Film Review: “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”

Last updated on April 29, 2023.

Minimalist space, dining room with living space and windows overlooking water in background.
Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay.

How might your life be better with less? That’s the question Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus pose in this documentary. I recently rewatched it after my family went through many changes in our home: eliminating many toxic products; eliminating plastics; reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; reducing household waste; etc. We got rid of so much stuff and had a big yard sale. We’ve been constantly reducing our material possessions, little by little, because it’s a process. I found the film inspiring!

But What is Minimalism?

I know it sounds like a trendy word, but it’s about living intentionally. It can mean different things to different people. It does not mean giving up all of your possessions, your house, your car, your boat. etc. It means becoming more aware and refocusing your life on what’s most important to you.

Here’s how The Minimalists define minimalism:

“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”1

It’s about more than our material possessions. It’s about the over-consumptive, planned obsolescent, mass-marketed culture that we live in, and how discontent we are in our society. A “documentary about the important things” really means just that. It’s not the stuff in our lives that’s important. Check out the trailer:

Define Success and Happiness For Yourself

We live in a society that teaches us that success is defined by income and material possessions. Earn more, buy more, buy bigger. What if we all started defining success in different ways? Success and happiness can be found in many ways other than by job title, income, and house size. Let’s decide for ourselves, instead of letting society do it for us.

Maybe you want to spend more time with your children. Maybe that means you quit working 60 hours a week for a smaller salary. Perhaps you’re tired of working all the time to pay the big mortgage payment on the big house. That could mean moving into a smaller home, with a smaller mortgage, with fewer belongings; the trade-off might be having more cash for travel, spending less time cleaning the home, and less stress because your finances are less stretched. It could be any number of scenarios.

How might your life be better with less?

The word "Imagine" in the center of a mosaic tile floor, black and white.
Photo by Jeremy Beck on Unsplash.

The Environmental Impact of Minimalism

Consumerism is ruining the environment through the production and waste of so much stuff. The less we consume, the less we waste, and the less pollution. Consider just these facts, just about plastic consumption:

Globally, we produce 400 million tons of plastic waste a year. About 98% of single-use plastic products are made from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, which are also used to make petroleum products, take millions of years to form and release carbon, which is causing our planet to warm.2

Approximately 36% of all plastic produced is used to create packaging, 85% of which ends up in landfills almost as soon as we’ve opened the product.3 Read my Packaging Industry series to learn more.

Consumerism causes 60% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which are increasing global warming. Watch the film, The Story of Stuff (linked below) to learn more. Read my article about Black Friday and how we can do things differently.

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life book cover

Minimalism Teaches Us to Live Intentionally

I highly recommend watching this film and learning how you can make your life better through a minimalist mindset. Also check out my review of their book, Everything That Remains. We all have the power to make our lives better. And we all have the power to make great changes to the environment. I’m going to strive for less stress, less waste, and more happiness. What will you do? What improvements in your own life can you make?

Feel free to leave me a comment below. As always, thanks for reading, and please share and subscribe!

 

Additional Resources:

Website, The Minimalists.

Film, The Story of Stuff, 2007.

TEDx Talk, “The Art of Letting Go, The Minimalists, July 2016.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Article, “Minimalism: An Elevator Pitch,” by The Minimalists, accessed April 29, 2023.
  2. Article, Top 25 recycling facts and statistics for 2022,” World Economic Forum, June 22, 2022.
  3. Article, Top 25 recycling facts and statistics for 2022,” World Economic Forum, June 22, 2022.

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