One of my students competed in the lions youth of the year comp and she did a talk about minimalism!! This is her speech below, I am so blown away by this young woman and how amazing she is. She is so inspirational and we regularly discuss natural and alternative ways of doing things. God Bless her!! I want to start off this evening by taking you back to two years ago. I was just settling into a new house and was surrounded by boxes of unpacked items weeks after moving in. It was this day I was stumbling through Netflix trying to find something to watch. As a lover of documentaries, I final settled on one called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Having no clue about minimalism or its concepts I decided it would be interesting and hopefully amuse my short attention span. An hour and a twenty minutes later it left me with a new perspective on the world and enthusiastic to put what I’d just learnt into practice. For those of you who aren’t most familiar with minimalism, it is a concept based around owning less things. It considers materialism, consumerism, sustainability and mental health as well as the social standards enforced on us through platforms such as social media and advertisement to help focus on the things that are meaningful and important. And by no means am I a perfect example of a minimalist but I would like to share this evening the benefits I’ve experienced by embracing minimalism and the broader effects of minimalism. Before my minimalist journey I was overwhelmed with objects, I had abundant amounts of cloths, old toys and just general things that that looked pretty and some things that I was going to fix one day. Constantly having the need to buy things and falling into the consumerism culture. Anxious and mentally drained by product promotions online and the eternal specials at Kmart the useless mini collections throughout my house started to get not so mini… The day I watched that documentary I went into my bedroom and started compiling a mound of things to get rid, because no, I don’t need 30 pairs of socks or that one painting from year 5 that so horrid it would just pass as art if you squint far from a distance. So, every item I owned I asked myself two questions: Does this object serve a purpose and does this object bring me joy? Anything that didn’t fit in that criteria I either donated to lifeline or put it straight in the bin. This process wasn’t short, deciding what I needed and truly thinking about what made me happy was challenging, I took photos beforehand of some objects I associated with memories I didn’t want to let go of quite yet before giving them away and made a box full of things that I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to keep. Two weeks went by and that boxed stayed in the corner of my room untouched, and I knew it had to go. Little did I know that these first steps would change the way I live and make me question actions that others don’t think twice about. Having less objects has allowed me to focus on the things that are important to me and I truly love. I’m no longer overwhelmed by objects nor impulse purchase, and now embrace the objects that spark meaning and joy. As part of my journey I started to think about the number of things I owned and got rid of and never used. I started to think about why I needed 2 or more of the exact same things, and why do we as humans want to buy so many things we don’t need? One quote that has stuck with me for a while now is by author and sociologist Juliet Schor, who said “We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word”… Consider then the things we as a society are brainwashed into buying. Classically advertised as cheap and affordable, we deny the thoughts that the products we commonly buy are made and mass produced in unethical and dehumanizing conditions. We don’t take into account, who made it, is it sustainable, am I contributing to a better society and community or better yet, how long will this item serve me? Fast fashion, disposable items, poor quality and having cheap items rapidly available to us inclines impulse purchase of things we don’t really need. Advertised to us as must haves and any other selling point that can pressure and persuade just about anyone, our society revolves around materialism. This consumerism culture has gotten out of hand with too many people needing to feed their never-ending desire for material things. In recent months these issues have been brought to attention. Decluttering and minimizing is becoming widely accepted with many communities challenging the material life. So today I challenge you to really think about the things you own. Do you love them, do they serve a purpose, where did they come from and how do they contribute to your life? I challenge you to purchase less replaceable goods and think about how you can sustainably purchase, recycle and support local businesses to live a life free from things and full of love, and finally, I challenge you to let things go. Allow yourself to hold onto memories and not objects, to focus on the things that really matter.