Tag Archives: minimalist

Intersection of Naturism and Minimalism

As some of my readers may already know, I’m a naturist. If you aren’t quite sure what that means, think nudist. While some draw distinctions between naturism and nudism, for the purposes of this discussion we can consider them close enough to synonymous. While much can be said in favor of a nude lifestyle and naturist philosophy, my goal here today is to explore how not wearing clothing is consistent with minimalist values and a simple, frugal lifestyle.

Minimalist Wardrobe

A naturist’s wardrobe is the ultimate minimalist wardrobe. Ideally I’d not need to own any clothes at all. In reality, I have to go out in public from time to time, where society’s laws and norms compel me to cover my body. There are also times, even here in the desert, when it gets cold enough that clothing becomes necessary for one’s health and comfort.

My entire wardrobe consists of a pair of shorts, a pair of long pants, a few t-shirts, a couple polo shirts, a sweatshirt, and a winter jacket.

Saves Time

I do laundry about twice a year, and it all (aside from the winter coat) fits in one load. I save time by not washing, drying, ironing, folding and storing clothes, but it doesn’t stop there. How much time do you spend deciding what to wear each day? I don’t. How about time spent getting dressed and undressed, multiplied by how many times you change clothes each day? Not me. Taken separately, it may not seem like much, but it all adds up over the course of a day or week. I shop for clothes even less often than I wash them — even more time saved.

Saves Money

With my small and seldom-worn wardrobe, I spend very little money acquiring, maintaining, and replacing clothing. I can’t remember the last time I went clothes shopping, or even bought a bottle of laundry detergent for that matter. Without a layer of clothes insulating my body, I can be comfortable in room temperatures five to ten degrees warmer than a clothed person, allowing me to keep the thermostat higher in the summer – saving electricity saves money.

Saves Worry

When I wake up in the morning, I don’t worry about what I’ll wear today. I’m already wearing it! I don’t have to worry about ruining my clothes by getting them torn, worn, or dirty if I’m not wearing any. On the rare occasion I don clothes it isn’t a problem either because what little clothing I own is simple and inexpensive (and often from thrift stores). I’m not terribly concerned if something gets soiled or damaged.

Saves The Environment

Think of all the water I save by not washing clothes. Imagine if a whole city turned naturist how much water could be saved. And all the phosphates and chemicals from detergent I’m not using. Digging a little deeper, one could consider the environmental impact of clothing manufacture as well. All the water used to grow the cotton (or, worse, petroleum products used to manufacture synthetics). Energy to run the machines in the factory. And all the fuel consumed and pollution generated in transporting from field to factory to warehouse to store to home. As a bonus, by buying fewer clothes, I can afford to be choosier about what I buy and how it’s made, and hopefully avoid contributing to third-world sweatshops. Also, the electricity I save by needing less air conditioning in the summer doesn’t just save me money — it helps the environment, too!

Saves Space

How much space in your home is occupied by clothes? Closets, dressers, hampers. I’ve seen wardrobes bigger than my whole house. More space to store clothing care items – washing machine, detergent, softener, lint brushes, iron, ironing board.

Saves Distraction and Discomfort

It has been suggested that we avoid wearing labels and logos. What easier way to avoid those gratuitous marketing cues than avoiding clothes entirely?

Does your clothing irritate you? Does it ever itch? Restrict your movement? Make you uncomfortably warm in the summer? Not me.

But Wait, There’s More!

I’ve already mentioned how lack of clothing simplifies my daily routines, lightens my workload, saves me money, and reduces my environmental footprint. While I’ve been primarily pointing out the practical advantages of a nude lifestyle, there are other benefits to be had that cannot be measured in dollars, hours, or square feet. When looked at in a social context, nudity further simplifies my life by reinforcing my minimalist values while simplifying and enriching social activities.

Simplify Social Intercourse

Our opinion of other people is influenced at both a conscious and subconscious level by what they wear. That’s why there exist sayings like “Dress for Success” and “The Clothes Make the Man.” As much as most of us would like to think otherwise, our first impression of another person’s manner and style of dress as well as quality and cleanliness of their attire often makes a lasting impression, deserved or not. It can also have an profound effect on how (or even if) we choose to interact with that person.

When we all are nude, we all are equal. It is much easier to see the real person within when we don’t have the distraction and (often subconscious) prejudice created by their wardrobe. Likewise, other people see us for who we really are. Our preconceived notions are cast aside and we must engage in conversation to learn about our fellow humans, rather than drawing assumptions based on their choice of textiles used to cover their bodies.

Comments Are Open

Naturist or not, minimalist or not, I’d love to know what you think.

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How I Discovered Minimalism

Notice that I didn’t call this “How I Became a Minimalist.” While I’m certainly displaying tendencies in that direction, I’m not quite sure I deserve to wear the label “minimalist” — at least not yet.

Making Changes

All of us who are or who aspire to be minimalists have our own reasons for initially seeking this path. Often as we learn more, our own point of view changes, and along with it, some of our goals take different shapes and priorities.

When I made the decision several years ago to move from a three-bedroom house to a tiny motorhome, many people considered that to be a very minimalist move. I suppose it was, seeing as I parted with over 90% of my possessions to do so. Would I miss them? Would I feel deprived?

A New Feeling

Guess what? Instead of feeling deprived, I felt liberated. Free of the clutter. Free of the responsibility of maintaining and protecting it all. Free of the fear of it being stolen or damaged. No more spending weeks (or months!) packing and unpacking if I had to move.

Clutter Returns

I was feeling liberated by my tiny mobile dwelling and my lack of stuff. So far so good. I wasn’t really thinking too much about it as a lifestyle or a philosophy, though. I just sort of lived my life. Now and then I’d realize I needed something I lacked, or, more often, I just wanted something I saw, and eventually, after a few years, I realized that I’d accumulated an awful lot of stuff in my tiny home! Uh-oh. Not so liberating anymore. Especially when moving was taking nearly a week of rearranging and cramming so as to make this thing drivable, and then a half a day of unpacking and rearranging just to be able to use my bed, kitchen, and toilet once I’d arrived at my next destination.

A New Quest

It seems that when I had first downsized and simplified, I hadn’t made the necessary changes in my habits and behavior to sustain that simplicity. Funny how clutter can creep up like that. A trinket here and a gadget there doesn’t seem like much at the time, but they slowly, almost imperceptibly accumulate until suddenly you look around one day and go WTF? I wanted to get back that feeling of freedom and serenity.  I consulted my favorite research tool, the internet, looking not only for decluttering tips, support, and inspiration, but perhaps some help on figuring out how, once I get things back to how I’d like them to be, to have them stay that way.

A New Community

I found a small but thriving (and growing) community of bloggers, most of them calling themselves minimalists, each at his or her own stage of dealing with a similar situation, and sharing their experiences for each other and anyone else to benefit from. In addition to practical how-to advice, I was also reading about  why and about the results and how entire lives were being changed, enriched by removing needless clutter and excess material goods. As I became more involved, and started participating in the comments, I found not only inspiration for my decluttering challenges, but also a renewed interest in my own blog.

Thank You!

I’d like to express my thanks to this community, of which I now feel I am at least a small part, for not only all your words, but for inspiring me to write more of my own words. You’ll find most of the blogs that I regularly read are listed in the blogroll in the right-hand column. Maybe you’ll find some you haven’t visited before, or haven’t visited lately. And thank you to my readers and commenters, who remind me that my own blogging is a worthy endeavor.

My Current Goal

My immediate goal, at least with regards to stuff, is to get things to the point where I could easily pick up and go at any time, with a minimum of hassle. I want to be able, while in traveling mode, to still have access to all the necessities without that sensation of being in a tile puzzle.  The closer I get to that goal (which, looking around me, is still a ways off), and the more I work on decluttering, minimizing, and simplifying, the more I seem to be absorbing of the deeper meaning of minimalism. Not just decluttering, but why. I’m seeing how I am not defined by what I own, and how too much of it can weigh me down, and getting rid of the excess sets me free. And not just the physical things, either, but how simplifying life and my approach to living it makes it better and gives me more time for what I want to do. So perhaps I am a minimalist after all. Or at least well on my way to becoming one.

How about you?

Do you consider yourself a minimalist, or at least seeking that path? Do you maybe lean in that direction, but prefer a different label? Do you find yourself occasionally straying from your chosen path, and need that occasional jolt of reality (or reading about someone else’s) to set you right again? What is your immediate or next goal?

Pantry Purge (fifty pounds of crap)

I  spent yesterday going through all my cupboards, nooks, and crannies with the goal of purging them of excess, expired, and otherwise unwanted food items. The task netted me a 30-gallon trash bag filled with about fifty pounds of crap!

Now if you’ve read my recent post about Right Sized Shopping you’re probably wondering how I even had that much junk to glean from my shelves. Well, I haven’t always been such a careful shopper. Preferences and eating habits change. Some things I bought on a whim and ended up not liking. Also, I’d only been applying the right-size principle to food I bought. I sometimes get food elsewhere, like neighbors moving out or doing their own pantry purges, for example. Someone asks me “Want free food?” and I say “Sure!” I don’t take stuff I would never eat, but I’ll take something that looks interesting, or that I might eat, or that I already have plenty of. After all, it’s free, right?

Some Statistics

So what ended up in the bag? Here’s some stats:

  • Oldest expiration date: Feb 1999 (12 years old!) baking powder
  • Expiration date of most discarded items: 2008-2009
  • Largest number of same item: 12 boxes of strawberry Jello
  • Honorable mention: 8 assorted ramen noodles with 2008 dates
  • Strangest item: 5 jars of marshmallow fluff (what was I thinking?)

Plus lots of other goodies like half-used bug-infested bags of flour and masa, countless boxes of long-ago expired Hamburger Helper and Rice-a-Roni (as well as their generic equivalents), toaster pastries (I don’t even own a toaster!) and, well, I think you get the idea.

Bonus Round

While  superfluous foodstuffs were my primary target, I also managed to find and remove some extra vessels and containers, too, further lightening my load and reducing the cupboard clutter. I might miss those pretty blue glasses for a little while — lovely to look at and nice thick, heavy glass — but they just aren’t practical for me and I can’t remember the last time I drank from one of them.

Lessons Learned?

While the purge was necessary and well worth the time and effort for its own sake, paying attention to exactly what I was throwing out helps me better learn how to avoid accumulating too much (and eventually wasting) food in the future. Here’s what I took away from the experience:

Shelf life may be shorter than expected, due to vermin – Buy smaller sizes of infrequently used ingredients so I can use them up before bugs get to them.

Know what I already have to avoid buying duplicates – I had multiples of many items that I regularly eat, probably bought because I saw them on sale (or got them free) and didn’t realize I already had plenty on hand.

Rotate my stock – With some things, I found I had very old expired product in the back, with newer product in front. As I add new ones to the front, the ones in back just get older.

Use a shopping list and stick to it –  This is one I really need to work on, as it would eliminate a number of problems. The way I tend to shop is a combination of a “need” list – these are must-have necessities that I am out or almost out of and will definitely buy. The rest of my shopping is what I like to call “opportunistic shopping” (or perhaps “grazing” would be a better word?) — I stroll the aisles of the store and pick up items based on what looks good, what is on sale, or what  piques my curiosity. I try to rely on my memory to avoid overstocking (which apparently doesn’t always work as well as I’d like).

I don’t have to take something just because it is free – Even if I think I am saving it from the trash, better it go directly there than to let it take up space here and eventually get thrown out anyway. It goes against my instinct to not waste food, but so be it. All incoming food should be selected with the same care as food I buy. If I don’t need it or wouldn’t buy it, why should I take it for free?

What about you?

Do you have any tips or techniques that help you keep your pantry pandemonium and cupboard clutter in check? Or your own story of excess edibles? Please share them in the comments.