Christmas Shopping in Copenhagen

Filling Up on Experiences

We are in the midst of a secular holiday season that primes us to fill up on purchases. Stimulate the economy. Seasonal feasts and gift exchanges empty our bank accounts while stuffing our bodies and our lives. But advocates for minimalism emphasize filling up on experiences rather than stuff.


In his book Stuffocation, James Wallman tells us that capitalism and the industrial revolution have been “fantastic” for humanity. He says:

Industrial and consumer revolution have made people like you and me rich. Normal people have running water at homes. It may sound simple, but you turn the tap and you have hot water. In the 1930’s only 30 percent of the homes had that. Or imagine older times. Do you think that Ottoman sultans could have turned the tap and gotten the water temperature exactly as they wanted? Probably not. Your shower is better than a sultan’s shower in terms of function.

How’s That Working for Us Now?

However, all that comes with a big caveat. We now have so much stuff that we’re running out of space. Our waste is filling the ocean with floating islands of plastic measuring more than 600,000 square miles.

The food supply is now so abundant that the availability of excess calories is “likely an important driver of the obesity epidemic.”

Conscientious Objectors

Amidst the pressure to overspend and over-consume during the holidays, some folks are boycotting the spending spree of this season. It’s a small number – perhaps 13 percent of households.

Others are going with a minimalist consumer style. It becomes a statement of identity. Even so, it opens an opportunity for marketers. CBC tells us that myriad minimalist home products promise to soothe our soul. Jaded by all the hype, Natalie Reilly says that people who love decluttering and minimalism are probably rich and making a show of it. They’re just doing it with a new flair.

Meanwhile, we’re up for a quiet holiday to reflect upon more spiritual priorities. And enjoy the distinct experiences of this season.

Click here for more from James Wallman, author of Stuffocation. He’ll be happy to sell you his book.

Christmas Shopping in Copenhagen, photograph © Kristoffer Trolle / flickr

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December 19, 2018

3 Responses to “Filling Up on Experiences”

  1. December 19, 2018 at 10:54 pm, David Brown said:

    I have a friend who says, “Junk is the stuff you get rid of and stuff is the junk you keep.”

  2. December 20, 2018 at 2:45 pm, Allen Browne said:


    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


    • December 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm, Ted said:

      And I wish the very same to you and all your loved ones, Allen!