All, Lifestyle, Zero Waste & Minimalism

Review: Stuffocation by James Wallman

Hi there dear readers, today I wanted to introduce a new topic on this blog: minimalism. My interest in this started a couple of years ago when I moved into a tiny dorm room. This meant that I could only take a small fraction of the stuff that I had accumulated over the years, forcing me to rethink what I owned. About half a year ago, I stumbled onto Stuffocation and felt compelled to read it. Here are my thoughts…

Stuffocation is a pretty comprehensive book. Wallman explains how we got to be a throw-away culture and points out how this is mentally and physically draining us. This needs to change, but how? He then goes on to describe a lot of case studies and collected data regarding this issue. His findings are that the best way to deal with our current condition is to focus on experience over stuff: ‘experientialism‘. This means less stuff, more freedom, more memories and more overall happiness. A nice message.

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When Wallman talks about minimalism, he kind of rejects it. He says that when you focus on having less stuff, you again focus on stuff and thus not on experience. A valid point, yet I don’t fully agree. Let me explain. The first thing most minimalists do is purge; throw out a large portion of their material possessions. Things like the minimalism game, in which you throw away one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second day of the month and so on, or the KonMari-method, in which you purge your items per category, are popular ways of doing this. I find it true that the proces of riding your home of unnecessary items does temporarily make you refocus on these particular items, however I also found that every purged item clears your home and in consequence your mind, making you focus not less but MORE on experience.

I found this a fascinating book with an interesting history of how society got to be this way, what the consequences are and a lot of in depth examples of different ways in which people try to deal with this. I love the concept of ‘experientialism‘, buying books for the experience of reading them and not for the purpose of owning them, spending your money on traveling instead of a new tv, going to the cinema instead of buying new earrings…

Would I recommend this book? Yes, the core message is great and it is also very informative especially if you are new to this lifestyle. I do think that the book would have been a bit more powerful had it been about 70 pages shorter as it tends to be a bit too heavy on the anecdotes and examples. I enjoyed how well written and researched this book is and am interested to read more books and blogs about this topic.

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