How I Became a Minimalist

Something I've become extremely passionate about over the last year is minimalism. What exactly is minimalism? Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists Podcast said it best:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
— Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

My obsession with minimalism began after reading Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. After spending most of my college years daydreaming about being able to fit all my belongings (besides furniture, of course) in my Honda CR-V, I knew I needed to learn more about living with less. Around this time, I also developed an infatuation with tiny houses. I loved the idea of living with only the essentials, in a small (less than 400 sq ft!), affordable, cozy space that could easily be transported around the country. 

Kondo's book completely changed my relationship with material items. Her practice centers around a simple concept: If something you own doesn't spark feelings of joy, get rid of it. Over the span of several weeks, I evaluated everything in my apartment and donated/trashed two dozen garbage bags full of stuff. Stuff I didn't need, stuff I didn't use, stuff I didn't love. How did I feel when the process was complete? Like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

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Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store.

But they are wrong. Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care. And in doing so, it finds life.
— Joshua Becker // Be More With Less

Many people think minimalism is boring. They imagine bare walls, an empty wardrobe, and a single set of silverware. But the reality is so much more fulfilling.

This is a misconception about minimalism — that it’s necessarily monk-like, empty, boring, sterile. Not at all. Well, it can be, if you go in that direction, but I don’t advocate that flavor of minimalism. Instead, we are clearing away all but the most essential things — to make room for that which gives us the most joy. Clear away the distractions so we can create something incredible. Clear away all the obligations so we can spend time with loved ones. Clear away the noise so we can concentrate on inner peace, on spirituality (if we wish), on our thinking. As a result, there is more happiness, peace, and joy, because we’ve made room for these things.
— Leo Babatua

The amazing thing about minimalism is that it begins as a journey to declutter your material belongings, but it evolves into something even more meaningful. Over time, minimalism becomes a lifestyle. After organizing my apartment and only keeping things that brought me joy, I began to crave joy and simplicity in every area of my life. I became more intentional with my health. Exercise became an integral part of my week, and I adopted a clean, healthy diet that significantly improved my chronic health issues and digestive problems. I dedicated more time and money to self-care. I took strides to become debt free, unencumbered by monthly credit card payments that resulted from buying too much stuff I didn't need. I realized I didn't want to be held down by toxic friendships and relationships. Instead, I wanted to surround myself with uplifting, positive people who shared my values and interests. Social media began to feel like a burden, and I simplified how many platforms I used, how much I shared on them, and how many apps I had on my iPhone. These new habits have been consistent in my life for the past year, and as time goes on, they become even more ingrained in who I am as a person. Right now, I feel more "me" than ever before. I'm less anxious, less stressed, and I feel happier and more joyous. Minimalism has given me an invaluable opportunity to discover who I am, what my values are, where my priorities lie, and how I want to live the rest of my life.

If you're interested in minimalism, I have a few recommendations for you to check out! I'll be updating this often, as I'm constantly discovering great resources that center around living a slow, simple life.

PODCASTS

BOOKS

WEBSITES

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

If you enjoyed reading this and want to see similar posts in the future, let me know! I'm thinking about doing a minimalism series and diving deeper into the world of living with less.

Ethical Fashion: 8 Awesome Companies

I've recently become really interested in conscious consumerism and ethical fashion, which encompasses the growing trend of creating more sustainable, environmentally-friendly products. I struggled to find a comprehensive definition online, but ethical companies are generally concerned with environmental sourcing and manufacturing of materials, carbon footprint reduction, and the safety of factory workers and consumers. Ethical companies aren't solely interested in mass producing items, making large sales, and gaining a profit. They think about the lives of the employees who make their products, as well as how their products impact the environment. Basically, ethical products benefit both people and the planet. Pretty cool, right?

Since I'm new to the world of ethical fashion, I did some research and found eight fantastic companies that are dedicated to fair factory conditions, providing sustainable futures for their employees, and using eco-friendly materials. If you're looking to add a few pieces to your spring/summer wardrobe, check these companies out!

TOMS | The One for One Company

TOMS is an incredible company. For every pair of sunglasses, shoes, or bag that you purchase, TOMS helps a person in need. They provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to 70+ countries around the world. In addition, TOMS helps create jobs by establishing manufacturing facilities in the same regions where they have a Giving presence. Since committing to local production in 2013, TOMS has created over 700 jobs, produced over 10 million pairs of shoes in five different countries (Argentina, China, Africa, Haiti, and India), and employed an equal ratio of male to female workers. I own two pairs of classic TOMS, but these sandals are adorable.

Everlane

I know a bunch of people who are loyal to Everlane, and for good reason. Their basic t-shirts are great quality, and they start at $15. Affordable, ethical fashion. What's not to love? Everlane maintains a hands-on approach with their factories, visiting often and forming personal relationships with the owners. If you visit the Everlane website, you can see where the factories are located and learn more about them. In addition, Everlane is all about transparency. They're honest about the cost of production, and they don't try to hide their markup. 

Albion Fit

I stumbled upon Albion Fit while reading one of my favorite blogs, Something Devine. Albion's bathing suits are adorable (I'm definitely buying one before summer rolls around!), and the company uses eco-friendly materials in all of their products. They're a local, family-owned company in Utah, and their mission is to provide women with luxurious and flattering fitness and leisure apparel while staying committed to the environment and community. They follow fair labor practices with all of their employees and business partners to create a sustainable work environment. But seriously, I can't get enough of their high-waisted bathing suit bottoms.

Sseko Designs | Wear Sseko, Send a Girl to College

Sseko Designs became popular for their ribbon sandals, which are handmade in Uganda and can be styled and tied in hundreds of different ways. They also sell handbags and accessories. The company uses fashion to provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women pursuing their dreams and overcoming poverty. They also provide employment (along with access to a comprehensive social impact program) to their team of 50 women in Uganda. You can read more about their incredible mission here. I'm seriously lusting after a pair of these ribbon sandals.

Ribbon Sandals . $64.99

The Reformation

The Reformation designs, manufactures, photographs, and ships everything right from their office/factory in Los Angeles, where their employees are offered fair wages and health insurance. Their "secret weapon" to sustainability is the materials they use. They make their clothes from sustainable materials, repurposed vintage clothing, and rescued fabric from fashion houses that over-ordered. In addition, their offices are green. They recycle, use eco-friendly packaging and paper products, and use recycled hangers and office supplies. The Reformation's products are a little more expensive than my budget allows for, but their dresses are beautiful. A girl can dream, right?

Guava Dress . $198

Threads 4 Thought

Threads 4 Thought is a lifestyle fashion brand that is produced responsibly and supports sustainable initiatives like the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Program. They have Fair-Trade Certified manufacturing facilities in China, Kenya, and India. You can read more about their factories here. In addition, they use sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lenzing modal (a soft, CO2 neutral fiber that's made from beech tree pulp). They're currently donating 100% of the profits from this shirt to the International Rescue Committee.

The Level Collective

The Level Collective is an independent, ethical clothing label based out of Sheffield, UK that revolves around adventure, design, and change. You can read more about their mission here. They collaborate with artists around the world to create Ethical Adventure Apparel. The working conditions in their factories are approved by the FairWear Foundation, and they strive towards sustainable fashion by using organic cotton. In addition, their beanie hats are handmade in Romania by a social enterprise that works to create opportunities for families in poverty. I bought the sweatshirt below a few months ago, and I absolutely love it.

Nena & Co.

Nena & Co. is a textile company based in Utah and Guatemala. The company works with Guatemalan artisans to create hand-woven textiles that are used to make all of their products. This method provides Guatemalan mothers with fair incomes and plenty of time to care for their children as they work from home. When you purchase a Nena & Co. product, you enable Nena & Co. to make a difference in Guatemalan lives, whether it's by providing an education scholarship or purified filter water to those in need. You can read more about their social responsibility here. I absolutely love the bright colors and funky patterns of their bags.