I sat down with Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus - founders of The Minimalists podcast, to talk all things minimalism and the inception story of BuyMeOnce. As soon as they bounded through the door of the studio, I was enveloped by two huge bear hugs (which they are famous for). The guys are full of energy, humour and natural warmth which they bring to their podcast.
Their origin story mirrors mine in many ways, but rather than beginning with a spark of joy from a Le Creuset pot, theirs began with a feeling of discontent. They had acquired everything that you supposedly need to be happy: six-figure careers, luxury cars and oversized houses; stuff, lots of it, cluttering every corner of their lives.
That discontent lingered, and the harder they worked the more they realised they were just plugging a void of debt, stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, guilt, overwhelm and depression. Their central beliefs on minimalism start with ridding yourself of the excess stuff - but doesn’t end there. It’s about taking back control of your time and your life.
Since taking the plunge and quitting their corporate careers in 2011, they have prolifically built an audience through their website, podcasts, films and books. I believe there is a lot of overlap in our approaches to minimalism as a tool to be used in everyday life. Even though I’ve been on this journey for a number of years, I felt like I was able to absorb a number of tips and rules.
Our shared philosophy can be summarised as: “Don’t buy anything you don’t need. If you do need something, buy once and buy well.”
Our chat traversed buying new and used material possessions with intention, purchasing products that last a lifetime, and being responsible with time and money when shopping for necessities. Josh and Ryan also pull out some of the key concepts in my book A Life Less Throwaway on living mindfully.
It was also pleasing to be able to help answer people’s tricky fundamental questions about implementing minimalism in their lives. Even though I’ve been on this journey for a number of years - I felt like I was able to absorb a number of tips, tricks and little rules.
One of our callers - Elizabeth from Denmark, was only 17 years old and yet already committing to a minimalist lifestyle. She was finding it hard, and we gave her our best advice, however the mere fact that she was trying was so exciting and encouraging.
We know that our planet has limited resources and limited time to solve climate change. We also know that it’s young people especially who are under constant pressure to consume, and that it can be damaging to their mental health. It’s vital to make the message of minimalism accessible and inclusive. Only then will it reach the people that it needs to, the shapers of the future. And it’s only then that a real shift in behaviour will be possible.
It’s vitally important to make the distinction between necessary consumption and consumerism.
Just owning lots of material objects will not bring us the fulfilment we need. But owning a small number of prized possessions can bring joy.
BuyMeOnce does this by helping people buy things intentionally for the long term. The confirmation of the importance of the work we do here at BuyMeOnce had me heading home with renewed enthusiasm and determination.Watch the podcast with The Minimalists here and learn more about them here.