Turks turn to minimalism amid coronavirus lockdown
More and more people in Turkey are leaning into minimalism and consuming less as the world takes a giant pause due to the novel coronavirus, according to one local minimalist.
Hale Acun Aydın, the founder of the Türk İşi Minimalizm (Turkish Way Minimalism) website and related social media sites, said interest in minimalism had already risen in the last couple of years before recently skyrocketing as residents face a long lockdown at home.
“It doesn’t matter how many shoes we have now, we only use one pair of shoes to go to the supermarket,” Aydın told Anadolu Agency.
Populations across the world, as well as in Turkey, are subjected to home quarantines to stem the virus’ spread, but most people are now more conscious of minimalism, said Aydın.
“During our times at home we have seen what items need to be repaired, or what are the things that are missing, or most importantly what items we have more of than we really need,” she said, trumpeting the motto: "Less is more."
“And during this period, there are so many people who learned that things we possess are not our purpose but they are rather tools,” she said.
That’s why interest in minimalism has climbed, with Aydın saying she hopes it “will turn into a lifestyle.”
Anxiety and worry
But Joshua Becker, founder of the U.S.-based website Becoming Minimalist, sees things differently.
“I thought I would see a big increase in interest, but to date, I have not seen that materialize – at least not here in the U.S.,” said Becker, the author of The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.
“There is still quite a bit of anxiety and worry for both physical and economic health – and that is taking precedence in peoples’ minds right now,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“In my opinion, once the initial unease wears off, once steps are being taken to get back to some form of normalcy, people will have the mental and emotional capacity to begin thinking more critically about the physical possessions and financial circumstance.”
Becker describes minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
Aydın divides it into two categories: one for things we have, and one for body_abstract things.
“It is possible to live with a few things self-sufficiently,” she said.
As for the body_abstract side of minimalism, she said this means “following our own inner voice and opposing impositions on going to the best school or doing the most popular job just because others want it.”
Paring things down
Aydın’s suggestion for those who are planning to go minimalist is to begin with the basics.
“When we look at our houses we see a lot of stuff, but those are things that piled up over the years, they don’t just end up in our house in a day,” she said. “So it’s not possible to get rid of them in just a night.”
Becker’s suggestion is “to get clear, first and foremost, on what benefits of minimalism you’re most interested in.”
“Are you hoping to save money, save time, focus your energy, work less, preserve the environment, become a better example for your kids?” he asked.
Or “are you hoping to clean less, travel more, downsize, or even own higher-quality items?”
He explained: “The end goal of minimalism isn’t just to own less stuff. The end goal of minimalism is to live a better, more intentional life focused on things that actually matter. So start there.”
Becker recommended that people “begin removing the possessions from their home that they no longer need. Start in easy rooms, removing easier stuff, and work your way to harder spaces and possessions you have a harder time parting with.”
Echoing Becker’s suggestions, Aydın said being a minimalist brought her a greater awareness of nature and climate.
“I begin thinking about consumption and its negative effects on nature when I became minimalist,” around 10 years ago, she said.
She went as far as to launch a campaign to reduce the use of paper cups at cafes.
In the year since her crusade began with the hashtag #kahvemtermosta, or my coffee in a thermos, more than 200 coffee shops in Turkey started giving costumers discounts when they scrap paper cups and use their own thermoses instead.