I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts and watching a lot of YouTube videos featuring tours of minimalistic homes recently, and possibly my favourite bit – the shot that almost gives me a dirty-feeling thrill – is when the bathroom storage cupboard is opened and there’s like one spare toilet roll and a shampoo bottle in there. And nothing else. “I only shop when I need to”, says the zen-like minimalist. And for a long time, I thought this was what I was aiming for, I thought that this was a realistic short-term-ish goal for me. I want visitors to peek in my medicine cabinet and find only nail clippers and two toothbrushes (seriously, where do all my toothbrushes come from?!?!), I want to have so much space in my pantry that the vegetable box becomes a viable location during hide and seek, but you know, the more I learn about minimalism and my life, I just don’t see this style of living and shopping working out for me – at least in the short term – and here’s why.
1. Lack of immediate availability of a lot of cruelty-free/ ethical brands.
There are all different kinds of minimalism and all different reasons that folks are drawn to a more simple life. For some people, it’s about aesthetics or having the right ‘feeling’ in their home – for a lot of these people, it’s easier to shop “only as needed” because they can just pick up whatever from the store. For me, and many others, my minimalism goes hand in hand with my desire to consume less, and to make more ethical consumer choices – the downside of this, however, is that a lot of the brands and items I’ll be using, I don’t have day to day access to. Take the cruelty-free, drugstore cosmetics brand Essence, for example. I plan to purchase a lot of ‘staple’ items like mascara and brow gel from them, but the nearest store for me to buy it in is 50 miles away. Now, while I do find myself in this town, we’re talking a couple of times a year, so yeah, within reason I am going to have to ‘stock-up’ a little on those visits because I can’t just run out of mascara 3 weeks later and grab something from Boots.
2. My Anxiety
You know how for the majority of people, going into a store and buying shampoo just isn’t a thing? Well for me, with my anxiety, it can be. As silly as I’m sure it will sound, my anxiety gets bad when I start feeling like I “have” to do lots of things – now, of course, some of those things like going to work, are things that I “have” to do and I just need to suck that up… somehow. Problems occur however, when I’ve also run out of shampoo that morning AND I NEED TO WASH MY HAIR THAT NIGHT… etc. My anxiety can get bad to the point where I can’t leave the house, let alone face going into a crowded city centre to do some shopping. For this reason I can never leave essentials until they run out to the point of being ‘needed’; for me it just creates far too much pressure, and also, potentially, a lot of greasy hair.
3. The Need to Budget
While sometimes I sure wish it was otherwise, I really do need to stick to a budget – a very tight budget at the moment in fact. The reality is that, while having entire cupboard full of shower gel isn’t a good idea (trust me, I’ve been there), there is also some sense in purchasing consumable items you know you’re going to use, a few at a time when a good offer is on – expiry dates permitting of course. For the past couple of years I’ve kept spreadsheets tracking my consumable items (toothpaste, deoderant, hair gel… it’s an exciting spreadsheet) and how long it takes me to use them, as well as tagging on reviews for different items, so that I don’t re-buy a toothpaste I hated the first time around. This means that I can safely order 5 deoderants when they’re half price and know I LOVE that brand and that Kenny and I will use them up. Sure it’s annoying to open drawers and see 5 bars of soap stacked up, but I’m really not in a position to turn down 50% off prices on items we need.
How about you – how does your shopping style fit in with your minimalism? Any tips for me on how to streamline the whole process?