Friday, June 14, 2019

All the Items You Really Need in Life

One year, I took a deep look at what possessions people really need and why.  As my children have moved out on their own, this list has been helpful as it represents the bare minimum a person needs to live and challenges societal norms of what a person should have.  I am sure there will be people reading this who would like to debate the items on the list. Debate away.  Use this as a starting point to compare with your belongings.  I challenge you to see if you can eliminate some unnecessary items in each category.


Purpose: Protect from elements (heat, cold, rain, snow). Interact with society in a conforming way.

Comments: Assume 2 weeks max clothing rotation, or, if you really want to be a minimalist, assume 2 total outfits – 1 on and 1 to wear while laundering. People own a lot of clothing and footwear because they have many roles in society that require different uniforms. Also they get tired of wearing the same clothes. If the focus is shifted to view clothes as protection from elements, people would need less because the clothes would serve that purpose (as opposed to looking nice). To minimize excess clothing, consider whether or not you would like to fit into society. Also consider how often you want to wash clothing.  I recommend getting clothes that are made with natural fiber, are neutral shades, are medium-weight fabric, are cross-seasonal fabric, are not too formal or casual, are cut-easy to layer, and have a medium fit.

·         Undergarments – Not really necessary but do allow sweat and secretions a place to go so outer clothing does not have to be laundered more frequently. Undergarments are accepted by society as normal, not totally necessary but highly desired.
·         Socks – keep feet warm and protect your feet from blisters, give sweat place to go. Not 100% necessary but nice to have.
·         Long Pants – Good for keeping warm, protection from harm (bugs, poison ivy, snow, etc.) Sometimes easy to move around in. If living in colder climates: may want different thickness pairs for different weather. If working, may need “uniform” for job.
·         Short Pants – Not really necessary but some preferred depending upon weather.
·         Skirt/dress – Same as shorts. Dress may be worn for special occasions.
·         Shirts – Only a few are really needed but many people have a large quantity to wear for different occasions (tank, blouse, basic long sleeve, basic short sleeve).
·         Swimsuit (optional).
·         Sweaters/Jackets – Purpose is to keep warm. Probably good to have varying weights for varying weather conditions (protection from cold, snow, and rain). 1 light-weight, 1 thick, 1 cardigan, 1 overcoat, 1 blazer
·         Hats – 1 for sun protection, 1 for cold protection. Rest that people own are extraneous.
·         Gloves – Protection from cold. Protection while working.
·         Handbag – To carry items from place to place.
·         Jewelry – optional.
·        Footwear – Keep feet warm and protect from various surfaces such as grass, concrete, and sand. Various styles for various uniforms.

Personal Hygiene Items

Purpose: Keep oneself clean and refreshed. Protect the body from decay and to honor the body.

Comments: Each individual should have these items as part of his/her personal belongings. However, if living in a shared space, many of these can be stored in a common grooming area or bathroom. (Of course, some of these are not necessary but…)

·         Hair comb
·         Hair cleaner (aka shampoo) – conditioner (optional)
·         Body wash/soap
·         Face wash (can use same as body wash but I have been told that gentler is better)
·         Tooth brush
·         Tooth floss
·         Tooth paste/fluoride
·         Body oil
·         Nail grooming – clippers, file
·         Feminine hygiene products (for females)
·         Deodorant (optional)
·         Shaving supplies (optional)
·         Toilet paper
·         Towel
·         Medicines – Plants work but nice to have
o   Antiseptic drops --- (Natural option is calendula drops)
o   Antibacterial cream --- bacitracin
o   Pain reliever --- Ibuprofen
o   Anti-inflammatory --- Benadryl
o   Skin soother --- aloe
o   Bug bites --- (Natural option is plantain leaf)
o   Disinfectant --- hydrogen peroxide/rubbing alcohol
o   Stomach soothing --- (Natural option is mint tea)
·         Compress
·         Bandages

Cooking/Food Preparation

Purpose: Consistent location for food preparation including items needed for food prep/storage/serving. Place to store items that are used for food prep.

Comments: A person or household could get by without all of these items, but for one that sees the value in home-cooked meals, these are needed. When cooking, it is best to only prepare enough food for the current meal and have no left-overs; therefore, you will always be eating fresh foods. Although it may be more time effective to prepare foods in bulk ahead of time, it is not as healthy. Going back to the “simple” goal, spending time for self-care tasks such as meal preparation is actually more balanced and allows your mind and body time to wind down from the stresses of the day. By the way, if you are dedicated to living minimally, you can research how to live without refrigeration; however we will assume a refrigerator is a necessity. We will also assume that there is a source of running water.

·         Plates, bowls, cups, utensils, every person in the household should have one of each. You may want extra place servings for guests unless you request guests bring own. I remember attending a dinner party in college where guests needed to bring their own place setting. Understandable in that setting where people are just starting out on their own but probably not acceptable after you have been established awhile.
·         Pans – 2 baking sheets with rim with sides, pie, loaf, and muffin; square baking dish
·         Pots – saucepan, frying, soup
·         Cooking utensils – Stirring spoon, ladle, spatula, tongs, vegetable peeler.
·         Measuring spoons and cups
·         Knives – chef’s, serrated, paring (sharpening steel for knives)
·         Strainer/sieve
·         Mortar and pestle
·         Rolling pin
·         Grinder – hand crank is sufficient
·         Bowl –  mixing/serving (3 of different sizes)
·         Swiss army knife with can opener
·         Funnel
·         Cutting board
·         Potato masher
·         Grater
·         2 gloves for hot items
·         Stove/oven – fire source

Food pantry

                Purpose: To keep some staples on hand for cooking with the fresh items obtained each week. Have some items on hand in case of emergency.

                Comments: There are many books written about the staples needed in a kitchen. This list differs from those in that it is bare essential. One could actually have less than these and still manage to prepare wonderful meals.

·         Grain (whole grain – flour not necessary)
·         Sweeteners – honey and/or maple syrup
·         Cornstarch
·         Baking soda
·         Baking powder
·         Shortening / oil
·         Dried fruits (including tomatoes)
·         Nuts
·         Seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin
·         Vinegar- apple cider, white
·         Canned or boxed milk – nut or  cow (optional)
·         Salt
·         Dried herbs and spices
·         Cocoa powder
·         Canned protein source such as tuna or legumes

·         Blanket
·         Sleep mat desired (protect from wet/bugs)

Shelter from Elements

Purpose: Provide consistent location on a regular basis (aka home). Consistent safe location for rest with security away from elements in order to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Protect from elements. Sanctuary. Place to regenerate.

Comments: People reading this are presumably from an industrialized society of individuals living in homes, apartments, or other permanent structures.  However, shelter can be a box, tent, or cave. It is important to create a space that is safe from the elements and relatively safe from intrusion. No place will be entirely immune from middle of the night catastrophe. Also, the location should be dark and quiet. Some would argue that these last two criteria are optional, but they are required for deep sleep. Any place that you can sleep, prepare and store food, groom yourself, and store your belongings is a shelter.

·         Source of heat during cold weather
·         Don’t really need lighting but nice to have
·         Furniture is not really needed but…
o   Table
o   Chair
o   Bed/sleep mat/blanket
o   Storage cabinet
o   Toilet (preferred)
o   Sink

Transportation Method

Purpose: Way to travel outside of the safe shelter (mentioned above) as well as a way to interact with the outside world.

Comments: In my world, everything is spread out so I need car. However, a bike would be okay, and of course walking is an option, but would be more limiting as to the distance able to travel.  If a vehicle such as a car is needed, it would have to be able to be maintained by the owner, either by repairing it themselves or paying for maintenance.  This adds a level of complexity and responsibility to transportation and requires that the person earn enough money to maintain the vehicle or replace it if needed.


Purpose: Maintain land and home. Maintain all of possessions.

Comments: When you present the list as listed below it is apparent that you don’t really need much. Take a look at all of the tools and gadgets that you have. Are they for convenience? Do you have them because they are cool or because someone else thought you would want it?

General tools:
·         Scissors
·         Knife
·         Pen/pencil
·         Paper
House cleaning tools
·         Broom (vacuum optional if carpet)
·         Rag/scrub brush
Garden tools (optional for those with a yard):
·         Shovel
·         Rake – hand
·         Lawn mower
·         Pruning shears
·         Bucket/water can
·         Axe/hatchet
·         Snow shovel

Cleaning supplies
·         Lemon
·         Oil
·         Vinegar
·         Baking soda

Purpose: To prove many legal issues that may arise within society.
Comments: These papers are really all you need. All but taxes easily fit in a hand held box. In case of emergency – you would not need to take the taxes with you.

·         Passport/license – to prove who you are
·         Paperwork relating to things you own such as home/auto – to prove what you own
·         Health info – in case someone else needs to find out your medical history
·         Tax paperwork – to show that you are a law abiding citizen
·         Legal documents – to track issues that you have had in the future or to prevent future issues

Entertainment (optional)

Purpose: Provide options for mental, physical, and spiritual stimulation when not using energy for daily living.

Comments: Communication devices, books, and hobby supplies are lumped into this category. They are not really necessary but a familiar way of life.
Communication devices - Phone is nice to have, but is not really a necessity for living. However, a computer/digital device may be a necessity for your lifestyle and choices as they are part of current society.

Books - How many books and of what subjects are necessary to keep as part of your personal responsibility?
o   Fiction – no need to keep, these can be obtained from a library
o   Non-fiction – have for reference that you use often and are not easily found elsewhere.  For example, I prefer books about plant and herb identification.

Hobby supplies (examples)
o   Craft supplies
o   Music supplies
o   Art supplies
o   Games-cards, few board games

                Purpose: To serve as reminders to your soul.
Comments: Not necessary but some people prefer them. It’s all about personal preference.
Examples of items:
·         Greeting card
·         Photos
·         Statues
·         Religious items

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