Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.

FOREST INK: Lessons from minimalism

Jim Hilton examines the generational differences in minimalism

After enjoying a home cooked meal with our social bubble, we all (ages 8 to 75) watched a documentary about being minimalists. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus have help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and Netflix films. The Minimalists have been featured in a number of news outlets and were attracting large crowds of all ages during the later part of their tour. In retrospect, I was surprised that the youngest viewers in our group sat quietly through the Netflix as the older members made comments about how much we had in common with the people featured in the film.

Being the oldest member of our COVID bubble and owner of a small business, a collector of sorts, carpenter and mechanic, I had by far the largest nest egg. The best way of describing my holdings would be to imagine a list of stuff for an auction sale of a small sized farm or logging company. My last count of all the internal combustion engines on the property was around 20 plus.

My wife would be a close second as a stuff holder, but we have not always been accumulators. After one year of marriage we went to work in Colombia SA for 3 years during which time our total possessions fit into 4 suitcases and few boxes stored under a pool table back in Canada.

While it may not be apparent we are trying to reduce our carbon foot print at least from an energy point of view by installing a geothermal furnace, adding window covers in the winter and I have been collecting used Canola oil from a number or restaurants that I clean up and use in my diesel truck. So far we have not taken any cruises and to date, I have not used any commercial air travel for 11 years and it has been more than double that time for my wife.

Having an acreage promotes the accumulation of stuff as you can spread it out and not keep tripping over things which discourages hording.

Most of my equipment is in reasonable working order and I do use most of it a little each year, so I along with many other boomers will not likely downsize much while we are still reasonably active.

According to a recent news source comparing millennials to the older generations they may not have the same accumulation tendencies as the Boomers. Many who live in the urban settings don’t own vehicles because public transit costs less overall and is more convenient in many cases. They are not willing to go into debt to buy a large house like their parents and many are choosing tiny homes or apartments which don’t allow them to accumulate as much stuff. Many are choosing not to have children but most have pets (dogs being the most common). They tend to order things on line rather than using the big box stores(less waste than big stores that have to keep lots of sizes on hand).

The younger generations support the libraries more and are making crafts rather than buying cheap big box store goods. They eat better (52% more vegetables), support small craft beer operations and get drunk less. They travel with a purpose rather than staying in 5 star hotels they prefer small local establishments and travel to get to know the area and its people and also have a more social purpose for travel rather than just entertainment. They are more skeptical about large traditional financial institutions and are turning to small independent more hands on investments. Time will tell how much less stuff will be used by the younger generations.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

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