The Minsumer Movement: A Quiet Revolution

Something wonderful happens when you start living a minimalist lifestyle: you begin to really think about what you consume, and question the necessity of every purchase.

How amazing would it be if such mindful consumption became the norm? Not only would we all have more time, more money, and more space in our homes; we’d also have a healthier planet, and more resources for future generations.

In order to promote such an idea, however, we have to define it and give it a name. We have to let others know it’s a viable lifestyle alternative, and provide support to those pursuing it.

To this end, I’ve written the following manifesto to introduce the Minsumer Movement.

“Don’t buy it!” may be an unusual call to arms, but it has the potential to transform our lives, our society and our planet.

Like all revolutions, ours is bred by discontent. We’re sick of being slaves to debt and keeping up with the Joneses. We’re tired of working long hours at jobs we don’t like, to pay for things we don’t need. We’re unhappy with the clutter in our homes, and the commercialization of our holidays. We’re angry that human rights are violated to fill our stores with cheap clothes and plastic gizmos. We’re worried that our children and grandchildren won’t have the clean air and water that should be their birthright.

We are not necessarily anti-consumption. We don’t forage or dumpster dive, and we don’t expect to get anything for free. We like the fact that we can buy things when we need them. We appreciate the ease with which we can obtain basic necessities; unlike our ancestors, we need not devote our days to securing food, clothing, or shelter. However, we believe that once these needs are met, consumption can be put on the backburner. Our time would then be free for friends, family, and community; and for spiritual, philosophical and cultural pursuits. Imagine what we could do with all that newfound time, energy, and capital!

The consumption instinct is rooted in survival, though, and difficult to curb. Savvy marketers exploit this fact and continually manufacture new “needs” to suppress our sense of fulfillment. They try to convince us that our lives are incomplete without the latest electronic gadget; that our houses are outdated and must be “improved;” that our cars should be new, and our clothing should be fashionable.

Well, we declare “Enough!” We refuse to spend the better part of our lives desiring, acquiring and paying for things. We are neither Consumers, nor Anti-Consumers, but Minsumers: we seek to minimize the role of consumption in our lives. Our strategy is simple:

  • To minimize our consumption to what meets our needs
  • To minimize the impact of our consumption on the environment
  • To minimize the effect of our consumption on other people’s lives

To this end, we won’t waste our money, or the resources of our planet, on frivolous goods. We’ll reuse and repurpose what we can, and favor used goods over new. We’ll avoid items made with exploited labor or violations of human rights. We’ll support our local economies, and work to create sustainable communities.

We are not your typical revolutionaries. You won’t see us protesting, boycotting, or blocking the doors to megastores; we’re simply not buying. Our battles are personal, made up of a million little acts of consumer disobedience. We leave convenience foods on the shelf and breeze by impulse items without a glance. We cut up our credit cards, borrow books from the library, and mend our clothes instead of buying new ones. We shop on Craigslist and Freecycle, rather than at the mall.

We are an invisible army, and our offense is our absence: the empty spaces in the parking lot, the shorter checkout lines, the silence at the cash registers. The only bloodshed in our revolution is the red ink on a retailer’s profit statement.

We are under constant bombardment by advertisers, but our defenses are well-honed. We regard with a critical eye their attempts to make us feel unattractive, unsafe, and unsatisfied. We turn off the television, cancel our magazine subscriptions, and use ad-blocker in our web browsers. They develop new weapons to weaken our resistance — greenwashing, viral marketing, zero percent financing — but their arsenal is no match for our resolve.

Our ranks are diverse, and spread out among spiritual, environmental, simple living, and human rights groups, as well as the population at large. But under the banner of Minsumerism, our individual efforts have far-reaching potential. By not buying, we regain our freedom: from debt, from clutter, and from the rat race. By not buying, we have the time and energy to rebuild our communities. By not buying, we reclaim the resources of our planet, and deliver them from the hands of corporations into those of our children.

Most importantly, by not buying, we redefine ourselves: by what we do, what we think, and who we love, rather than what we have. And in the process, we rediscover the meaning in our lives.

Please show your support for the Minsumer Movement by leaving a comment, and spreading the word through Digg, Twitter, or email.

How do you minimize the role of consumption in your life? I’d love to hear your ideas and techniques!

124 comments to The Minsumer Movement: A Quiet Revolution

  • I love this, and the name you’ve coined for it. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to be more mindful about minimalism. It seems I’ve found it so easy to let go of things because in the back of my mind I know I could very easily replace them. Being mindful about consumer behavior in the first place will really make a difference. I want to be a minsumer, too!

  • Darla

    Oh dear, I want to try this-and by the way, think the article itself is very well written, it matches what I have been thinking of and constantly write as I streamline by making lists and following my list, check,check,check-but THIS time, although at work and in the homes of others I am highly known for my sreamlining and organizing skills- I am not going off my own list, in truth I am bored with having to do the thinking myself and the act of writing it down. I already followed your ‘bathroom minamalist’ now, I am going to just copy/paste and follow your words and relax in not doing it myself! I will give away what is in my way, and think when purchasing-each and everytime. That’s just it, I will buy as I need, not what I may need, for later. The rest of the article points I will re-examine as they pertain to me and go from there. Thank you agin! You are truly helping my focus, I appreciate it.

  • […] I’m throwing this one out here to get your opinions, as it certainly has minsumer appeal — after all, the fashion industry creates a tremendous amount of waste and is often […]

  • P. Isom

    I’ve died and gone to heaven. Reading your blog is like deprogramming myself from a lifetime of “normal” consumerism. I grew up in the 70’s with parents who had grown up in a prosperous era and they were all about success as defined by their era: building a new home, having numerous and new cars, a boat, etc. My dad even bought and then learned to fly a small airplane. Buying things meant showing the world they were successful and prosperous, and spending money meant enjoyment. I am learning how to live my life slowly and luxuriously and meaningfully by not spending time shopping, worrying about my wardrobe or buying the next thing that might make me happy. My neighbor asked me to be a part of a three-family yard sale in late April. I said “OK,” and then went looking for the stuff to sell. I could only come up with a paltry amount of items, other than books. The books I am donating to the YMCA and I guess I won’t be spending a lot of hours organizing and pricing a lot of stuff or an entire day trying to sell it at a yard sale for a quarter an item!

  • Sue

    EXCELLENT article! It perfectly sums up the way I feel and recreates enthusiasm for what I have been doing for several years out of necessity (maxed out credit cards). I have paid WAY TOO MUCH interest on things I no longer own or use. I will no longer allow the marketers to WIN and grow fat off of my hard-earned dollars. It’s an ongoing process and I am happier the longer I participate. I need to read your manifesto over and over, perhaps even daily.

  • tina

    Just this morning , my sister who lives in the midwest where I was raised told me “i had gotten weird since moving to Chatham” I guess my views have changed. My husband & I quit our job, sold our big home & downsized into a tiny house that is paid for. We get out in nature or go to the beach for entertainment. We cook our now mostly vegan meals at home. We borrow books instead of buying them. We compost & will be planting a garden this summer. I know its a different lifestyle than most people live, but we have never been happier. I am very grateful for bloggers like Francine who writes so beautifully & reinforces that there is a growing movement of like minded people who want to live the same way. Thanks Francine for all that you do to spread the word.

  • […] I would share this inspiring post from Miss […]

  • Thank you for reaffirming what I believe. It’s easy to get distracted sometimes. Only yesterday I was thinking ‘Oh I need to go into town this weekend and buy some new clothes for summer.’ Now I remember I can get buy with what I wore last year, and I won’t have to go through all the stress of shopping (I can sit in the sunny garden and read instead. Yay!) I have posted a link to this on my own blog. Thanks again.

  • nycgrlupstate

    Beautifully said and I couldn’t agree more.

  • Thank you very much for this. The truth is I have done a bit of dumpster-diving and I am wanting to go to a back to basics lifestyle … but I love your new term, Minsumer Movement. Thank you for such a well-written, thoughtful, and thoughtful post! I will definitely share via twitter and facebook. Thank you so much!!!

  • […] big house and the big mortgage and the big car, as is the standard in our consumer society. I can be a minsumer, and live in a small flat, with only a few select possessions, and I can ride public transport. […]

  • […] Then there’s my favorite: the Zero Waste trend. It’s partly an industry push to redesign products to eliminate wasteful packaging like plastic clamshells, and partly an individual quest to keep garbage at bay by buying in bulk, reusing containers, and otherwise avoiding packaging. The Zero Waste mantra? “Refuse, refuse, refuse” and “Don’t buy it!”  These folks are upgrading the old three Rs into five—Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot (compost) and then Recycle—and launching a great new word: minsumerism. […]

  • Christopher

    Like other comments I not only fully agree with you, and have been thinking long and hard on this, I think you’ve stated the issues and your manifesto quite well. I would like to add, however, that in addition to minsumerism as part of consumer disobedience it would be a good idea for individual consumers to clearly express their dissatisfaction with the companies on which we depend (which have unfairly lobbied for this dependence) by not playing by the rules. For example, it is not acceptable for the customer service department of your local telephone or cable monopoly to define how you use your bandwidth (see Electronic Frontier Foundation). So, use free anonymous browsing services – or if you are tech savvy – setup your own anonymous proxies and tell your friends about it. Another example, when confronted with ANY company that records your call for customer service improvements, let them know that YOU are recording the call as well, for consumer protection purposes.

    The point is that it is important to be disobedient in many ways in order to demonstrate that the various “corporate policies” out there may not correspond to the needs of or be acceptable to the customers of these businesses.

  • […] love this post by missminimalist ~ The minsumer movement-A quiet revolution. I think it is so well written and discribes how I feel about turning my back on rampant […]

  • within the last minutes my wife declared she wants to buy a new autumn jacket. Well, we discussed a while. And it is always the same way: she wonders me to splurge her that purchase. But she already owns several appropriate jackets…

    Well, that’s just a little illustration of the problem.
    I’m a strong follower of your/the minimalist movement. Although the old Adam sometimes gains control over my decisions (when I’m making an akquisition … or even lots of them :-( )

    On the other hand: I wonder about the consequences of a large spread of our idea.
    In fact I believe only a real reorientation on every level (political, international and economic) would bring a lasting improvement. I don’t want to express WE shouldn’t begin, – we should and we do.

    But if everyone would, we might have a problem, as nearly everything is based on consumption. Our whole way to live and to economies. No one knows the answers, there are some ideas, OK. But as it is definitely true that we will destroy the whole planet and all the future, it is undeniable necessary to change a lot. Beginning with our PERSONAL HABITS! So you are absolutely on the right way!

    Just to mention one thing: I believe a bedstead might be better: Depending on the climate of your region (and the season) there might be moisture (from your body and just from the air) under your mattress, more or less. Within some time you’ll find mold there, not just very healthy. I’d this experience, you must not, of course. At least a bed base (some inches distance from the floor) might be good.

    Thank you for your website and sharing your ideas (and life decisions) with us.

  • Ami

    YES! It’s like you put all my thoughts into words. I’m almost done getting rid of most of my stuff, and I have no desire to fill my newfound space with more. It’s amazing how liberating it is, and also how few people understand. Lets be strong together! Maybe when people see how happy and free we are, the idea will spread.

    Thank you for your blog. In addition to validating my beliefs, it is also full of ideas that really work! :)

  • severine

    I love that new word. As i’m french, let me think about a translation !!! ;)

  • hanna

    Im so glad I have found minimalism at the young age of 17. This is how I will live for the rest of my life and how i will inspire others to live. I love how you put it! wish minsumerism could spread even faster :)

  • […] A explicação da Miss Minimalist sobre consumo mínimo: O instinto do consumo está enraizado na sobrevivência e é difícil de ser contido. Os […]

  • […] Essa proposta me lança no mundo do consumo mínimo, não do minimalismo. Ainda tenho coisas demais pra poder me considerar minimalista e, embora […]

  • Kelly Corns

    this article is so inspiring! i’ve been researching minimalism for a few weeks now and i really want to try it and adopt this lifestyle. it is so refreshing to hear that there are people who believe we don’t need “things” to make us happy and i will definitely be trying this. thank you for posting this!

  • Leann

    Amen!! THINGS are just that….THINGS. You can’t eat them, they can’t save your life,they certainly don’t make us better people because we own them, and as the old saying goes,’you can’t take them with you!’ Particularly in the past 6 months, I have felt absolutely COMPELLED to simplify my life, learn skills that can make me self sustainable, and not rely on the outside world for my needs. I learned to make an oven in the back yard with rocks and clay, I am planning a garden ( collecting seeds now), planning to sell or give away what “extras” I have. My ultimate goal is to be as self sufficient as the Amish people who had it right all along! My friends think I’m half nuts that I don’t want (or need) a new car, better furniture, cable TV, extravagant clothing or food. IF GOD WOULD DECIDE TO HIT THE “RESET BUTTON” ON THE EARTH………HOW MANY OF US WOULD KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR OURSELVES WITHOUT ELECTRICITY, CELL PHONES, GASOLINE, GROCERY STORES??????? I have committed to being an ultra minimalist, and am loving the knowledge I am gaining and the journey I am on. God bless you all!

  • […] survival, but necessities seems to be the best word to say “what I need to live a comfortable but minsumer […]

  • […] getting there may be a process involving the need to first work out of bondage to debt, while learning to reject blind consumption.  No one said we were perfect, we earn our Liberation Artist cards. […]

  • Marina Morais

    I really like the concept of Minsumerism! I’m using the app Lift and I created a habit named “Minsumerism” because it’s something that I want to practice everyday. It’s the way I find to spread the word too :)

  • Patrick

    Miss Minimalist : )

    This is fantastic. Thank you for the article. I agree with all of it, although I go a step further as I have chosen to boycott a certain “Big Box” store for various reasons that align with my beliefs as a human being. This post is so well written and the message is a great one to share! Thank you

  • […] by rowdy kittens love her post “400 square feet is the new black“ and this one on how living with less is a revolution my podcast interview with rowdy kittens from last year becoming minimalist blog simplicity journey […]

  • Tina

    If living with less is a choice,then it’s the choice I’ve made over the years. There is no one I need to impress and I don’t work so I don’t have to please a boss. I can always find something to wear or something to eat here in the cabinets. No last minute shopping needed. I realized that I use my IPad a lot and my cel phone but our energy bills are low because we are in an apt.

  • Tarac429

    Right on …

    We are responsible for what we buy. Don’t blame the stores; we blame ourselves and our inaction is our greatest action.

    Thanks for putting out what so many of us mini consumers have been feeling.

  • Susan

    When someone asks what I want for a gift I tell them this. Coffee, a gift certificate to a restaurant or my favorite haircut place. I just don’t want any more stuff in m house.

  • […] more debt. This makes me want to forever eschew materialism and attempt instead to partake in minsumerism. Living in a culture of excess and consumerism makes this difficult. But I feel this is a worthy […]

  • Great post. Thank you for this great message. Your book has changed my life a year ago and is going strong. This should be the next bubble that don’t burst. This generation is in the trap of consumerism, unfortunately they don’t know about this trap.

  • Tina

    Travelling for a week with an overnight bag. Learning to get by with less and less. Not taking free samples. Using much less of everything. Trying to make my footprint as small as possible. Hoping to save the earth for my grandchildren.

  • Tina

    I talked to a friend yesterday who said she always checked luggage on a trip. I said I only had twice. I learned ages ago not to take more than I could carry especially on escalators. Now I never carry more than I can lift over my head in an airplane. I am not a celebrity after all.

  • Tina

    We went to a huge mall today because it was so hot outside. I looked at a bunch of things and decided I had a lot of really similar things already. I have 2 purses and one is brand new, I’ve never used it. I don’t need dressy shoes because I only wear them about 10 times a year. I have a shawl I seldom wear so I will wear it more often.

  • Tina

    The latest AARP magazine (on pg 22) says couples need $75,000 a year to live on in retirement. On another page, they advise you to have 10 to 12 years of your final income put away. I have always saved as much as I could but I think reading articles like that would depress young people. We’ve never lived on an income like that and we’ve been retired for years. I think being frugal and being a minimalist means financial freedom. Friends teased us about living in a small house and my in- laws mentioned other couples who appeared to be doing “much better” because we bought things used. Your readers who buy fewer toys and clothes and knickknacks have the right idea.

  • Tina

    I am wearing my sister-in-law’s old sweater over an advertising shirt my daughter gave me and my ratty old jeans. I am warm and comfortable. Earlier, I had on my nephew’s ripped flannel shirt over another free shirt and a pair of sweat pants from my daughter. Since I’m retired, I have no one to impress and my better clothes last longer this way.

  • […] vem de minsumer, termo que vi pela primeira vez no blog Miss Minimalist, e que vejo como uma alternativa ao “consumidora”. Espero daqui para frente refletir […]

  • Tina

    I like it when I see young people dressed very casually for work. There is no reason to have people dress in uncomfortable clothes to go earn a living. Life is hard enough without the game playing that is fashion.

  • Tina

    I recently read that the average American owes $16,000 on their credit cards. What are these people thinking? We owe nothing because we pay our cards off every month. It is easy to save money. Just make some simple choices. I brought my lunch to work for years and saved $100 every month. We never buy pop. Shop with a list. Kids don’t need many new clothes, they grow all the time. Read books on cheapskates.

  • iru

    I found this article looking for people who makes their own revolution by their daily actions. I have done some consumer reduction and wish I could live an even simpler life. I buy most of mine and my kid’s clothes in thrift stores as well as my china. But there is so much trash involved in food, everything comes in plastic bags, botles, glass, paper, cardboard. How do you deal with all that waste? Wish there was a bulk products store in every neighborhood.

  • I read in the business section of the paper the other day that a lot of stores were closing. I don’t buy on line either. I usually get things second hand or for free. I have a lot of plants and gave some away a few days ago. I have more to give away.

  • Tina

    I am teaching a class on succulent dish gardens. I have rocks from the beach, bowls from Goodwill and yard sales, and some pretty glass pebbles from Goodwill. I bought a few kinds of plants I did not have and some potting mix. My other plants live in potting soil mixed with my compost. I have been saving small pieces of non-recyclable plastic –bottle caps,etc.- which help with drainage. I have been buying 100 0/0 recycled or bamboo toilet paper.

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