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Can Minimalism change the course of human history?

Minimalism is the thought of reducing your possessions for the betterment of yourself, or for whatever reason the practitioner chooses to do so. This can be accomplished in a number of ways; for instance, some minimalists go to extreme levels of only having 100 personal possessions, including clothing. I myself don't go to that depth of the philosophy, but it got me thinking; What if minimalism was combined with collective-consumerism in a modern urban setting?

Minimalism is trademarked by taking only what you need, and giving back in return. If this philosophy was combined with collective living, with people taking only what they need, more people could be supported under the system. I only buy what is necessary for myself to live comfortably. I volunteer regularly. I even donate ideas to my local government that will change my city for the better. Money that I earn that isn't put into savings is donated to my local orphanage that was down the street from where I grew up.

I choose to live in an apartment. Not because I can't afford a house, but because I don't want to live in the sprawl of suburbia, driving cars to do anything. I much prefer my bike. Minimalism is as much a choice as collective-consumerism is. You have to want to do it to be apart of it. I plan on raising any children (if any) to embrace minimalism, teaching them to make choices wisely. What minimalism does is makes you much more conscious of how much you take and put into this planet.

What I'm asking the TED community is, would a widespread practice of minimalism change the world for the better, and if so, how much of a positive influence would it have on developing nations compared to developed? I apologize now if this wasn't presented clearly enough for you to understand what I was asking.

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  • Jul 26 2012: I like your definition of minimalism as " the thought of reducing your possessions for the betterment of yourself" and as "taking only what you need, and giving back in return." I truly believe that we tend to accumulate more possessions than what we need and rarely think about giving back in return or even sharing. I think your idea of minimalism is a point to contemplate not only on a personal level but also on a national and business level. We squander resources like hell every day and still worry about sustainability. Thank you!

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