Minimalists as sustainable consumers? The (non)consumption practices of UK minimalists
Dr Amber Martin-Woodhead: I have an overarching research focus on cultural economy approaches and the geographies of consumption. My ongoing research interests concern sustainable consumption and minimalism, ethical and sustainable fashion and fibres and gender and material embodiment. I am currently conducting an Royal Geographical Society funded research project on the rise of minimalism within the UK, and a turn towards reduced and sustainable (non)consumption practices, as a potential response to excessive consumerism in a time of ‘peak stuff’.
This study critically examines the (non)consumption of self-defined minimalists in the UK (via in depth-semi structured interviews) to consider if such practices have sustainable intentions and/or outcomes.
The findings reveal how minimalists actively make efforts to reduce their consumption over time through by increasing the longevity of their objects via: ‘using up’ what is already owned, carrying out maintenance and repair of objects and by only buying fewer, higher quality objects to ensure they are durable and long-lasting. In addition, when participants viewed consumption as necessary, they expressed the importance of only acquiring objects that were needed (as opposed to wanted) and demonstrated highly intentional, considered forms of consumption – plus, for some, ethically and environmentally concerned consumption. The study therefore explores imperative, sustainable consumption solutions in a time of ‘peak stuff’, excessive consumption and waste.