Morten Just has drawn up a flow chart to help you decide which possessions you should keep, and those that you should dispose of, if say you are moving house, or just feel like doing away with things you no longer need.
View the large version of the flow chart here.
22 year old New Yorker Kelly Sutton is determined to clear the clutter from his life and aims to be able to fit all his possessions into just two packing boxes and two travelling bags.
By digitising his book and music collections, and the use of online/cloud applications such as Flickr, iTunes, and Facebook, he has been able to dispense with much of what he used to own. And rather than just being a personal goal, Sutton sees what he calls the cult of less becoming a wider trend:
This 21st-Century minimalist says he got rid of much of his clutter because he felt the ever-increasing number of available digital goods have provided adequate replacements for his former physical possessions. “I think cutting down on physical commodities in general might be a trend of my generation – cutting down on physical commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts will be a fact,” said Mr Sutton.
There are weeks I find myself living the “cult of less” lifestyle as I move from place to place in digital nomad style, often with just my laptop and a bag of clothes. While I’m all for the minimalist life, I think it can be taken too far, particularly in terms of accommodation:
Mr Klein says the lifestyle can become loathsome because “you never know where you will sleep”.
Many “cult of less” devotees seem dependent on a friend’s sofa, or living room floor, on which to sleep, which seems a tad self serving. What happens when said friends decide to go the “cult of less” way themselves? Whose sofa will everyone sleep on then?
For “cult of less” to truly come into its own, one need to be far more self sufficient. What’s wrong with a network of hotels… two bags and two boxes will easily into even a modest hotel room.
The case for owning as little as possible. While ownership is generally less expensive than leasing or renting over the long term, it still comes with ongoing costs, maintenance, upkeep, and even a degree of stress, that many of us tend to overlook.
In short, ownership dampens your happiness and burdens you psychologically. Being able to leave your home and not worry about a pet adds to your happiness. Keeping your housing costs low and not accidentally accumulating stuff allows you to spend time and money on things that matter more. Riding the bus frees you from mechanic’s fees and being worried about “that squeaking sound the car makes when starting up.” And avoiding very nice things allows you to avoid the “good china” problem where you don’t want to use something for fear of damaging it.
Rising oil prices and the global recession may not be the only factors behind a decline in car ownership, as people increasingly decide they can do without a motor vehicle.
Younger people today – in fact, people of all ages – no longer see the car as a necessary expense or a source of personal freedom. In fact, it is increasingly just the opposite: not owning a car and not owning a house are seen by more and more as a path to greater flexibility, choice, and personal autonomy.
When it comes to owning possessions it seems to be a case of the more you have, the more you need, something Larry McDuff realised when he discovered that the opposite also holds true, the less you own, the less you can live with.
Society percieves the owner of a big house which can hold more possessions as more successful, when in fact he may be held in bondage by high house payments, taxes, utilities, repair costs, and a general lack of freedom. In an ever-increasing need for protection he acquires security lights, burglar alarms, double locks, fences, and moves into a subdivision with a locked gate. He pays large insurance premiums so he can afford to replace everything in case all his protection doesn’t work.