Minimalism in Berlin: The best hypocrisy

As mainstream as Marie Kondo, as expensive as the White Company Pyjamas and Jo Malone home diffusers.

What is minimalism apart from another Instagram based trend which seems to have aligned itself with avocado toast and acai bowls?

My first real acknowledgement of minimalism as a concept was a documentary my dad showed me on Netflix once. I’m pretty sure I had ASOS up on my laptop at the time, and I think I only got about 30mins into the documentary before I was done. Since then I think ‘minimalism’ as a word has become more ‘mainstream’ in the sense that we’re all seeing it getting flung about more than ever before. To top it all off and bring the world ‘minimalism’ to it’s highest ever popularity, earlier this year Marie Kondo hit our screens. Tidying, sorting and cleaning has never been more fashionable than in 2019.

And few places fit this new cool ‘minimalist’ wave more than Berlin. Pull your white socks up, roll your expensive ‘retro’ bike out and get ready to get your hands dirty pulling everything out of that wardrobe.

2019 Minimalism.

I use the term ‘this minimalism’ a lot as what we’re talking about isn’t minimalism. Having white walls and an storing your clothes on bio-wooden-organic-expensive hangers placed artistically on an ‘open wardrobe’ doesn’t actually fit the brief. The original brief at least.

I think it’s important to get one thing straight, the type of ‘minimalism’ we see splattered all over Instagram nowadays isn’t actually a representation of the word or lifestyle at all. As one article put it really well… ‘It’s quite simple: to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, you can’t own a car or a home or a television, you can’t have a career, you must live in exotic hard-to-pronounce places all over the world, you must start a blog, you can’t have children, and you must be a young white male from a privileged background.‘ Of course we’re being ironic, this isn’t what minimalism is actually about but now many of us are being made to believe otherwise.

Whilst it must be applauded if people genuinely want to reduce their consumption and make active steps to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, this phrase is now being used as a marketing tool to promote the exact opposite; consumption. Minimal is cool, and now companies all over the place are catching on and capitalising on this to make profits. Even flats marketed as ‘minimalist’ are turning up on WG-gesucht for hundreds, overpriced and overrated, and completely off the original manifesto. Sadly, even those people with the best of intentions when trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle may find themselves far off from where they wanted to end up.

Why does it fit so well here?

…Because a lot of people are already buying into this lifestyle. Spending extortionate amounts of money to have a feeling of self satisfaction, to have less and to post about it more. So, who can take part? This kind of ‘minimalism’ in Berlin especially seems like an exclusive club, you’re free to take part…if you can afford it. Want that raw-vegan, ‘minimalist’ WG-room in Prenzlauer Berg? Then just sell a kidney and you should be able to scrape together enough money for a deposit. This is salty and a little over the top but I’m sure many of us in Berlin -and maybe other places too?- can see some tiny truths in all of this somewhere. ‘Minimalism’ or at least the 2019 version has become more about being ‘better’ than others, feeling a little high and mighty and being part of the club of people who have the money to do the same things.

Back to basics

…In every sense of the phrase! Here’s why taking steps towards living a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle is good:

Ultimately, how we all live our lives is down to personal choice, but whether you want to move towards a minimal lifestyle or not, sustainable choices are important and easy to achieve. Saying ‘no’ to fast fashion, or at least thinking twice about what you buy and where you buy it from is really important.

Here’s some small steps we can all make:

  1. Think twice before buying impulse purchases.
  2. When you do buy purchases try to buy from brands which actively give back in some way. (https://www.flamingoslife.com/ for example is a really ethical and super nice shoe company)
  3. Educate ourselves! There’s always more to learn! Below are a few articles to read about minimalism. Too tired to read? Just type in ‘minimalism’ on Netflix! 😉

https://everydaypower.com/why-embrace-minimalist-lifestyle/

https://medium.com/the-understanding-project/minimalism-will-not-make-you-happier-627c83c788e8

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/finding-minimalism/

https://nosidebar.com/why-minimalism/

4. Talk about it! Talking amongst friends, sharing tips and knowledge can really help us make more conscious decisions. Remember: Chatting>Preaching!

There are 10000s of other ways and reasons to become more minimalist or to lead a more sustainable lifestyle so if you feel empowered have a google and see what else you can get up to!

Minimalism should not just be for the few.

And it really doesn’t have to be! Minimalism is a great concept and something that we can all learn at least a little from so I urge us all to try and forget the ‘minimalism’ we see all over the Instagram and to start getting the concept back to basics and learning how we can improve our health whilst living more sustainably. Its a win-win!

-Aimée

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