Minimalism, Renting, and Me

I've noticed something. Minimalism isn't always good. It has it's dark side. Some of you may have been thinking that with every post I've done about our family's minimalistic approaches. Let me explain where this thought process is stemming.

In the Sept. 24 issue of Time Magazine there is a fascinating article entitled "Rental Nation". It addresses the rising "sharing" economy where people find it easier and sometimes cheaper to rent items rather than own them. There are significant economic repercussions from this trend. At first blush it seems rather efficient and green. I mean, if you don't need to own a car but can rent one when necessary, it keeps money in your wallet and cuts down on pollution and energy consumption. It also means that less cars need to be made because the demand to purchase is less therefore, negatively impacting our struggling economy. Furthermore, the trend seems to be continuing the idea that you can have it all or at least in appearance.

Women rent a dress for an event much like men have rented tuxes. Parents rent toys for their kids then send them back when a new developmental or interest stage sets in. You can rent art, jewelry,  furniture, appliances. In fact, the mentality seems to be that with many things a) not made well and b) technological advancements moving faster than warranty coverage, you're better off renting so you aren't stuck with outdated or dilapidated product.

As I read the article, I went back and forth between liking what it said and cringing. I loved how people are sharing resources. Awesome! I loved how the author wrote, "Younger consumers are also more educated, better traveled and more physically active, which heightens the appeal of spending precious dollars on new experiences rather than ownership of things..." [emphasis mine]. Sadness set in when the author stated this mentality of renting vs. owning feeds (and extends) a phobia of commitment already rampant in our society. It also means that our interest becomes deeper seeded in quantity not quality. Not to mention that at it's height we're allowing ourselves to become more shallow because so much of this is simply about appearance not substance.

Readers, I want you to know that our family's approach to minimalism is coming from a drastically different perspective. We want less so that we can have more substance and freedom. We want to physically own less so that we have less to maintain and can give more financially and physically (time) to charity and people around us. Our journey is influenced by society/culture, but it's foundation is in scripture. We are trying to figure out what this all means for our family, in our small part of the world.

For me this issue, resounds with my father's advice: Everything in moderation--except God. Renting can be a good and useful and wise thing. Owning can be healthy and responsible and worthwhile. It's the application of discernment that really matters. Something I feel we are greatly lacking in our culture.

P.S. If you want an interesting look at how buying habits have changed, check out this article from NPR.

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