Minimalist Millennials

In a capitalist world marked by consumer excess, what better way to buck the status-quo than maintaining a minimalist lifestyle? At a time when property prices are skyrocketing, belts become ever-tighter, and millennials are responding with a stripped down approach to living.

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, brought minimalism into the limelight. While not a foreign concept, the Japanese movement has infiltrated the lives of countless bloggers, who document their escapades into minimalism.

‘Tiny homes,’ structures less than 300 square feet, are becoming the new demand. The public are becoming increasingly inspired to cut their wardrobes, donate their possessions and reduce their belongings down to fill the equivalent of a hand-luggage.

Those between the ages of 18-34 (i.e. ‘Millennials’) have developed a new set of value systems differing to the generation before them. Environmental consciousness, a desire for client-consumer transparency and a love of all things authentic has trickled into millennials’ behavior of how they choose to spend their money.

Growing up during the recession, we have entered a world of economic struggle, with a tough dog-eat-dog job market, an ever-piling amount of student debt and a nauseatingly competitive housing market. With smaller wallets and larger responsibilities, this generation gravitate towards a different style of life.

Helped by our familiarization with new technologies and social media platforms, us millennials would rather pay for an experience over cluttering material goods. We favour ethical, sustainable products over plastic crap which stockpiles in our cramped under-bed storage.

In 1930s, the average woman had only 35 pieces of clothing in her closet. Today, the average consumer has 120 items of clothing, but more than 80% go unworn. Capsule wardrobes are part of this liberatingly minimal lifestyle; interchangeable items which match one’s style and activities helps one free up time by saving excess energy wasted on the exasperating choice of what to wear.

The minimalist trend has permeated contemporary life more than one consciously realizes. Apple Pay, Uber, Smartphone technology… all this and more amount to wallets, paper cash and even cluttering paper receipts becoming a thing of the past. Travelling, concerts, and eating out becomes a new economy for gift exchanges. Time and money are precious to this new generation, and businesses are modelling themselves accordingly.

But when does this minimalist outlook become inhibiting in itself? Along with a newfound consciousness’s, discipline and restriction has come to define millennial consumer patterns. An awareness of one’s environmental impact has evolved in a cultural trend of guilt that lurks behind each purchase.

Ironically, with the overwhelming presence of online shopping, every item bought is either a binging, ‘excessive’ impulse or an overthought splurge and this disordered pattern of purchase intrudes every aspect of modern life, from the food on our plates to the experience we post online.

While minimal doesn’t have to be boring or pedantic, it does demand a large degree of cleverness. Simplicity doesn’t equate to a lack of life, however, buying a cheap crop top from New Look equally doesn’t make you a bad person with a sociopathic conscience and a carbon footprint of a Yeti.

As with everything, moderation becomes the key principle. Here are some tips as to how one can implement methods of minimalism at a time of year when consumerism is rife These are all inspired by “the minimalists” who created a post every day for a month regarding how they implemented a paired down lifestyle. Ultimately, the take home message is that we don’t need a thing to enjoy it: shift away from a culture of ownership to a culture of access.


  1. Essential wardrobe pieces.

A lightweight coat, a great black handbag, a smart-casual pair of walking shoes. Don’t worry about having every new pair of trainers, every capturing coat on a Zara mannequin. With these three items, you can go to most brunches, dinners and casual gatherings and fit the part.   


  1. Every possession should bring joy to your life.

When clearing up your house or even just your closet, ask yourself whether this item adds value to your life.  If you don’t know or can’t answer, chuck it out.


  1. Put things into drawers.

Having decluttered surfaces allows you to not only enjoy the aesthetics of your furniture and home but it also creates breathing space amongst the ‘things.’ Whatever doesn’t fit into a drawer/basket, whatever you don’t use regularly, should be given away.

  1. Make your bed everyday.

This should be a given of adulthood, but by making your bed every day you start your day with a small victory. Besides, who doesn’t like a ready-made bed to get into in the evening?

  1. Establish a morning routine

Meditating, stretching, reading, writing, coffee.

Reading, stretching, jogging, news, coffee.

Stretching, reading, breakfast, writing, coffee. 

  1. 90/90

If you’ve not worn/used it in the last 90 days, will you use it in the next? If not, give it away.

  1. Get a donation box

Keep it in the corner of your room and see how easy it is to fill. Try and give away at least one thing a month – this will get easier.

  1. Get rid of it

The easiest way to organize is by having less things to organize. Ditch the well-planned hoarding and focus on what is important to your life: relationships, experiences, and space.

  1. Let go

Let go of sentimental items that no longer give you joy. Enjoy fewer trinkets, get rid of dusty old train tickets and weird fancy dress items. Would you be benefitted if you let them go? Are they weighing you down?

  1. Digital clutter is also a thing

Once a month, organize the folders on your computer, delete excess photos, clear unused bookmarks. Use a backed-up archive and these excess files will be out of the way. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive – some ways you might have a cleaner digital world.