Screw Marie Kondo

Minimalism is for rich people.

I love the idea of having a living space with less stuff in it. It seems like it might be easier to think and relax in places where you don’t have to look at or move around so many things. Yes, there are times when a place is too minimal and it feels antiseptic or unattached to place or people, but the emptiness might well free the mind to let go of attachments and wander, and that could well be a form of rest. Less baggage, fewer burdens; a lightness.

Then I break something.

Having older, almost-gone stuff in a drawer or closet comes in handy when the newer, better stuff breaks down. With that stuff in storage, I can keep going and save the time it takes to perform a complete replacement for another day. Which itself might be saving me money in the long run, as I skip the looking around, whether it be visiting multiple stores or worriedly cruising the web looking for a replacement, and save overnight fees on shipping if it’s not nearby enough or not stocked at a local store.

I have multiple sets of cold-weather cycling gloves. One pair is new; the others range in age and purpose. Often gloves get downgraded as they get older. It feels like an extravagance now, but before I had a washing machine (an extravagance of sorts), a pair of soaking wet muddy winter gloves would be out of commission for at least a day, and if I wanted to ride the next day, I needed a backup pair.

The other morning, I was riding my commuter bike when I rolled over a sharp piece of steel plate that resulted in a flat. I was angry with myself, but at the same time, I was cognizant of the fact that the only reason I didn’t see the sharp shard was because my eye was evaluating how to get around a literal pile of garbage in the street that was in the midst of being cleaned up.

As it was 8am, I walked home. Even though there were two shops nearby, they wouldn’t be open for a few hours. I knew I had a spare tube and a spare tire in storage for this bike, so getting back up and running wasn’t a problem.   No waiting at a shop, no spending for a tire I wouldn’t use in other circumstances, and no paying for overnight shipping.

Turns out, I not only flatted the tube, but ripped the tire casing and dinged the rim. The bike was back in service thirty minutes after I flatted. That includes the walk home.

And this is the thing for most people. It’s cheaper and easier to hang on to a certain amount of nearly useless stuff for these kind of situations.

When I was young, I remember seeing broken down houses that had a car or two that appeared to be rust habitats in the adjoining yard. Some were even up on blocks, with wheels removed. I wondered back then why they were such pack rats, why they hung on to cars that didn’t work and stuff they weren’t using.

Now I know. They have that stuff because storing it is cheaper than buying new stuff when the better stuff gets busted.

If funds were unlimited, or less limited than where I’m at, I’d like to believe I’d get rid of the nearly-gone stuff and just purchase anew when the need arises, with no concern about price.

At the same time, despite the claims minimalists put forth of being less wasteful, getting rid of stuff that still has some life left is plenty wasteful. It’s wrong to claim that you can simply recycle much of that end-of-service-life things; most of that stuff often goes into landfills, and is not reused by others, nor is easy to recycle. Same goes for the fewer items of clothing; while I applaud buying clothes that are durable, if minimalism is just an excuse to have a new wardrobe for every season, it’s not doing society a favor, nor is it really much in the way of savings—especially once you realize you have to make emergency purchases.

I’d like to believe that most of us do this, with only important issue is determining the calculus for stuff removal, in terms of space, time, and price. Prioritizing what things you are more likely to need, what can be replaced more easily, and by what mechanism to decide when something doesn’t have enough value to stick around.

So screw Marie Kondo. Her aesthetic is costly.


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