While I lived in DC, I read a couple of books and websites related to living as a minimalist, such as The Simple Dollar and Miss Minimalist. I in no way became a real minimalist, but I do like the concept: with less stuff, we free up time and resources, save money, we help the environment through reducing and reusing, and simply make our lives easier. Compared to many people in the US, I had a small one bedroom apartment, but of course, compared to the vast majority of people in the world I was living in luxury. While I was pretty good at pairing down on most of my belongings, I found it harder to get rid of and cut down on clothes. However, moving to Argentina seems to have solved a lot of that! There are three main reasons for why I buy so much less here, and why I am still using basically everything I brought here.
- Living in the campo: This means two things; the first being that I am just far away from places where I would normally shop. Cañuelas is ten kilometers away and as far as clothing goes, I have bought one t-shirt and one dress there, over the course of a year. I have hardly bought any other items for myself there either, other than a fan. Buenos Aires is a good 65 kilometers away, and I often go by bus, which limits what I can bring back. Secondly, living in the countryside definitely lowers any kind of fashion standards. I get dirty all the time, whether it is from the animals or from cleaning the storage room or from carrying a dirty box, so I wear lots of jeans. Everyone else is quite casual too, so it just seems normal to dress down. I do miss all those dresses I wore at the IDB! I have some of them here, and bring them out for special occasions.
- No. Time. At. All. I have wanted to buy new jeans for about three months now, but I never seem to find the time! When I have a little time off, I prioritize other things, such as seeing friends, sleeping, or getting pedicures.
- Unfortunately, “Made in Argentina” is no badge of honor; things are often poorly made, bad quality, and not cheap. And foreign chains like Zara are really quite expensive. So that takes away a lot of the incentive to shop clothes. I did get stuff when I was in Europe in August, because you can get cheap and totally fine quality stuff easily there. (Relatively speaking, clothes are very cheap in Norway.) Of course there is a whole other story here, about how cheap clothes are produced in horrible conditions in factories in Asia, Central America, etc. but I won’t get into that right now.
- Edited to add: Living in a very cash based economy. I use cash for basically everything I buy here, so that means if I don’t have cash, I don’t buy it. Using foreign credit cards is a horrible deal, since it means using the official exchange rate. So I see no need to use my savings to be able to use credit cards.
So, an unintended consequence of working all the time and living in the boonies – less consumption, less waste, more reuse!