The Definition of Minimalism


When we think about minimalism we also need to think about its polar opposite, clutter. Many people think of clutter as a mess and minimalism as extreme neatness. Please feel free to argue differently, but in my opinion there really isn’t a static definition as to what minimalism is because each minimalist has a different experience with it.


Minimalism is not a one size fits all type of practice, but comes in more of a variety of shapes and sizes. One person who calls themselves a minimalist might have sold most of their belongings so that they could backpack around the world and collect experiences instead of things. Another person who is a minimalist might live in an average sized house with a number of material things that they feel is necessary for them to live comfortably. These are only two definitions of minimalism and they are both valid. In the end, minimalism is a lifestyle choice and every life is different and unique.


In my own experience with living with clutter, I didn’t know I was living with it until I moved away to college three years ago. When I moved I had a fair bit of stuff including a lot of extra clothing I never wore, an entire bookshelf filled with books, and little trinkets I would never use. I never thought twice about packing all of this stuff into boxes and moving it to my new apartment with me. Over the first six months of college, I collected more stuff, especially those small free gifts from the college with the college’s logo on them. I didn’t think I owned much stuff until one day I watched a YouTube video form a young minimalist and I started to reevaluate the things that owned and the choices I made. I started going through my stuff and making more conscious decisions when I went shopping. I started trying to reduce the amount of waste I produced and the impact I had on the environment. The point is everyone goes through a unique journey, there is probably someone out there who has a story similar to mine, but not exactly like it.  


Although there is not really one definition of minimalism, there are different types of minimalism. I could write an endless list of all of the different and unique types of minimalism, but I think there are five basic themes.

The Sustainable Minimalist

This is the type of minimalist that really values the world around them and wants to be as eco-friendly as possible. This minimalist might repurpose things, buy used instead of new, donate things they no longer need instead of throwing it away, or they might even be a vegetarian or vegan (like me!).

The Essentials Minimalist

This Minimalist believes in quality over quantity. They own only what they need, and it’s probably built to last. They might have a basic wardrobe with seven days worth of clothes for all seasons and a good pair of semi-casual shoes, but that’s all they need.

The Comfortable Minimalist

This is that person I mentioned earlier who lives in the average sized house with a good amount of material things. This person is still a minimalist, even though they might have more stuff then the last guy. They have just enough to live comfortably without restricting themselves, and nothing more.

The Collector of Memories

This minimalist is out to experience life to the absolute fullest. This is the guy who is backpacking around the world because he simply can. He is collecting experiences, not things.

The Pinterest Minimalist

This person is in it for the aesthetic. This means they love they look of minimalism. They choose this as a lifestyle because they want their life to resemble a Pinterest photo. This is not a bad thing at all, all jokes aside, its great to have a style that you love no matter where your inspiration comes from. I to reference Pinterest often.

So now I ask you, what is your opinion about minimalism? Do you believe there is one static definition, or is it fluid? Are you a minimalist already or is this your first time hearing of it? What type if minimalist are you? Leave your answers in the comments!

4 thoughts on “The Definition of Minimalism

  1. Very well explained! I have never tried to become a minimalist but I think the concept of these types of lifestyles are appealing. Maybe someday when I live on my own, I can adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Have you had to live with non-minimalists while being one? If so, how does that affect your lifestyle?

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