To me, that is an odd – and existential – question, along the lines of the eternal question “What is art?”
I answer this question this way: It is what you define it to be.
In redefining myself, I have begun to make some changes that contribute to my own definition of living in a minimalist way:
Reduce ownership. This is a first and easy to enumerate step. Don’t keep a hundred different types of clothes when just a few will do. Don’t keep twenty separate computers when you only need a couple. This is a constant battle, but it is worth it.
Reduce purchasing. The goal of business is to get people to buy – and buy and buy. Thus, when a business says you need to get something, think twice. This also holds for updates and upgrades. Buy things that don’t require constant updates or upgrades. Buy items that don’t force you to buy only one very specific item (such as room deoderizers that only work with a single refill item). See if you can last a week without buying anything.
Reduce usage. Don’t use the dishwasher or the clothes dryer if you don’t have to. These contribute to electricity usage, and thus increase your costs and your impact on the environment. (Just remember to use the dishwasher once in a while or it will require expensive repair.)
Reduce the unneccessary. Do you really need a couch? Or those extra lamps? Re-evaluate every item to see if you need it. Don’t rule out anything categorically – think. Do you really need it? Dump if you don’t – and before you change your mind: give it to Goodwill.
There are a number of blogs that cover minimalism:
One of my inspirations has been homes like Tumbleweed Homes. If a person can live in one of these, certainly the rest of us can reduce our personal clutter down a lot further than it is today. A counter-inspiration for me is also the current crop of homes that are still being built today – homes that are so big that cities and counties are passing laws limiting house size.
Most importantly, minimalism is what you make it. You define what it means to you.