Inside: Learn various ways that sustainability and minimalism go hand in hand to help you live more simply while being more environmentally friendly.
A guest post by Cora Gold
For some people, working to develop a minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about owning fewer things. It’s also about trying to be more environmentally conscious and improving sustainability.
Living more simply can help you not only to enjoy the benefits of less but can also have the added benefit of decreasing your carbon footprint.
Creating new habits and being more mindful will save you money and create less waste.
Here are seven ways that sustainability and minimalism go hand in hand. Use these tips to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle that is also good for the planet.
Ways Sustainability and Minimalism Go Hand in Hand
Since Marie Kondo became a household name, people have sought to reduce their possessions to just the things that spark joy.
While the focus on decluttering and simplifying has been a good one, it can also lead to some unfortunate consequences. Following Tidying Up, many people got rid of lots of things at once. Donation centers were overwhelmed with stuff and quite a lot of items ended up in dumps.
Minimalism is not about just getting rid of stuff. It’s adopting a lifestyle that coincides with sustainability. The best thing you can do for the environment is to buy less and to make informed decisions that support sustainability going forward.
Here are seven ways sustainability and minimalism go hand in hand.
1. Your Clothing Purchases
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet and stumbled across an impulse buy with the tags still attached?
Once upon a time, retail therapy was all the rage. However, the reality of inflation and a general healthy disdain for pointless consumerism has led people to think twice before whipping out that credit card when they spy designer duds on sale.
Going minimalist with your clothing purchases helps the environment in several ways. Spending your hard-earned money more selectively means investing in higher-quality products that feature sustainable outfits from earth-friendly designers and hold up to years of wear.
It also gives you time to consider the origin of your purchase, allowing you to research whether your preferred brand comes from a sweatshop or properly compensated workers.
Selectively buying secondhand is another great way to combine minimalism and sustainability.
Simplifying your wardrobe
How can you get started minimizing your closet without filling the landfill with your old garments? Start by removing everything, down to the last sock. Sort everything into three piles: to keep, donate, or repurpose.
Be ruthless when decluttering your clothes. Pieces that are too tattered or stained to see new life in the donation bin can transform into cleaning rags – reducing your reliance on paper towels and further greening your footprint.
Then, resolve to donate or repurpose one old item each time you purchase something new. You’ll avoid cluttering your closet with unworn shirts and pants while finding a new home for your old belongings. Give them away with gratitude – you have more than you need.
2. Your Decor
Sustainability and minimalism also combine when you invest in new decor. Rather than outfitting your new pad in a rush by picking up inexpensive offerings from big-box retailers, you can investigate the origin of your bed or kitchen table and evaluate it for the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs occur in paints and lacquer, and inexpensive items might contain high levels from that shiny coating. Exposure can cause severe harm to your health; you’re wise to keep them out of your home. They also contribute to climate change.
Taking a minimalist approach to your decor goes hand in hand with sustainability by making you more selective in your purchases. The planet and your family’s health will thank you.
Consider simplifying holiday decor and buying secondhand when purchasing select decorations for your home.
3. Holidays and Events
Holidays can be stressful, especially if you’re on a budget. You might feel the pressure to shower your family with gifts on their birthdays or holidays, but that can be both financially difficult and wasteful.
Think about how many gifts you’ve gotten that have ended up lost in the attic or thrown away. Doing away with gifts or finding clutter-free alternatives can save you and your family from creating clutter and excess waste during the holidays.
If you’re hosting a party, think about how many trash bags you might need to take out at the end of the night. Choosing reusable party supplies will save you money and produce less waste – a win-win situation.
Even large events, like weddings, can be more sustainable by taking a minimal approach – reducing the number of people you invite, sending out digital invitations and using biodegradable decorations.
Rather than holding extravagant events or going overboard on holidays, focus on what’s really important – family, friends, life milestones – and cut out unnecessary expenses and wasteful practices.
4. Planning Your Meals
Food waste contributes to climate change by adding to landfill fodder. Fortunately, you can reduce how much you toss by planning your meals.
Marry sustainability and minimalism by purchasing only what you need and preparing or storing it correctly soon after returning home. Doing so helps you on those nights when you’re too tired to cook – it’s not a problem with a refrigerator stocked with healthy food you prepped on the weekend.
Minimalism also means considering how much of certain foods you genuinely need. For example, you don’t have to espouse a vegan lifestyle, but cutting down on the amount of meat you consume benefits the environment. Beef and pork production account for nearly 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Selecting Transportation
Some people think bigger is better when it comes to transportation. However, fewer folks sing that tune when gas prices go through the roof. Furthermore, larger vehicles create more emissions. Do you need a Hummer for one person?
Sustainability and minimalism don’t only unite at the dealership. They go hand in hand when planning your trips.
Who doesn’t know the frustration of running to the store and forgetting something, only to make a second trip? Sticking to a list of only the items you need keeps you from getting distracted by impulse purchases and creating more emissions on a return trip.
Consider creative ways to reduce driving and save on gas such as carpooling or simply limiting unnecessary trips.
6. Managing Professional Responsibilities
Can sustainability and minimalist principles affect your career choices? Absolutely. For example, scores of people delighted in the opportunity to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their forced change in circumstances was a bonanza for the environment, with emissions dropping sharply.
Unfortunately, return-to-the-office edicts have raised pollution levels again – but there is hope. Many people prefer to remain telecommuting, at least partially, meaning fewer cars on the road producing emissions.
Even smaller professional choices make a decided difference. For example, you might choose to minimize those mountains of paper clutter by shifting to a paperless system. Your choice keeps your office tidier while sparing trees.
7. When You Travel
You’ve heard the saying, “Take only photographs; leave only footprints.” Taking a minimalist approach to travel pays dividends in sustainability by reducing your impact on the earth.
For example, you might decide not to purchase a single souvenir, opting instead to write in your journal and take endless photographs, printing only your favorites.
If you do yield to the temptation to shop, you’ll select one item made by a local artisan instead of a trinket manufactured overseas and producing countless emissions to get to the shop.
You’ll savor the region’s flavor when you dine at farm-to-table establishments instead of chains that ship their food long distances.
How Sustainability and Minimalism Go Hand in Hand
Minimalism is more than a decorating concept; it’s a lifestyle choice. Fortunately, adopting these principles pays dividends in sustainability. Minimalism is not only good for your own life. It can make a positive impact on the environment as well.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist magazine. She loves writing about family and living life to the fullest. Follow Cora on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
How do you combine sustainability and minimalism in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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