A while back I was approached by a journalist who was going to write a small piece about minimalism and consumption habits for OBOS magazine here in Norway. Naturally it was shortened quite a bit when it ended up in print, so I thought it might be fun to publish my full original answers here.
Why and when did you start to change your consumption habits?
I started becoming more conscious of my consumption habits a few years back when my boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment. The old apartment was only around 490 square feet, but our moving van was filled to the brim with stuff. It was excessive and overwhelming, and it made me realize how many unnecessary things we owned. Around that same time I started reading a lot of fashion blogs who focused on quality over quantity, and over the next few years I did some 6-12 month shopping bans on clothing. That’s where it started, and it has escalated from there.
When did the change occur, and how drastic was it?
The move in question was back in 2010, so the change has been gradual since then. In the beginning my focus was to buy less clothes, but since then I have trashed or donated furniture, hobby items, kitchen appliances, gadgets, knick-knacks, nearly our entire movie collection and 95% of our book shelf. I also try to be conscious of which foods I buy to avoid unnecessary food waste. It has to be said though that getting rid of things is the easy part: the biggest challenge has been to change my habits so that I don’t end up back where I started. I rarely visit stores anymore unless I already know what I am there to buy.
How many garments are in your closet?
I think I have a pretty normal closet, and I don’t know how many items of clothing I own. I probably don’t buy clothes as often as most people, but since I try to buy things that last I usually own them for a very long time. I patch elbows and dye faded jeans, and my rule of thumb is that I don’t buy anything new unless there’s an actual need for it. Of course, the word “need” can become relative if I stumble across the perfect garment. I have my weak moments just like everybody else.
What reactions do you get?
I don’t really get that many reactions, because you can’t really tell by looking at me that I prefer digital books, dislike knick-knacks and don’t have a lot of things in my storage room. People are usually curious, and they often tell me that they would like to get rid of their surplus belongings as well. I usually point them in the direction of a book or a blog that I think they might like. I sometimes detect a hint of schadenfreude when I slip up and make an impulse purchase, but thankfully I don’t get that very often.
Are you happy with your choice?
I’m very happy with my choice. We moved again last fall, and the process was so much easier this time. We could move to a smaller apartment than the one we came from since we don’t need that much space. Less stuff means that we spend less time cleaning, and less shopping is good for both your wallet and the environment. I wholeheartedly recommend it.