Biking and Minimalism

An unexpected (although looking back, seemingly obvious) result of living by bike is the minimalism brought into my life by going from four wheels to two.

As with the sense of no longer owning a giant physical liability of a hunk of rotting metal (I’ll explain all the particular traumas in another post), living by bike has freed up a lot of other physical space by limiting random shopping. 

Don’t get me wrong, I can and do still go shopping when I have access to a car. My last ikea trip is a testament to my love for stuff. 

But this article really spoke to me, and when it came to “purposeful buying” I suddenly recalled a phenomenon that used to hit me when I lived in Charleston. Stuck in traffic between jobs, or finished with work early, I would pull into a TJ Maxx, an Old Navy, or a thrift store and blow off steam by shopping for deals.

Friends and family will tell you, I love a good sale. I can always find something that needs to come home with me, and as a result when I lived in Charleston I found myself in bigger and bigger apartments.

When I moved to Greenville I sold about half of our furniture, clothing and “stuff” to go from a 1400 square feet to 850. And I loved it. But I think had I kept the habit of driving and shopping whenever the urge hit me, I’d have wound up in the same “stuff” rut. 

Living by bike, you take what you can carry with you. I have rigged up some creative solutions to this, such as when I took this framed necklace display to a shop where I consign handmade jewelry:

I’ve also put together my classroom at work bit by bit, bringing in books, supplies, even unassembled ikea furniture pieces in my panniers and bags. 

(As an aside, I am glad that I don’t craft and sell furniture or sculptures, and I hope I can stay in my current work location forever).

But having to pause to consider where it will go on my bike, or having to decide to wait and come back later for an item, has often led to the realization of “I don’t need this after all”. Instead of shopping to relieve stress, I pedal. Rather than thoughtlessly throwing an item in my cart and a trunk, I place it in my basket and nestle it carefully in my bag. And most often, instead of feeling that something has to come home with me, I observe it, appreciate it, and let it be.  

Biking and Minimalism