Alexander Fufaev
My name is Alexander FufaeV and here I write about:

December 25, 2022: Pets are Modern-Day Slaves

December 25, 2022. It was Christmas morning. As I woke up, Mo sat on my windowsill, gazing outside. I lay in bed, observing him, probably watching passersby or cars with curiosity. "He'll never know what it's like to be outside, free. Trapped in Hanna's apartment, forever and ever," I thought to myself.

Then I thought about Joachim and his dog Luna. I couldn't quite understand why he loved his dog so much, yet still ate meat. Perhaps Luna was simply a comfort against loneliness, always there for cuddles and always ready without resistance. But I would never tell Joachim that. He would probably argue that it's always been this way, that humans have always lived with animals. That's just human nature.

Then Dascha and Tobi came to mind, who had adopted a Spanish street dog named Nika. To me, they were clearly more animal-friendly because they had rescued Nika from human cruelty in Spain. Why did Nika become a street dog in the first place? Because some Spaniard got tired of their toy and simply abandoned it outside.

I got up and went to Mo.

"No, I definitely won't keep pets," I muttered to myself, stroking his head. As I continued to pet him, I pondered...

"In my perfect world, there are no enslaved species, neither in factory farms nor in our own homes. Neither rabbits and hamsters, which my sisters used to have, nor me, who once had a budgie named Kescha in Russia, belong in cages. In my world, there are no genetically manipulated Chihuahuas or pugs, no animal cages, no house cats, no rabbits, and no hamsters running on wheels. There are also no dogs as friends and entertainers for lonely owners. I don't want total control over the lives of other species. I don't want to decide when the dog should go for a walk, what and when it should eat, or whether it should play with me now. I don't want to engage in slavery across species. The first successful step was combating slavery within our own species. The second step must be combating cross-species slavery."

After this contemplation and breakfast, I sorted out all the duplicate charging cables and adapters for my tablet and phone. Then I moved on to my next big project: selling unnecessary electronic devices.

I took photos of my two monitors and monitor arm and listed them on eBay Classifieds. Yesterday, on the train to Hanover, I read an article about productivity that gave me the idea to replace my huge monitor setup with a single monitor. Often enough, I noticed that the second monitor only brought distraction. On one monitor, I read or worked on my master's thesis, while on the other monitor, either a YouTube video was playing or a programming code was open. This multitasking, as my research showed, led to lower productivity and increased error rates.

I already dismantled one monitor to get used to the transition to just one monitor and temporarily placed it next to the TV. Later, I would replace the other monitor with a non-curved 27-inch monitor. Then, I took photos of my TV from different angles and also listed it on eBay Classifieds. To be honest, I rarely watched TV, and when I did, I often got caught in an endless spiral of negative news about the Ukraine war or channel surfing, which resembled endless scrolling through social media – a pointless stare at reality shows. It made me glad that minimalism prompted me to sell the TV.

To further increase my productivity on the computer, I memorized the most important keyboard shortcuts for common tasks, such as cutting clips in a video editing program, switching, closing, and opening browser tabs, or toggling between application windows. This, as it will later show, will significantly speed up my work compared to clicking with the mouse.

Next, I took photos of my tablet and also listed it on eBay Classifieds. Originally, I used the tablet for taking notes in lectures or for submitting exercise sheets digitally. Since I no longer needed to do these things, the tablet became unnecessary. Everything else I could do on it, I could do just as well on the laptop, phone, or PC.

By selling three electronic devices, I hoped for more time for other activities, a noticeable reduction in energy consumption – which was particularly beneficial in times of the Ukraine war with rising electricity and gas prices – and overall, less dependence of my life on electronic devices.

Then, my gaze wandered to the wall shelf. There, I noticed my old square calculator. "Perhaps I could sell that too," I thought. After all, I no longer took exams and mostly used my phone or Google for calculations. I placed the calculator on the floor.

In the top shelf level, I spotted my old rectangular glasses. They were kept in case my current glasses broke. That way, I could at least put on the old glasses and see a bit sharper. During my exploration of minimalism, I had learned that the phrase "You never know, you might need it someday" leads to accumulating things that ultimately just lie around. I confronted my just-in-case fear and placed the old glasses, including the case and lens cloths, next to the calculator.

Actually, I didn't need the glasses case for my current glasses either, as I always either placed the glasses on the table or wore them on my nose. And I also never used the accompanying lens cloth, as it was much easier to use the end of my T-shirt for that purpose. These thoughts motivated me to also put the case along with the lens cloth of my current glasses on the pile to get rid of.

In a pink box on the bottom shelf, I found more things. My sunglasses, which I unfortunately couldn't wear due to my nearsightedness, my bike key, and my organ donor card. Then there were a dental night guard and some medications and band-aids that hadn't expired yet, but which I probably wouldn't use in the coming years. I didn't want to be sick anymore and didn't want to see medications. I put them all on the pile to be disposed of.

Among these items were also mementos that I hadn't been able to part with until now. A birthday card from Jule for my thirtieth birthday. I picked it up, squatted on the floor, and read it again:

Congratulations on your 30th birthday! We've spent almost half of your past year apart, and yet you've made me as happy as I probably haven't been in eight years. I never thought there would be someone on this earth who would make me feel as free as I need to be – and with that great person, you, I'm together!

I'm so grateful for your understanding and love. I hope we'll tackle all the challenges that still lie ahead of us together and that our relationship will only grow stronger through them.

You're amazing, and I love you.
Your Jule.

Tears dripped onto the paper, my kisses mixing with the salty drops before I eventually tore the birthday card into small pieces. I placed the torn remains gently next to Jana's leaflet and Gogi's cross, which I had taken out of the box earlier. A moment of silence and contemplation before I opened the second birthday card and let the lines captivate me:

Dear Sasha (with a sharp S), my Sister of the Light, I wish you all the wonderful, good, and beautiful things on your birthday!

I am grateful to have met you because your authenticity and loving warmth are unique. We've already shared some beautiful moments together, and I look forward to many more magical moments with you! <3

Your Mara
PS: Can I be honest? I still want your hands up on my body

Beneath the paper lay a mousepad, designed by Jule in the style of a Universal Thinker, with electrons and protons swirling wildly around. In the center was a magnifying glass, its lens filled with a wintry picture of me and Jule from bygone times when our relationship was still young and fresh. It was a heavy moment to let go of this gift. A lump formed in my throat as I lifted it out of the box and brought it to the kitchen along with the torn pieces of paper.

Opening the lid of the paper waste, I decisively threw the fragments in. Then, I pulled out scissors from the drawer and positioned them at the mousepad. I hesitated. The lump in my throat returned, and tears began to flow. They fell onto our picture. I closed my eyes and made the cut. When I opened them again and looked at the partially severed mousepad, I felt pain in my chest, as if I were Voldemort destroying his own Horcrux. I completed the cut, splitting us apart, and threw the two pieces into the trash.

Finally, I sat at the dining table and cried softly, my gaze lowered. "It has to be this way," I whispered, wiping my face with my hands.

Once I had calmed down, I checked my compartment in the storage room to see if there was anything else I could further minimize. There, I found two cloth bags. Already, one of these cloth bags, along with my backpack, was sufficient for most cases. I reached for one of the bags and packed in the two glass straws, which were also in the storage room. "Don't need these. Take them to Borsum with the cloth bag," was my thought.

I gently placed Gogi's cross, which had been in my pocket in the meantime, on my shelf in the room, where it rested visibly – a beautiful reminder of the past that I didn't want to throw away. It was a difficult balancing act between letting go and preserving. Ultimately, I decided to take the cross with me on my next visit to my family and slip it to Lauri.

I lay briefly on my bed, contemplating my wardrobe, which stood against the wall in front of the bed. In that moment, I realized I owned far too many clothing items. I got up to approach my closet and inspect the clothes more closely. Shirts or T-shirts? Which are more versatile? T-shirts can be worn under a sweater, paired with a blazer, or even used as sleepwear. And which are more comfortable? T-shirts. Easier to maintain? Definitely T-shirts, as shirts require ironing to look good. Also, you don't have to button them up not only on your body but also in the closet to prevent them from falling off. I took out my yellow, light blue, and checkered shirts and laid them on the bed. Then I took out my white and black shirts from the closet. While the black shirt may look sexy, the white shirt was more versatile. After a moment's thought, I placed the black shirt along with the hanger on the bed with the other shirts.

"One shirt for special occasions is enough," I whispered to myself and hung the white shirt back in the closet.

Next, I turned my attention to my sweaters. An advanced minimalist on YouTube had provided guidelines for the number of different clothing items. He managed well with three sweaters. Inspired by his minimalism, I decided to follow his example and placed two thick sweaters on the bed. This left me with one warm gray sweater and two lighter ones in black and dark blue.

I reduced my collection of sixteen T-shirts to five white and five black ones, placing the rest on the bed. From my five everyday pants, including a blue jeans, I chose the best four and placed the sorted-out pants on the bed. From the three pairs of sweatpants, I kept one olive and one black pair, placing the light gray pair on the bed. From the five pairs of shorts, I kept one black Adidas pair, one chic dark blue pair, and one cyan-colored swimsuit. I sorted out the denim shorts.

Next, I turned to my underwear. Eighteen pairs of socks were reduced to ten, including colorful and black pairs as well as a pair of woolen socks. I kept ten comfortable pairs out of the sixteen pairs of underwear and placed the remaining ones on the bed. I also placed the two folded winter scarves on the bed. I had never worn them, perhaps because a jacket with a hood was sufficient for me. The decision whether to keep Jana's crocheted hat or a dark blue hat from Amazon was easy. Jana's hat went on the bed. A dark blue winter jacket was sorted out, leaving me with only one warm dark blue coat for winter and a black rain jacket for windy and rainy weather.

Then I went to the hallway to inspect my shoes more closely. Two pairs of sports shoes were unnecessary. I had a pair of lightweight black sports shoes and a pair of gray running shoes that I wore more often. Therefore, the decision was easy. I could sort out the black sports shoes. The shoe rack now only contained my everyday running shoes for daily wear and exercise, as well as a pair of black business shoes for a business look in daily life and for special occasions.

As I placed the black sports shoes next to the bed, I realized how large the pile of decluttered clothing already was. After my last decluttering session, I thought it was impossible to get rid of even more clothing. But minimalism seemed to help me expand my limits.

My stomach growled. So, off to the kitchen to cook something quick. I had wanted to keep going relentlessly because it was incredibly fun. In the storage room, I found whole grain pasta and a can of tomatoes. Together with two chopped, fried onions and three cloves of garlic, I whipped up pasta with tomato sauce.

After eating, I photographed all the decluttered clothing, neatly folded them, and stacked them in a corner of the room. Then, one by one, I listed the clothing for sale and giveaway on classified ads websites.

As I decluttered, many hangers freed up from which the sorted clothing was hanging. I stacked them aside and offered them for giveaway as well.

"1, 2, 3..." I quietly counted the remaining hangers in the closet. I could count exactly twenty. "That should be enough," I thought, "I don't need more."

Photographing and listing all these items took so long that the clock already showed nine in the evening. I quickly had my dinner while watching a video of a woman sleeping on the floor and explaining the benefits of this sleeping method. She rested on two stacked blankets and emphasized that sleeping on the floor had relieved her back and neck pain. I occasionally had neck pain upon waking up, and perhaps this sleeping style would help me avoid it too. She also talked about something spiritual, about being more grounded by sleeping closer to the ground. Here, I tuned out and decided to try sleeping only on the mattress and the slatted frame.

In the room, I fetched my toolbox and started dismantling the white bed frame. After finishing, I placed the thirty-centimeter thick double mattress on the two slatted frames and lay down on the bed. I moved back and forth, rolled from side to side. The feeling was just as comfortable as with the bed frame. Although it was unusual to lie so low, it didn't feel worse.

"I'll get used to the height," I muttered and listed the photographed bed frame for sale.

"I accomplished so much today," I said proudly as I lay in bed at the end of the day. After browsing on my phone in the Bumble app for a while, I turned off the floor lamp.

"I wonder how I'll sleep tonight," I whispered and closed my eyes.

Learnings from this life phase:

  1. I need less clothing than I thought.
  2. Just because I use something regularly doesn't mean I need it.
  3. I will never own entertainment slaves or forced friends in the form of pets. This means I won't buy birds or hamsters to keep them in cages. I also won't get a house cat just to have someone to cuddle with all the time. And I definitely won't buy a dog, especially not a brachycephalic breed, to consider it my best friend.

Life upgrades:

  1. I don't have any unnecessary duplicates of items. This applies to identical charging cables and headphones as well as water bottles. I will also always avoid duplicates in household items, whether it's utensils like whisks, cooking spoons, or spatulas, or even larger appliances like toasters, kettles, or microwaves. Duplicate cleaning tools like brooms or vacuum cleaners. Extra clothing items like multiple rain jackets. Duplicate cosmetics or skincare products.
  2. I don't need an additional calculator. My phone already has a built-in calculator app. I also don't need the batteries in the calculator anymore and have disposed of them.
  3. I have discarded my old glasses that I no longer wear, as well as all glasses cleaning cloths and cases. I clean my current glasses with my T-shirt or my towel and simply leave them somewhere.
  4. I don't have any medications and avoid buying medications. Likewise, I don't own medical devices like blood pressure monitors or thermometers. In case of a fever, I notice it even without a thermometer. The fact that I don't have any medication gives me a feeling of health. And by not rushing to the pharmacy for every little thing, I not only save money but also avoid unnecessary packaging waste.
  5. I don't use sunscreen. SPF 15 already blocks 99% of vitamin D production. It's more important to me to get vitamin D. To protect against sunburn, I rely on natural methods. This includes drinking enough water, training the body's UV protection through tanning and a thicker skin layer, and staying in the shade when possible. If no shade is available, I use clothing for protection. By adopting this approach, I not only avoid plastic packaging but also avoid questionable chemicals in sunscreens.
  6. I don't own any physical mementos anymore. Instead, I have photographed important items and stored them on my laptop. This step poses a major challenge for many minimalists. It is a perfect example of how possessions take control of their owners, rather than the other way around.
  7. I don't use straws (not even reusable ones). This reduces the amount of dirty dishes slightly.
  8. I have only one large fabric bag that I use for shopping along with my spacious backpack, and a small fabric bag for buying unpackaged bread and rolls. I have minimized all other fabric bags.
  9. I have reduced the number of my Oxford shirts to exactly one – a white shirt for special occasions. I have chosen not to wear shirts daily because they look terrible when unironed and always need to be buttoned up. They are more time-consuming in everyday life and not as versatile as T-shirts.
  10. Reduced the number of my sweaters from 5 to 3. Reduced the number of T-shirts from 16 to 10. Reduced the number of everyday pants from 4 to 3. Reduced the number of sweatpants from 3 to 2. Reduced the number of shorts from 5 to 3 (including swim shorts). Reduced the number of sock pairs from 18 to 10. Reduced the number of underwear from 16 to 10. Reduced the number of pairs of sports shoes from 2 to 1. Reduced the number of winter hats from 2 to 1. Reduced the number of winter jackets from 2 to 1.
  11. I no longer own any winter scarves, as a buttoned winter jacket is sufficient for my needs.
  12. I have limited my clothes hangers to a fixed number of exactly 20 pieces. This number remains constant and cannot be increased, but it can be decreased. This measure helps me avoid unnecessary purchases of additional clothing items that need to be hung up. If I want to buy a new clothing item, I have to give away an existing piece. This helps me be more conscious and selective when buying new clothes while maintaining order in my wardrobe.
  13. My bed no longer has a bed frame, as I sleep just as well without one on the mattress and slatted frame. This makes moving easier, and I save money since I'll never have to buy a bed frame again.
  14. Since I no longer have to attend lectures and only rarely write by hand, I have sold my tablet. I no longer need a tablet since a laptop, phone, or PC fulfill all the functions a tablet offers. Selling the tablet has also earned me extra money. Additionally, I now have one less device to charge and maintain.
  15. I use only one monitor instead of two, as I can efficiently edit videos and perform all other PC tasks on a single monitor. This change helps me minimize distractions since I'm no longer tempted to do one task on one monitor while watching YouTube or doing other activities on the other. By reducing multitasking, I increase my productivity and achieve more than when using two monitors. Additionally, I save 30 euros annually on electricity costs, need one less socket and two fewer cables under the desk, and reduce eye strain.
  16. I don't own a television because I prefer to use my time wisely. This way, I avoid watching TV programs indiscriminately, especially depressing, negatively dominated news. Even worse is the effect of availability heuristics. By regularly watching reports of unlikely dangers, I misjudge the risks of life. The distorted perception of dangers leads to unfounded fears, stereotypes, and irrational behavior. By selling the TV, I not only further reduce my electricity costs but also gain more space in my room and have more time for more meaningful activities. Additionally, I even earned money by selling the TV and its stand. When it comes to movies, I prefer going to the cinema.
  17. To increase my efficiency when working on the PC, I have memorized or configured keyboard shortcuts for frequent actions. These include cutting films at specific points, switching between browser tabs or different application windows.