I spent more time processing oranges for the dehydrator today. It gave me a lot of time to think (my daughter was using the computer and I didn't have the escape of TED Talks today). Drying oranges myself is not as easy as just buying whatever dry fruit the grocery has to offer. So why do I do it?
Partially, I dry the wealth of oranges that grow in my yard to prevent waste. I hate seeing food lay on the ground and rot when I know there are people somewhere who would appreciate having food. I donate what I can, but I also put up some myself for future use. After all, avoiding transportation and packaging is less wasteful, and I'm interested in reducing my waste along with the stuff around me.
But I think I do it for other reasons as well. I like being intentional about what my family consumes, in both senses of the word. People consume food, and people consume "goods." I've been working to reduce the consumption of goods, but we really can't reduce the consumption of food around here.
Being aware and reducing consumption of goods isn't always easy. People might look at you as being strange, different. It's hard for people to stop swimming with the current and find their own way. My way probably doesn't look like your way, especially if you live outside the citrus belt. My way is right for me (and getting better) but it's not going to be right for you.
Twenty years ago I became vegetarian. This didn't make sense to my meat-and-potatoes dad, but he's come to accept it. It's gotten easier over the years. My brother-in-law doesn't understand why we don't watch TV at our house (we've even given up cable). But it works for us, and he doesn't live here. Many people don't understand why I don't buy clothes new, or shop recreationally. But they don't have to understand for me to feel more comfortable this way.
Becoming minimalist is different. It goes against the advertisers, against the marketers, against the social construct that says you are what you buy, what you own. You are the person your experience makes you. You might be the traveler, or the reader, or the volunteer. Starting the change might be difficult, but you're the person who has to live in your own skin. Don't try to live up to the expectations of people on the outside.
It might not be easy in the beginning, but it gets easier the longer you do it.