August will see me pack up my bags and hop on a flight to Sweden. Naturally, this move requires slimming down the wardrobe and being selective in terms of what to put in the suitcase. Studying Sustainable Management, where better to start managing sustainably than in your own life. I’ve had clear outs over the years but approached this one with a different mindset after being inspired from The Minimalists Ted Talk.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes minimalism as “deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design”. The Minimalists take it a step further claiming it as a “tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important”. The philosophy stretches beyond decluttering and is a welcome respite from the consumer culture I’ve become accustomed too.

The past two weeks has been a real challenge, trying to adopt this living style and pairing back on the “stuff” in my life. I still have a full wardrobe so definitely a long way to go yet I am already feeling the benefits of having less unnecessary things. I’ve compiled a list of tips for you to try if you to want to declutter and focus on what is important in your life.

5 Tips

  • Find your Easy-Wins – start with the stuff you hate or haven’t worn in years and stick them in a bag. Now you’ve made a start! Everything from here is a bonus towards a simplified life.
  • Start Small – I started with my bedside table drawer and after emptying that, I had the strength to tackle my cabinet. I worked my way up to the biggest challenge which in my case was the wardrobe.
  • Picture It – Some of the stuff wasn’t even on my radar for getting rid of, but when I had it laid out and photographed I realised the only reason I was keeping it was the memory. Now that I have the memory in an image, I don’t need to hold onto the physical possession. 
  • Have a Purpose – Mine is simply that I’ll be moving out and need to clear the room, although a fresh start and leading a more conscious life are nice bonuses. It’s tough going and I realised through the process how sentimental I am but afterwards you’re left with the pieces you love.
  • Go Easy – One of my friend’s mothers routinely picks up boxes she hasn’t opened for a while and flings it into a bin. Aside from the lack of recycling/donating in that scenario I just don’t have the ruthlessness to do it. You can do a review of all your items on a regular basis as not everything needs to go today. Needs change over time and the longer it’s not used the easier it can sometimes be to get rid of.

Embedding this routine into your life will mean you’ll be less susceptible to fast fashion bargains and think more consciously about the item. What needs is it satisfying in your life? Will this cheap item be up for review in 6 months’ time? If the answer is maybe, don’t buy it. Save your money and invest in something more worthwhile. Donating, recycling and selling off these items will hopefully put you in a great position to start the new academic year with a fresh start.