• Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com •
Introduction. Minimalism is a practice that goes way backin history. However, the interest in the “Modern Minimalism” as it is today, has grown exponentially over the last 10-20 years or so. Witnessing this growth over the years leads us to ask why and how minimalism has grown so much over the last decade or more? As someone that has been practicing minimalism for well over a decade+ and witnessed the changes in the amount of people wanting to participate in the lifestyle, I have seen four main reasons that minimalism has grown and become mainstream. These four contributing factors are:
- The Internet with its Blogs and Websites
- The Interest and growth in the Tiny House_Movement
- The Trends that have been introduced to the minimalist community and general public which encouraged first-hand participation in Minimalism.
- Media – Availability of books on the topic as well as TV programs
Around the year 2000, the President of the US announced that the government would give rebates to anyone that purchased a home computer that year. Why would this be done? It was done to make more homes in the US have home computers. Back at this time, few homes had computers. With this rebate, the number of homes having computers increased dramatically within a few years so that the majority of homes in the US had at least one computer in the households.
How did this increase in computers effect the internet and the overall computer usage? There was a huge growth in the number of people that had personal emails to share information about their day-to-day lives. Also, the internet began to have more websites and even blogs. Blogs became very popular during this time. So, if someone had an interest in a certain subject, he or she usually could find at least a few blogs and / or websites on what he or she was interested in reading about.
As far as minimalism, there were numerous blogs and websites being added in these early days of the internet and our “Modern Minimalism” of today. In regards to minimalism, there were three websites / blogs that inspired its readers and helped to get them interested in decluttering and the minimalist lifestyle. The first website was the Flylady website (www.flylady.net) by Marla Cilley. The Flylady often spoke about decluttering your home. She spoke about the importance of decluttering and to make a regular routine of doing it.
Mrs. Cilley normalized the conversation and act of regular and consistent decluttering to her Flylady Community as well as her readers in her freelance articles. By bringing decluttering to the forefront of conversations, the Flylady helped to bring the idea of creating a better life by means of decluttering. This led her community and readers towards considering and enacting the lifestyles of Simple Living as well as the Minimalist Lifestyle.
There are two, additional blogs / websites / social media accounts, that came along some years after Flylady, that have made additional, notable contributions and an impact to helping others learn about the world of minimalism. Both blogs / websites, along with their social media accounts, do so by talking about their approaches to beginning and maintaining the Minimalist Lifestyle. Joshua Becker of the website, “Becoming Minimalist” (www.becomingminimalist.com), has been an avid and continuous voice to the education and growth of minimalist movement of today.
Mr. Becker began his minimalist journey while cleaning out his garage.1 After speaking to a neighbor who had knowledge of minimalism, Mr. Becker decided that he wanted to adopt this lifestyle; being tired of dealing with the extra clutter that he had such as what was in his garage.2 Since that time, Mr. Becker has been a devoted Minimalist. As he grew and became more experience with minimalism, he wanted to share the lifestyle with others. Throughout the years of Mr. Becker’s writings about minimalism, he has firmly established himself as one of the leading experts and contributors of the minimalist community.
Another leading contributor to the minimalist lifestyle were two men, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who coined themselves and their website, “The Minimalists” (www.theminimalists.com). Mr. Nicodemus began his journey into minimalism by packing up everything that he owned into boxes.3 He decided that whatever he had not used or missed within a predetermined amount of time would be donated and removed from his home.4 As for Mr. Nicodemus started to enjoy the benefits of the Minimalist Lifestyle, he began sharing what he had done with his close friend, Joshua Fields Millburn.5
After seeing the success that Mr. Nicodemus had with his home, Mr. Fields Millburn followed suit and repeated the same process in his home as well.6 He found the same success as his friend.7 They both became so happy and enthusiastic with their results, they made other changes in their lives and eventually began their website/blog. Since beginning their website/blog and social media accounts, they have become one of the leading voices and authorities in the Minimalist Lifestyle.
The Tiny House Movement.
As the Minimalist Lifestyle became more known, there was another movement growing as well; that of Tiny House Living. Of course, both lifestyles compliment each other, going hand-in-hand. There were various members of the Tiny House Community, however, there is one person who lived in and wrote about her experiences living in a Tiny House that stood out. Tammy Strobel became widely known for her writings on her website/blog, Rowdy Kittens (www.rowdykittens.com). There, she described her experiences in decluttering and preparing to downsize from an apartment into a Tiny House.8
She also would write and give updates throughout the time that she and her husband were having their Tiny House built.9 It was during these updates that Mrs. Strobel would include photos throughout the different stages of their Tiny House’s building process.10 Eventually, their Tiny House was finished and Mrs. Strobel and her husband got their new home situated and they moved in.11 Mrs. Strobel continued writing and sharing photos of their Tiny House – giving her readers a first-hand look into the life of Tiny House Living.12 She not only described how she and her husband adjusted to their new home, but also how their two cats lived within the home and played in the yard where they established their Tiny House.13 Through showing her life in her Tiny House, Mrs. Strobel gave her readers the insight and alternate experience of what Tiny House Living was about, along with its many benefits.
Trends: First – The 100 Item Challenge.
Another factor that helped to bring Minimalism into the frontlines of the mainstream public were trends. Certain trends have been popular among the Minimalist Community as well as those interested in the lifestyle. One example of such a trend was the “100 Item Challenge”. The “100 Item Challenge” was about trying to see if the person taking on the challenge could reduce all of their belongings to 100 items or less. To be truly successful with the challenge, not only did the person being challenged need to reduce their items, but he or she would need to be able to live his or her life consistently with their remaining 100 items.
This challenge became really popular, especially with those that were young, single adults. As some of those taking the challenge became successful with the challenge, they opened blogs and sometimes social media accounts, to complement their blogs to make their experiences available to a wider audience. They then began writing about their experiences of the challenge and how they lived with only this number of items.
There were even some that would go traveling since they had such few items to deal with. Their blogs would show photos of their travels and would describe how they packed and dealt with all of their belongings. Many of these blogs dealing with a form of “Extreme Minimalism” were very popular.
The “100 Item Challenge” trend was one that got a lot of attention which helped the minimalist community and everyday people, that may not have been previously interested, focus on Minimalism. It made them also begin to ask themselves how much they truly needed to live a happy, satisfying life as well as how much they could declutter to reach those two goals.
Second Trend – Family Minimalism & Traveling.
A second trend during this time was where couples and families would declutter and sell all, if not most of their belongings. Many doing this trend also sold their homes or would rent them out so that their families did not have anything preventing them and their families from traveling. Many of these families also started blogs (and sometimes social media accounts) describing their experiences with decluttering, how they felt about giving up most of their belongings and would then include their family traveling as a new lifestyle. They would also describe how their various family members dealt with this extreme form of minimalism.
Because couples and families were drawn to this trend, it also became an early form of Family Minimalism. Even though Family Minimalism today does not usually go to this extreme in general, the Family Minimalists from a decade or more ago still share many of the same desires and goals with today’s Family Minimalists. Both want/wanted to create a Minimalist Lifestyle that would suit their families’ needs and keep clutter from interfering with the happiness of their lives.
Third Trend – Project 333.
A third, popular trend that helped contribute to the furthering of minimalism become well-known is Project 333 (https://becomemorewithless.com/) Project 333 was created by Courtney Carver.14 Ms. Carver created Project 333 as a way to minimize her wardrobe.15 The way that Project 333 works is that the person taking on the challenge remove and separate their clothing from their closet.16 For the challenge, there are certain clothing exempt; that do not count as part of the 33 chosen items17:
- Underwear / Bras / Slips / Socks / Nylons / Tights, etc.
- Workout Clothes18
What is included in the count of the 33 items are:
- Fall / Winter / Spring Jackets, Coats, Gloves, Scarves, Hats, etc.
The clothes are separated into a way that helps identify the person’s favorite and most versatile pieces so that they can be made to mix-and-match into as many different outfits that work together as possible.20 He or she will then box up any remaining clothing pieces after identifying items to donate or trash.21 The person then taking on the challenge will commit to only wearing the chosen 33 pieces for the next 3 months.22 After the 3 months is over, the person taking on the challenge will repeat the same process, and so on.23 Eventually, by continuously working on the Project 333 challenge, the person is able to declutter and minimize their items to the best, most functional pieces of their choosing.24
Project 333 became a well-known trend back 10+ years ago.25 It was one that helped people see that having fewer items did not equate with having fewer, workable outfits to wear.26 This was one trend that helped bring attention to Minimalism; making it an important one amongst the top, notable, Minimalist trends. The trends that arose for Minimalism helped both the Minimalist community and the general public. For those that were already Minimalists, the trends helped to ensure that they were not becoming stagnant in their current lifestyle. It helped them to continue to evaluate their individual belongings and question their usefulness of these possessions in their lives.
For the general, everyday person, couples and families, these trends challenged them. It gave them an opportunity to actively participate in the Minimalist Lifestyle; helping them to either “Dip their Toes In” or dive fully into the life of a Minimalist. When trying out, if the Minimalist Lifestyle felt comfortable and right, then these individuals, couples and families ended up permanently adopting the lifestyle.
The other area that helped bring minimalism out to the general public enough so that it became a generally-known lifestyle was due to the media. Examples of this type of media would include items such as magazine articles, books, audiobooks and television programs, etc. Over the last decade, in particular, books about Minimalism have grown in leaps and bounds. One of the biggest contributors to writing about the Minimalist Lifestyle were bloggers.
With their experiences living in this lifestyle and becoming comfortable writing about it through their blogs, websites and possible social media accounts, it makes sense then, that they would want to write about it. The beginnings of self-publishing through companies such as Amazon, made this even more possible. Eventually, many books were also being made into audiobooks. With the availability being made into different formats, more people had access to learning more about the Minimalist Lifestyle.
The other form of media giving exposure to the Minimalist Lifestyle was television. Several channels, such as Home and Lifestyle ones like HGTV (“Tiny House Hunters”27, 28), FYI Network and A&E’s (“Tiny House Nation”29, 30), The Style Network’s (“Clean House”31, 32) and TLC’s (“Clean Sweep”33, 34) made shows early on about decluttering, simplifying and on Minimalism. At first, there were just a few individual programs that were put on, but as interest of the lifestyle grew, so did the number of programs grow.
Eventually, there were whole television shows, such as “Clean Sweep” – (2003 to 2005)35, “Clean House” – (2003 to 2011)36, “Tiny House Nation” – (2014 to 2019)37, and “Tiny House Hunters” – (2014 to present)38, that began to be aired. Usually these shows and ones like them showcase decluttering, cleaning, organizing and redecorating. These shows emphasized the importance of decluttering and would show how having “too much stuff” would clog up our homes and lives. These shows became very popular over the last 10 – 20 years. Due to popular television channels shining a focus on Minimalism, many people in the general public grew aware and began adapting their lives to become Minimalists, or at least, to simplify their lives.
In addition to formal television shows like the ones on HGTV, TLC, The Style Network, and the FYI Network and A&E, there was also an informal channel that gave additional information on Minimalism. Over the last decade+, YouTube has given a firsthand, grassroots-type of exposure to the Minimalist Lifestyle. Viewers could go on to YouTube at any time of the day or night and watch other people – just like themselves decluttering, cleaning and organizing their homes. They could see the differences in their spaces. They could also hear about how the person, couple or family felt, and how it impacted his, her or their families’ lives. Time and again, they would feel that their lives had become happier, easier, and more fulfilled due to Minimalism.
Having the availability and access to see others’ Minimalist, personal accounts and experiences, helped to increase the education of Minimalism in general. It also encouraged the viewers to at least consider trying out the Minimalist Lifestyle to see if this lifestyle would work for them; resulting in a growth in the Minimalist community as well as causing continuous interest in Minimalism overall. It continues to have this effect to this day.
Minimalism has been around for many, many years and has gone through many transitions on what it affects or concentrates on, etc.39 Keeping this in mind, the last 10-20+ years has had a profound effect on how Minimalism is today as well as how it has become mainstream to the everyday, general public. Through the use of technology in particular, Minimalism has gone from a mostly, relatively unknown topic, generally-speaking, to become a subject that the average person knows of and has some knowledge about.
Through the use of blogs and websites discussing Minimalism, it became easier to spread the word about it. Trends that were shown on the blogs and websites helped generate further interest in Minimalism – even by some people that otherwise may not have considered it. These trends helped to create excitement for the Minimalist Movement. From the most popular to the smaller-known blogs and websites, each were taking part in the “Overall Conversation” on Minimalism.
In addition, during the same timeframe, interest in the Tiny House Movement coincided and intermingled with the Minimalist conversations going on in the internet as well as in the media – such as magazine articles, books, audiobooks and television shows. Together, the Minimalist and Tiny House Movements furthered each other in the public’s eye. Due to the culmination of the Internet’s blogs and websites, the Tiny House Movement, Trends and the Media, the Minimalist Movement transitioned into the “Modern Minimalism” that we see today.
If you are a Minimalist, how long have you been on your Minimalist journey? If you are choosing to create a Simple Living Lifestyle, how long have you been on your journey?
Please leave your thoughts on Minimalism and Simple Living in the Comments’ section below, we would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Thank you for visiting Simplicity’s Journey. Take care and see you again soon!
Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
1, 2 – Becoming Minimalist: https://becomingminimalist.com/
3-7 – The Minimalists: https://theminimalists.com/
8-13 – Rowdy Kittens: https://rowdykittens.com/
14-26 – Project 333 – (Trend – 2010): https://bemorewithless.com/project-333-challenge
YouTube Channel – My Green Closet – Project 333: https://youtu.be/fUbeF0Cz9o0/
27, 28, 38 – Tiny House Hunters: https://www.hgtv.com/shows/tiny-house-hunters/
29, 30, 37 – Tiny House Nation: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_House_Nation/
31, 32, 36 – Clean House: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_House/
33-35 – Clean Sweep: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Sweep/
39 – Minimalism – (Brief History & Influences): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism