It’s free! This pen, that bag, this magnet, that t-shirt, this lipstick sample, that complementary key chain…
(There are often free items available at work. Right now I have 5 bars of soap in my closet. FIVE BARS. How long will it take me to go through them? I only use one at a time, and I feel silly hoarding soap as though it’s going out of season. I could donate my soap, give it as gifts, give it to friends… rather than let it take up space in my closet.)
Some of us turn to minimalism to get a grip on our finances. Minimalism encourages us to buy less, which means spend less. But when something is free, it’s easy to think it doesn’t count. After all, it’s not taking money directly out of my bank account. It’s free!
But although a free item doesn’t have a dollar cost, it certainly has others: spatial cost (where will you put it?), time cost (how long until it’s used up or broken?), mental cost (will it be just another thing you have to take care of?), not to mention labor and production and natural resources costs.
Minimalism is the idea that less is plenty – that we don’t need new, trendy clothes when we have good, old ones we love; that tons of room in our homes leads to piles of clutter and unnecessary space-fillers; that less stuff means less money, time, and mental energy spent buying, maintaining and storing it all. Sometimes you come across a genuinely useful free item – great. But many times, free items are redundant! Just saying no to free stuff keeps the unnecessary out of our homes and opens the door for someone else to get that free thing, someone who may have more use for it.
Living minimal is living lightly, not only in humor and attitude but in consumption and use of resources. How often do we use the items we get? How long until they end up in a landfill? How can we pare down what we consume to tread more lightly during out time on Earth? Free stuff is seductive in the moment but quickly becomes clutter and waste when you get home. Save yourself the nonsense, and Just Say No to free stuff!