The difference between minimalism and decluttering

There is a huge difference between minimalism and decluttering. They are two completely different and unique things. The first lesson you need to learn about minimalism is that it is an intentional practice of living. You can put any spin on it that you want, but it is about living intentionally, making decisions that sit completely within your values and goals system and continuing to be conscious of those decisions.

It isn’t, throwing out half of your stuff once a year, and then buying stuff to replace it. It isn’t buying storage containers and neatly packing things into them. It isn’t moving stuff from one room to another, and it isn’t buying things from thrift shops. That is decluttering and sustainable shopping. It’s good, but it’s not minimalism.

But minimalism also means vastly different things to different people. If you do a Google search of minimalism, you might find white walls, Scandinavian or very modern furniture. That’s how we imagine and explain minimalism through imagery but it isn’t the only way to do minimalism.


Actually minimalism can include lots of stuff on benches, lots of colour and/or working full time for a commercial business. You don’t have to wear white, write for a living and have one plate. It’s up to you, it’s your interpretation of how to live simply. But generally, just stop buying stuff. Or as my friend Mark says “stop buying shit”.

I really like the idea of calling it voluntary simplicity. My husband and I have been talking about our recent move to Geelong and our future plans as ‘simplifying’ our life. By renting out our home and moving into a rental we have simplified the amount of maintenance we have to do. We have many more steps in our plan but ultimately we want a life in which we can work less hours, while maintaining the quality of life we desire. The life we desire is simpler than most so we don’t need a huge income, just enough.

As minimalism gains traction it can take on a faddish appearance. The same as just eating real food (paleo/low carb high fat etc) has taken on faddish proportions, it’s not that complicated. Simplifying your life, home and diet are just steps taken to live intentionally and to increase your chance of happiness.


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