How much stuff do I have?
My first thought raising from the word "minimalism" is a room with a mattress and not much else.
If I think of the necessities, how much does one person need? A set of clothes that fills a washer and one outfit on top of that, two sets of bed linen, one for use when the other needs to be washed, two big towels and some smaller ones. Dishes, one of each, all of them to be washed right away after use. But what if someone visits? And you might need a couple of pots to make a whole meal. And what if you don't get the chance to do your laundry just when you should when everything is dirty? ...there are so many what ifs that make you store up.
I, for instance, have quite a lot of books. I argue this with the fact that some books you just better own. They are so special, that you might need to get back to them anytime. Then it is better to be able to find it in your on shelf. So all these shelves full, holding my 200 books, include only such treasures, then? Nah. Some of them I got as gifts, and don't "dare" to give them up, even though the one who gave me the book (grandma) has actually passed away, or would never know (a friend I really don't see these days). Some books I think I abandoned after the one reading, but since they are alright, I haven't tossed them. Some I just forgot there in the shelf.
I don't live alone. I live with a guy, my live-in boyfriend. He only has a couple of books, but when he moved in, he brought some storing items and cabinets, already full of stuff, all well organized... and he hasn't touched most of it during the time we've lived together. Which is over a year now.
And he calls me a hoarder. He surely is of course just teasing me, since and actual hoarder does not care what it is they keep, as we can see in the the TV show "Hoarders"... the book Garbology, I mentioned earlier, also pictures the hoarder homes quite shockingly. Still my boyfriend's words sometimes hit me, I actually start defending myself. I for instance try to claim that everything I have I need ;)
A while ago I heard a radio show in the Yle Puhe channel here in Finland, (Maria Pettersson: Ihmishamsterit) that claimed an average Finn's 2-room-apartment has 10 000 things in it. That is quite an amount! Now that I counted my book, and I some time counted some of my clothes... I would say we don't have even close to that. I'd say it maybe is over a thousand, maybe two or three thousand... and what counts? A pin? A paper clip?
Oh well it does not make sense now to count pins or paper clips - or counting any of your stuff. What does make sense is seeing if you really use your things for anything, if you do at all. Different hobbies pile things up in your home: I do handicrafts, sewing, especially tuning clothes - thus the pins. Craft makers know the syndrome of having so many materials, having so much fabric and threads, with me also the pieces of clothing I'm going to "do something with". I might even have it all planned out already, but the vintage dress is in my closet, folded nicely, waiting for another year still... like that fabric I dyed at school seven years ago. It was supposed to become a coat, I actually also bought a fabric for lining it - three years ago. The thing is though that back then my style was quite more dandy than it is now, so if I ever got that coat made, I don't know if it was "me". (Well that fabric I'm talking about is indeed so super cool, I'd make it mine.)
But enough with the excuses, how much stuff do I (after all) have, now? Too much, indeed. I have too much stuff. I especially have too many clothes. Every time I take out some of them to donate, I get on this "careless" gear and toss also some things I feel a little sting for. The last time I threw out four full regular plastic bags!
And still I never miss them. I never have any trouble finding things to wear.
A couple of year ago there were talks about this Dave Bruno challenge of owning only one hundred things. I find this quite a respectable objective seen from this jungle of 2000... but coming back to the paper clips, I wouldn't throw them out just to buy a new package when I need them again. There are these little things you just might need. Sure, it's still not about paper clips...
It's about the question what is enough. Could we do with less? Could it be that having less would actually work better? Like with my wardrobe, I actually do have a problem with organizing it. Having way too many things to wear ends up with not being able to find that one thing you're looking for, and having too many things around might make you feel that there actually isn't anything to wear, when the things you see don't go together to easily make a decent outfit. Now then if you would just have a couple of things that "work", also together, and very well organized, putting together an outfit is so easy every day. (People who don't care about clothes wouldn't have this problem. I now happen to care especially some special cases and vintage things.)
So it's not about the stuff, it's about how you feel with it. In his book the writer of the 4-hour work week , Tim Ferriss gives some good advice on getting rid of things. In the end he states that it's not a physical space, but mental space, that opens up.