Patrick Müller writing nonsense since 2022

Ups and downs of minimalism

video on YouTube

Aesthetic minimalism: might be „good“, or it might not. Inherently it is neither.

This is one of those pieces where I want to agree and disagree at the same time. Let’s dissect the topic a bit: I think we have three subtopics here:

Minimalist aesthetics:

  • A certain look preferred by a number of people and described in the video es being often limited to an affluent population for a number of reasons.
  • Probably neutral from an environmental standpoint: there seems to be no reason an item has a different impact based on aesthetics.

Buying „better things“:

  • This has an economic dimension since often the „better things“ are expensive.
  • This still may be environmentally neutral, a high-quality thing may well have the same impact on the environment as something cheaply made.

Buying less:

  • Here is where the difference for the environment will be. The thing that is not produced in the first place will stack up quite well after all.

These points are, as the video correctly points out, often mixed together and maybe in an unhealthy way. A first step towards untangling this might be to distinguish between minimalism (a lifestyle where people try to have less things) and aesthetic minimalism (the idea of liking a very clean kind of product design, something I do like myself). The latter is not inherently bad (something I felt the video suggested, though I may be wrong) but rather becomes bad when you still buy as much as before only with a different design in mind.

The idea of less but better

It is indeed a regrettable problem that very often what is perceived as really good is not available to many people due to its price. I wont however condemn expensive things as I may be guilty of liking some of them es well. I am however perfectly willing to condemn excessive consumption of such things. In the end the problem may not be the existence of good but expensive items, its whether we also have good but affordable things.

I do feel that we have some of them, but by far not enough. Also we have social trends that urge people to buy into very problematic things that aren‘t even cheap in the first place like any sort of „fast fashion“.

Choosing things

When we chose something there are also multiple factors to it:

  • The practical factor, that is „does it do what I want?“
  • The ecological factor, so „how good or bad is it for the environment?“
  • The economic factor, i.e. „can I afford this?“

Some of these can be modified by how we use the product. Think about it: the problem with buying that new iPhone may not be the new iPhone as such, it may well be buying every new iPhone that comes out instead of using the device as long as practical.

What needs to change or how „less but better“ can be an answer after all

There are a few things we need to keep in mind if we want „less but better“ to be an answer to the questions and challenges of our time. We need better things to be available to more people for once. Also there might be a middle ground, a room in the marketplace for things between the super high-quality yet ever so expensive things and the cheaply made things. A middle ground that is accessible to many people.

While those are things that need to happen on a larger scale, there are also things every one of us can do.

  • Think about if you really need to (or really want to, I am no minimalist after all) buy something.
  • If you are buying anything and you have the choice, consider things like longevity in your choice.