Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thriftiness and minimalism - a return to conscientious living

I have been reading a lot about the minimalist movement in recent times, and the ethos really resonates with me. I know that in many places the post war 50's and 60's spawned the beginnings of consumerism and the obsession we have with owning stuff today. But I also observed a very different approach to life after the second world war shown in the life of my grandmother. She had lived through not only the war, but the great depression as well, and it stayed with her all her life. Grandma would often tell me to thread new elastic in my underpants when the old perished, she home baked everything - and grew a goodly part of what she cooked with -  she kept all her furniture from when she married in the 1940's through to her retirement with Grandpa in the 1990's, only updating her black and white TV when colour came in and even then kept it for Grandpa to watch out in the sunroom. As a child I often played with old stockings (they made great reigns for make believe games of horse and carriages with my sister), and scribbled drawings on butchers paper that had wrapped Grandma's lamb chops when purchased, and she really didn't have anything in her home that wasn't necessary for her way of life. That said, she also kept anything that was useful, like the afore mentioned butchers paper wrapping and old stockings for her grandchildren. My Grandmother was a fine example of thrift and economy, and I for one recall her life as being extremely beautiful, simple and wholesome (albeit hardworking).
So, the minimalist movement - is it similar? Well, yes in some ways and no in others.
The term "minimalist" is often applied colloquially to designate anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials.
The movement occurring worldwide at the moment is focused on the bare essentials - living with only what is necessary and therefore, removing consumer stress and the ill understood desire to 'have' so prevalent today. By association, minimalism also allows the participant to tread lightly on the planet, be thrifty, save money and enjoy the little things that often get overlooked. As opposed to my grandmothers way of life, which arose out of desire for a frugal personal economy and diligence while still allowing for treats and occasional indulgences,  minimalism reduces living down to the purest bare essentials. Have a look at the wonderful blogs listed below and draw your own conclusions.

The Minimalists
The Minimalists
Inside-Out Simplicity
Becoming Minimalist
Be more with less
As for me, my aspiration is to live as self sufficiently as possible. I am not devoted to the idea of doing without out of principal, but rather, to the idea of living purely and simply - off the land, with the land, in harmony with all living things.

I would like a comfortable, creative home, but I would like it without having to burn fossil fuels to do so. I would like a scatter cushion or two on my couch, but I would like to avoid unenvironmentally sourced fabrics and materials to do so. I love love love pretty clothes, but I don't think I have to buy into fast fashion when I can wear the darling dresses that belonged to my grandmother, or the pride infused garments I have made myself, from vintage fabric found in op shops.

I long to have the time to grow and make my own everything, and I adore the idea of reading classic books together of an evening instead of chowing down to take away and the latest Big Brother offering.....cringe ! To ultimately offer a place of peace, restoration and tranquillity (albeit with satisfying hard work - just like I watched my grandmother do) for myself, my family and friends. Surely its not all that much to ask of a simple humble life?

So let me say - if there are any single, dashing, skilled and well read men out there that share this ideal (!) then I would love to get to know you ...... This is the kind of dream that is better shared !

May you be inspired by these minimalist blogs. May our dreams and aspirations take us all, baby step by baby step, into a better world.

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