I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been doing okay at keeping up with minimalism. We did a goodwill drop off last week, and I’ve starting to bike to work 2 to 3 times a week. Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to motivate and challenge my minimalism. One of the ideas that I’d like to expand on is channeling minimalism directly into charity. Of course you have the obvious goodwill or charity donations of physical possessions, but even more involved than that, I’m thinking of a whole anti-consumerism smashing homelessness and poverty type of scenario. More specifically, by doing things like saying I’ll bike into work instead of drive three days a week and giving the saved gas money to an environmental charity and tracking it for impact analysis, not just in an I’m so good, look at me king of way…. I think.
Other ideas for channeling minimalism into charity are:
1. Saying no gifts on your birthday and specifying a charity (this is a tough one because some people just like to get and give gifts)
2. When you get the urge to buy something you don’t need, donate that same amount! And if you really really want something, match the price with a donation of the same amount or item to make it more pricey for you to really think about whether you need it enough to pay double for it. This is similar to the toms idea only self directed and less gimmicky.
3. Instead of that latte or coffee drink buy some fair trade coffee in bulk and donate and track the amount saved.
4. Instead of watching a commercial, read an ethics blog, or better yet watch that commercial, analyze whether it’s consumeristic or not and critique your brain’s reaction to it and redirect your thoughts. If the commercial was for a highly gendered up charged product focusing on insecurities, find an charity that combats that.
5. When you get a raise, if possible try to divide the increase into goals like a third for charity, a third for debt, and a third for travel. You were surviving before the raise, hopefully, so this should be painless if you catch it. I realize it’s not safe to assume everyone has a job much less gets raises, but I am merely trying to point out that if you have a job and are set in your spending habits, raises are the easiest point to step in and curb consumerism and give the extra to charity or debt reduction. It’s crucial to catch this point before lifestyle adjustments are made in a consumeristic direction.
6. Instead of buying books for yourself, buy ebooks for your local library and then check them out! No physical hoarding, and community knowledge is enriched.
7. Instead of upgrading and throwing out everything in your house at the first sign of use or decline, wait another couple months or year or maybe realize you don’t need a replacement and donate or buy that item for the needy or homeless. For example, the rug in my bathroom faded and scrunched up all the time. I just decided I don’t really need a rug there at all…
8. When it comes to food, maybe don’t get those extra junky sugar processed foods, and give that money saved to a charity that focuses on feeding the hungry. You weren’t getting any nutrition from the cheese-its or candy anyway.
9. Going out for drinks? Maybe don’t get that second or third drink and save the money to give to a charity involved with drug or alcohol addiction and rehabilitation.
10. Along the same lines, if you feel depressed and are looking to shopping for a quick pick me up, instead give $5 to charity involved with depression.
The whole overarching idea is that any negative stemming from consumerism can be turned into a positive that combats that destructive or hindering force in your life. I know people say “ohh if I go out to eat and shop I’ll help the economy and create more jobs”. Make no mistake, if you buy unnecessary items in excess, the top dog guy man on a yacht is getting the majority of your money. Now I have no problem with yachts, but wouldn’t you rather have all your energy, money and resources flowing toward the common good while curbing you insecurity based consumerism, instead of the 5-20% that is trickle down economics. However keep in mind that experiences, memories, and relationships are always to be valued even at the expense of money because after all, your life matters too! The difference is cheap shot insecurity induced items that clog and hoard up your life, space, and mental capacity.
I don’t think detailed tracking is absolutely needed, but I do think it’d be helpful to gauge the whole cumulative impact of shifting from consumerism to minimalism and then following the further progression into charity, humanity and the common community good.