Going Minimalist: Is it Toxic to Shop at Ikea?
In this growing trend that is minimalism, it is sometimes hard to know where to draw the line. I have been finding myself feeling more and more guilty when I go shopping to giant companies like Ikea. Why is that so? Shopping there doesn’t seem to be fitting really well with minimalism and all those new ways of life, us, millennials are trying to implement. Then I remembered, going minimalist doesn’t mean to let go of every possession you have and withdraw from modern society. It’s more about finding out what adds value to your life and what doesn’t. As “The Minimalists” puts it :
“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
So to me, this means that it doesn’t matter where you shop as long as you buy items that add value into your life.
There was a reason I felt guilty when shopping at Ikea. Ikea has that weird power to make you buy a lot of crappy things each time you pay them a visit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ikea, I have bought awesome stuff there. I also did buy some items I didn’t even like or needed. Raise your hand if you have already found yourself getting out of there with 500 napkins, 300 candles, and 200 Tupperware. I usually buy those things out of frustration. Because I didn’t find what I was looking for in the first place and I want to make the trip worth it…Going minimalist in this world can be pretty challenging, so how can we avoid that basic consumerism behavior? I asked myself and came up with a few questions to ask yourself before buying something for the home.
1. Do you really need it?
Is it a question of survival? if the answer to that is no, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider buying anything. It just means that you should give it a thought in order to avoid the candles, napkins and Tupperware purchase… the following questions will help you to do so.
2. Do you genuinely like that piece?
It’s not always easy to know if you like something truly. But in the end, this is what matters, because if you are buying something out of convenience, you will get tired of it. As Marie Kondo would say: does it sparks joy? If the answer is yes you can then consider to buy it more seriously. Life is too short to surround yourself with stuff that doesn’t bring you joy.
Read more on Marie Kondo’s method staying organized and 5 rules to keep your home tidy
3. Are you buying this because the price is low or because it’s a bargain?
This is typical deviance of our time. People buy stuff on sale or at a low price not because they need it but because it’s a bargain or a good deal. Like that marketing trick “2 for the price of 1”, What’s up with that? I can understand it when it’s for items such as food or products you buy on a regular basis. But why would I ever need 2 blenders? Those are marketing techniques to make you buy something you don’t even need. So think about it here, are you willing to buy that only because it’s a good deal?
4. Are you buying this out of trend?
I’m not going to pretend that I’m above trends because I’m not and nobody is (except Miranda from the Devil wears Prada ;). Trends are very mysterious to me, I have trouble grasping how they start and how they are created. Nevertheless, they exist and have been around for ages. I don’t think they are evil, on the contrary, I like to see how everyone interprets it, creatively speaking. But I do think they can get dangerous if you apply them carelessly. The thing is, with trends, they usually go away pretty fast. It’s their purpose, that’s why they are trends because, at some point, they pass. Obviously, the perverse effect of that is for us to want to change our surroundings even more often. The action of buying something should never, ever, be because it’s trendy. It should always be because you enjoy it and it matches your personality, even better if it’s on trend.
5. Will it fit your interior style?
We all know someone that has a home that looks like a 5 years old outfit. Incoherent and Flashy. It’s a good thing to know who you are and what you like but it’s another to not go all over the place. Some item you love just won’t go with the rest of the room. Have you ever been to a pizzeria where they sell also burger and sushi and tacos? Would you ever have tacos there? The acceptable answer to that is no way. The reason for that is you can’t relate to what they are doing. Same apply for your home decor. Try to be coherent so don’t buy it if it’s in total disruption with your actual interior style. It seems to be common sense but it’s in fact very easy to get influenced by all the things we see day after day.
6. For how long have you been thinking about buying this?
This one is my less favorite question because I work on impulsion a lot. But actually, it’s a good thing to ask yourself to be sure you really need it. Usually, when you need something, you buy it right away. And that’s okay for a lot of things. Being thirsty and buying yourself a bottle of water seems reasonable enough to me. But is it okay for things that are bigger, that you are going to keep for many years? Deciding on whether or not you should buy that couch you are going to use for the decade to come should not be taken on a whim. I’m not telling you that every purchase should take you ages and that you would have to make an excel sheet to be sure to take the right decision. But let it rest for some days or weeks and see if you are still on board with it after that.
Going minimalist implies smart shopping
Ultimately it all comes down to the degree of need you have, to buy something. If the degree is high, then you should consider the previous questions, to make sure you won’t buy something you will get tired of fast. In the case of a low degree, I’d say it’s preferable to wait and see if it grows on you. If it does, then ask yourself those questions to find out if it’s going to add value into your life. I called this idea smart shopping because like a lot of people, I love to shop but I need to do it a little bit more responsibly. I aim to buy only things that I like and that I need and discard the rest. I’m not anti-consumerism, I only want to do it in a smarter and more mindful way.
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Cover picture by Marisa Vitale