News Treehugger Voices The Minimalists' New Book Goes Beyond Decluttering, Focuses on Relationships 'Love People Use Things' is all about improving life's 7 essential relationships. By Katherine Martinko Katherine Martinko Twitter Senior Editor University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 12, 2021 04:45PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process The Minimalists give a talk in New York City in January 2018. Getty Images / Donald Bowers Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive When I heard that the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, were publishing yet another book, I wondered what more there was to say about decluttering one's home. The two have been such prolific writers and speakers over the past decade, and offered so many great strategies for tackling superfluous stuff in one's home, that it was hard to imagine what fresh material they could find. Their new book, "Love People Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works" (Celadon, 2021), turned out to be different than I had expected. While it does devote a chapter to the usual decluttering methods for which the Minimalists have become famous, i.e. their "packing party" idea, where you pack up your entire house and only remove from the boxes what you need to live, and their Minimalist Game, where you donate/discard one item on the first day of the month, two on the second, etc., it quickly morphed into something different. "Love People Use Things" is more of a relationship book—a how to do life book—exploring the ways in which a person interacts with the world. It examines "the seven essential relationships that make us who we are: stuff, truth, self, values, money, creativity, and people." As Millburn (who does most of the book's writing) explains, "These relationships crisscross our lives in unexpected ways, providing destructive patterns that frequently repeat themselves, too often left unexamined because we have buried them beneath materialistic clutter. This book offers the tools to help in the fight against consumerism, clearing the slate to make room for a meaningful life." What follows is a book that uses physical minimalism and decluttering as a springboard toward living a better life that is carefully and consciously built on a foundation of integrity, clear communication skills, astute financial planning, a commitment to maintaining health and exploring one's creativity, and choosing friends carefully. All of this becomes easier when the stuff is out of the way. The book contains deeply personal accounts of both Joshua's and Ryan's lives as children and as younger adults, struggling with debt, substance abuse, and infidelity, as well as a more recent health crisis for Millburn, brought on by E.coli poisoning (still not fully resolved). Readers learn details about these two men that they may not have known already, but it gives their message legitimacy. Obviously, they know what it's like to feel depleted, at rock bottom, and how to make tough decisions to pull oneself up and out of a hole. At the end of each chapter, Nicodemus chimes in with a series of questions aimed at stimulating thoughtful introspection about the various relationships and how to develop and improve each one. Readers are encouraged to interact using a journal. My favorite part was the section on developing one's creative interests, which requires focusing on a task and resisting the urge to participate in anything that comes up. Removing the superfluous from one's life is also called "the joy of missing out," and productivity Tanya Dalton is quoted in the book, saying, "Doing less might seem counterintuitive, but doing less is more productive because you're concentrating on the work you actually want to be doing." The essence of the message is to forge a well-balanced relationship with technology, instead of letting it overtake your life. As a self-help book, "Love People Use Things" may not wow you with its aphorisms, but it does offer the kind of basic practical advice that you'd want a good, loyal, and extremely blunt friend to sit down and give if you were going through a rough time. No one can go wrong with advice like "start saving money today," "get rid of the toxic friends," "choose truth over lies," and "health is one of most important investments you can ever make in yourself." "Love People Use Things" will be in bookstores on July 14, 2021.