By Gregory Cannella and Alexa Coveney
She carries around a pink duffle bag with all of her belongings, a black backpack for her school supplies and a portable hammock she relaxes in between classes. For Priscilla Moley, a 21-year-old Long Island resident, it has been over a year since she bought any type of clothing.
“I use to really be into fashion,” Moley said. “Now I have two pairs of jeans and shorts, one pair of sneakers and a couple pair of shirts.”
Moley is part of a growing trend known as minimalism, a process of tidying up, stripping down and simplifying one’s lifestyle. This can include the clothes you wear, the car you drive and places you live.
“Minimizing the amount of clutter in my life gave me more money and more time,” Moley said.
Cynthia Braun, a 52-year-old certified professional organizer and feng shui consultant, who said that minimalism is a lifestyle and more than just decluttering
“Decluttering is relinquishing ownership of stuff accumulated over the years, minimalism is a way of life,” Braun said. “You’re more in control of your stuff instead of the other way around, it takes a large weight off of people once they declutter”
Minimalism goes deeper than just decluttering an individual’s life, it’s becoming aware of your surroundings, the environment and personal economic benefits.
“Minimalism as a movement is more about the conscious nature of paring down to essentials,” Catherine Marrone, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University, said. “One is being aware of the environmental, economic and social effects of overusing or over consuming.”
Moley uses minimalism as a way to secure her financial future and struggles with the financial burden of college. She is a biology major at Stony Brook University, who plans to get her doctorate.
“I have a lot of loans right now and sometimes I think about it and if it is really worth it,” Moley said. “It’s a conflict because it is a really big commitment.”
However, the trend of minimalism isn’t the same as being cost effective, according to Erin Lowry, a 25-year-old founder of brokemillennial.com, a website for building wealth and understanding money, said there will always be people who want to live a simpler life.
“Much of it links to the recent rise in people pursuing early retirement and financial independence,” Lowry said. “The amount of media coverage and discussion around people being minimalists is certainly a trend.”
Although you can live comfortably as a minimalist, you need to already achieved a certain financial status, according to Lowry.
“Being a minimalist by choice is a privilege,” Lowry said. “Being a minimalist because you’re financially strapped for cash and unable to cover the necessities is not what people are referring.”
Moley comes from a middle class family, where she gave up her prius, bought by her parents, and other luxuries she owned. She said she has been judged because of her minimalist lifestyle.
“My parents have judged my extensively,” Moley said. “My mom ask how can I trade everything I could ever want, but what she doesn’t see is that it’s better to have this freedom.”
Marrone said the trend of minimalism is a movement seen within groups who tend to be more aware, more educated and more likely to use digital advances.
“Minimalist are conscious of their consumptions of resources in all areas of their lives,” Marrone said.
Moley said she doesn’t feel deprived from society’s standards of a normal lifestyle. The objects she has are essential, but nothing that is so essential she can’t without.
“It’s not for everybody,” Moley said. “Having material possessions for some people fulfills them, but for myself it has made me a lot happier. ”