Jana Zille's sitting hall - a minimalist and use only 30 pieces of clothing and very little furniture. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: With a growing number of online classified apps, charities and free recycling pages on social media, more people in the UAE are finding it easier to transition towards living a more minimalistic lifestyle.

Apps like Dubizzle and The Luxury Closet have given more residents the motivation to get rid of unwanted clothes, bags and shoes for a small price tag.

The Luxury Closet saw 25,000 items listed during the second half of 2018. Kunal Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer at The Luxury Closet said the core category of the app is second-hand and brand new handbags sold by residents in the UAE.

“We do feel people are more conscious of their closet’s value, more keen on the idea of reselling due both to increased awareness of pre-owned market for handbags, clothing and shoes, as well to a broken barrier of the “taboo” of selling such products.”

Kapoor said people are more conscious in purchasing “investment pieces,” often considering the resale value in their choice.

People are [becoming] more conscious of their closet’s value, more keen on the idea of reselling due both to increased awareness of pre-owned market for handbags, clothing and shoes, as well to the broken barrier of the ‘taboo’ of selling such products.

- Kunal Kapoor | CEO of The Luxury Closet, a high end online resale marketplace

Sellers are also motivated by minimalism, as many report the reason for selling is due to having too many items they don’t wear.

“They feel that decluttering their wardrobes will help grant them a clearer mind,” said Kapoor.

The app added nearly 15,000 bags to their catalogue in 2018, with the volume of items at a value of $5 million (Dh18.3 million) a month, compared to $10,000 (Dh36,700) during the app’s first month of operation in 2012.

Dubizzle reported 138,996 ads for clothing and accessories between July and December 2018.

Social media influence

Social media pages that promote free recycling are also encouraging people to recycle their unwanted items.

The ‘Minimalism UAE minimalist lifestyle’ group on Facebook has been growing, while many other similar pages based in different emirates around the country have recently popped up, attracting more expatriates to declutter.

For Susy Aryani Singgih, a lawyer from Indonesia, becoming a minimalist is her goal.

“I would not call myself a minimalist yet. The road to minimalism is a long one if your plan is to dispose of items gradually and responsibly,” she said.

So far, I have gotten rid of 50 per cent of my belongings and aim to reach 70 per cent by end of the year ... Fabrics, bed linen, pillow cases ... I have given these away to Rags to Riches, an organisation in the UAE run by women who use their sewing skills to make dresses for girls in need.

- Susy Aryani Singgih | Dubai-based lawyer

Singgih was inspired by the people of Ladakh in the Himalayas, who do not believe in wasting anything.

“They will find a use for everything they possess, no matter how worn out. They have traditionally recycled everything due to scarce resources, given their remoteness. I have taken a leaf out of that book,” she said.

“So far, I have gotten rid of 50 per cent of my belongings and aim to reach 70 per cent by end of the year,” she said.

She has donated many of her unwanted clothes to organisations that help Syrian refugees, as well as to people who were impacted by last year’s Kerala floods. She has also reached out to Emirates Red Crescent during Ramadan to donate additional clothes and unused diapers and toiletries.

“Fabrics, bed linen, pillow cases and even towels that are in good condition, I have given these away to Rags to Riches, an organisation in the UAE consisting of women who use their sewing skills to sew dresses for girls in need around the world,” said Singgih.

For items that cannot be given away to charities, Singgih uses Facebook pages to give them to those who need them in her community.

“I have also used Shedd, Dubizzle and Facebook pages to sell certain items that are high-end or more suitable for recycling,” she said.

“Happiness is not defined with the material things you possess.”

“The less I own, the less I have to clean.”

Sammirah Muheidien, 44, a homemaker from India, said she was inspired by the UAE Facebook minimalism group and has been practising minimalism for almost a year now.

“I started by clearing things out from under my bed were I used to hoard gifts and different items that were given to me by family. I also dumped my bed and bought another that has no space underneath for storage,” she told Gulf News.

The Sharjah resident is working on holding back when it comes to her love for collecting books.

“I am a cleanaholic and it stressed me out to keep cleaning all these books and items around the house. So the less I own, the less I have to clean,” she said.

She cleans out her closet every few months, giving her unwanted clothes to charities around the country.

Muheidien has also joined the recycling trend and launched a free recycling page on Facebook to encourage residents in Sharjah to declutter their homes.

There is a strategy to categorising unwanted items, she said. “You have to segregate the items based on categories — Use in Future; Maybe; Throw Out, and Sell,” said Muheidien.

If you don’t use something for six months, you probably don’t need it, is what she believes.

Insight from a social media expert

The growing trend of free recycling of furniture, accessories, electronics and more on social media, has effectively impacted the number of people consciously decluttering their homes.

Farrukh Naeem, a tech blogger and social media strategist based in Abu Dhabi, said he believes in living a simple life with little possessions.

“Second-hand goods don’t find buyers unless you sell things really cheap. So many times we have found it easier to simply give unwanted stuff away rather than try to sell it off. Apps, pages or forums that make this process easy and free surely help,” he told Gulf News.

Naeem pointed out that most people don’t have time to book ads, search for buyers, negotiate and bargain through phone calls, which makes social media pages and groups an effortless way to give away unwanted items. These pages target and engage specific audiences, who get notified when new posts are published.

He believes the trend of people giving away unwanted things will continue, with social media bridging the gap between those who have too much and those who have too little. The internet is full of content, from TED talks of people who left city life to live simply, and even build their own homes by hand, to apps and groups that share stories and tips on becoming a minimalist. “This information has built communities across borders who share the same goals and values, and has helped make people’s vision of a minimalistic lifestyle a reality,” said Naeem.