are helping you reach that goal or getting in the way.