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  • Amy Michele

Other People and Their "Stuff"


As the old saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." For minimalists, this adage can be quite frustrating. There are two common questions that I get with regard to minimalism. The first is "How do I get my spouse/parent/child/roommate to be a minimalist?". And the second, "What do I do with other peoples' stuff?". Both are great questions and potentially dangerous for personal relationships. Does someone in your life have a collection like the one below that you would love to see spontaneously combust? Then you may find the answers to these questions helpful too.


How do I convince my family/friends that they should embrace minimalism? The short answer is that you cannot coerce, guilt, or force anyone to become a minimalist. Think back to your first introduction to minimalism. Would a friend or family member giving you the "hard sell" have made minimalism more attractive? For most of us I doubt that would have been effective. The best way to encourage the people in our lives to consider minimalism for themselves is to model all the benefits that you personally get by living with less. Children will model your good habits, your spouse may appreciate the money saved from less shopping, your roommate will see your happier, more peaceful approach to life, etc. To paraphrase Gandhi, "Be the change you would life to see." I assure you minimalism can be infectious. You just have to be patient and let it take its course organically. Keep in mind there is also the distinct possibility that the people in your life will never find minimalism to be there cup of tea, so find space to be accepting and respectful of their choice. This brings us to question two.

What do I do with other people's stuff? One of the great things about minimalism is that it is not one size fits all. You create your own path and style. However, most minimalists will agree that there is one "rule". DON"T DISCARD ANYTHING THAT IS NOT YOURS! Do not throw away someone else's things unless you have their specific permission to do so. I cannot stress this enough. If you break this rule, things will go south quickly. Prior to your move toward minimalism would someone throwing away your possessions have made you more interested? I doubt it.

Having said that, I will tell you there is one exception to the rule. If you are in the unfortunate situation of someone else using your home as their personal storage locker, you should take thoughtful action. In this case I would suggest the following steps. Reach out the the owner of the offending items and let them know this arrangement is no longer acceptable. You should of course be kind, since more than likely at some point you did allow this situation to occur. Set a realistic time frame for them to remove the items, taking into consideration the quantity and size of the "stuff" and any travel needed to address it. Let the owner know that if the items are not removed they will be sold/donated/or trashed as appropriate. Lastly make sure you follow through. Don't be held hostage and take back your home.

I would love to hear about your successes or lack there of in your approach to family and friends and minimalism. Reach out to me via email, Facebook or Instagram! Good Luck!

#minimalism #decluttering