Thursday, September 23, 2010


     The term “minimalist” is somewhat of a new one to me.  I’ve heard it in passing, but never really paid it much mind until recently.  The more I research and practice the ideas of survival prep the more I see minimalism and preparation, in Manhattan, being a perfect fit.  The concept is an old one to me, having lived most of my life so far with the belief that I don’t want, and sure don’t need much to survive.  I find it rather enjoyable not having many possessions as it is extremely freeing and I suggest it to all.  It definitely makes it easy to keep stock of things, and though I do enjoy my apartment and my possessions, I’m not bound to them and can leave it all behind without much hesitation.  I believe that it is very important not to be attached to the objects of your life, or they will control you.

     Learning how to be a minimalist in N.Y.C. is probably easier than New Yorker's realize as most of us in some way or another already are.  We tend to have small living spaces, we keep limited supplies (which is, in my opinion, a recipe for disaster), and we very rarely have more things then we need.  This limited space requires us to keep only the necessary items.  We learn how to conserve space by proper use of shelving and innovative storage options i.e. raised beds, or making use of high ceilings.  Space is a hot commodity here that people pay top dollar for.

     A good portion of us do not have cars in the city.  If you do own a car, one of the first, and greatest things you can do for yourself as a downsizing budding minimalist is to get rid of your car.  Not only do you save a ton of money on no longer paying for gas, insurance, and upkeep, (not to mention if you don’t own the car and make payments on it tsk tsk) but you are also reducing your carbon footprint.  On top of the fact by now walking, or using the bike to commute, you have a constant activity to keep you in great shape (which by the way, is also very important to survival.)  The money saved by not having a car alone could easily help you build an effective survival cache.  Every day in the city you see more and more people making use of our excellent and ever expanding bike lanes (bikes by the way are perfect survival gear for New Yorker’s, but more on that in a later post.)  New York also has the world’s best, if not sometimes flawed, mass transit systems, and there are sidewalks and walking paths everywhere.

     By adopting some minimalist views you can save even more money by dropping your standard of living a bit.  Do you really need the apartment with the two bedrooms, and two bathrooms?  Now is a perfect time to get into a smaller more economical apartment.  Not only will it help to simplify your life, but it will help with another survival necessity, living debt free.  I know we already live in cramped conditions as opposed to the rest of the country, but take the time to consider how easy a smaller place is to clean, furnish, and afford.

     Making steps toward minimizing can be done immediately.  By slowly and methodically going through your closets, drawers, and storage singling out things you don’t need, or haven’t used in years.  My rule of thumb with clothes is if I have not wore it in a year I probably never will.  Certain items like tuxedos, suits, and ties might get a bit more leeway, but otherwise I promise you probably out grew them.  You have to ask yourself, how many suits do I really need?  How many purses do I need?  One of the best ways I have found to do a clean sweep of my items is by moving.  Moving in the city can be a real hassle, but you find that most of the items you own are not that important when you need to lug them up a 6 floor walk up.  But hey, I guess it can keep you in great shape!

     Start looking at your items in a new way.  I like to look for items that have more than one purpose.  Ask yourself, can this be of use to me in a survival/prep situation?  Most camping gear is definitely going to be useful.  A good portion of our day to day clothing is a bit iffy.  A lot of our city apartment dweller items probably won’t make the cut.  Now I’m not saying get rid of all the toys; T.V.’s, computers, and kickass stereo systems.  They all have their place in our day to day living, just try to remember to keep their size and cost reasonable.

     Selling items on Craigslist, pawn shops, or trade markets can make you some quick money and clear out some clutter.  Donating to a good cause, or giving items to friends can be a “good deed” and will defiantly make you feel good about yourself.  You can give items to some of the more important people in your life like your doctors, or local deli cashier as small tokens, or gifts.  Not only will they now like you more, but it will also get you in good graces.  Having a few key important people that like you are a must in a smaller survival scenario.  If you need medical attention, the doctor, who is now more of a friend, might rush to help you or your family first.  The deli may have run out of supplies to sell, but might be able to come up with something for you all thanks to the kindness you have showed in the past.  Being kind to all, and keeping your friends and neighbors close, may just save you and your family’s life when you need it most.

     Becoming a true minimalist doesn’t happen overnight.  The steps you take now to lessen your possessions and clean out the clutter of your life will help you in your survival preparation.  By letting go of the things that do not have a purpose in your life, and keeping the things that do, you will find that you appreciate the items you do have that much more.

      Here is a blog I follow that has some great advice on being a minimalist.  She also has a link page here that has amazing resources, links, and recommended articles.

     *Author's Edit*  I realized after I wrote this post that there is a bit of a contradiction.  Here I am writing about 'minimalism' when a good portion of this blog is about gear, and items.  I would like to make it clear that; the ideas behind minimalism are not about getting rid of all your possessions, but to limit the items that are useless and indulgent.  I believe in keeping as few items as possible, and letting go of all attachments to them.  The items I do choose to own have multiple uses that allow me to live a less cluttered and yet still comfortable life.  If one was to drop all the gifts of modern society and live as a hermit in the woods with nothing but their will and what Mother Earth provides, they would probably die young and alone. (As many of the frontiersmen did.  Their average lifespan was 32 years.) JV 


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