Tuesday, February 17, 2015

clutter at critical mass

in the past two weeks, i came across two memorable articles.  both articles point to the fact that society's clutter has reached a point where more and more people are either taking up minimalism to re-gain their lives, or they are making a living off those people who are trying to implement minimalism.

if you go back 100 years, people possessed things for either utility's sake or for status' sake.  the great depression created economic scarcity.  people who lived through the great depression ended up hoarding or at least developed the sense to hold on to things for a long time.  as technology progressed, the old went out and the new came in.  families handed down electronics and furniture; children felt compelled to hold onto possessions their parents or grandparents gave them.  as more time passed, our possessions began to bury us; in some cases literally.

and now in 2015, we find ourselves in a post-scarcity economy, where having little to no possessions is now a symbol of status.  as this nytimes opinion states, "in some well-off circles, people boast about how little they own" and more of the "richest americans [are] increasingly consum[ing] expensive experiences - like a trip to bhutan - rather than material goods."

in 2015, we are also seeing how people can become professional dumpster divers.  big box retailer stores are so well off, that returned items can be easily discarded in dumpsters.  savvy people who are quick on the draw can retrieve these items before the dump truck arrives, repair or simply resell the items on an alternative market.  this wired article, towards the end of the column, estimates a professional dumpster diver could make $600,000 a year!  this is a rather extraordinary way to make money off people (businesses) shedding excess.  the more common approach to make money off minimalism is to garner a following, write a book and then sell it.

any search on the internet or twitter or amazon will return results of people who are either writing about this movement or people who are willing to sell their consulting expertise on how to de-clutter and minimize their life.

in summary, i find the whole of it quite interesting.

image source: instagram emma.putnam_

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