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Can Minimalism Really Help The Environment?

Minimalism is the concept that less is more. This can mean different things so let’s get into it.

Many people quickly dismiss the idea of minimalism because they think it’s a life of restriction where you are not allowed to buy anything or travel or do anything you love. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Minimalism helps you claim that freedom you’ve always looked for.

It’s also a way to do your part for the environment. In an ideal world, everyone would be a minimalist. This is probably not going to happen but it’s good to know that more and more are adopting this lifestyle.

Minimalism is a way to clear your physical space but also your mental space. You are removing anything that doesn’t hold value in your life in order to make time and space for what you really love. Many minimalists will tell you how freeing it is to live like this.

Why does minimalism help the environment?

01. Protect the planet’s resources

It protects the earth’s resources because everything you own needs to be made from natural resources. Whether it’s plastic, wood, metal, or paper, it needs to come from somewhere. You do not need to own 10 of the same things. You also realize that things are just things.

Of course, if there’s something you really want, that is going to bring you happiness and value to your life then you should probably buy it. Minimalism should not stop you from doing and buying things you love. But for example, if you want to buy a new coat but you already have 4, there’s no point buying another one.

Besides, it takes a lot of energy, hard work, and resources to manufacture a single piece of clothing. So whatever you have make sure you use it as much as possible before throwing it in the bin.

Related: What is Minimalism: Benefits and Misconceptions

02. Produce less waste

This is common sense. If you buy fewer things, you will have fewer things to throw away. Waste is a huge problem. We are running out of space where to put our rubbish, many of which end up in the oceans. Think about how much waste you will reducing in a year or two if you stop this consumerist lifestyle.

03. Lowers your carbon footprint

This is done in different ways. Firstly, manufacturing products have a large carbon footprint so if you are buying less, you effectively reduce your carbon footprint too.

Another way, as mentioned just now, is by reducing your waste. Just because you throw something away it doesn’t mean that its life cycle is over. It still needs to be transported to landfills or centers to be recycled. Waste also produces methane. Greenhouse gases are hidden everywhere. That’s the problem.

Also, families who have more than 1 car, often get rid of the extra ones when they change to a minimalist lifestyle. They might get bikes instead to travel around. This again lowers their carbon footprint by a huge amount.

04. Smaller homes

Society tells us having a big house, makes you look better and more successful. However, buying a large house is usually a liability, takes away your freedom since you have to work more to pay for it, and lastly, and most importantly they have a much bigger carbon footprint than small houses. You will also waste less electricity, water, and other resources.

Okay, you don’t have to live in a tiny flat all your life, but you also don’t need to live in a mansion just because you have the money to buy one.

05. Makes you more conscious of your decisions

After you start shifting your mindset, your perspective on life will change. You will also start making decisions more smartly. You will start thinking if you really need to buy that new car, or piece of clothing and will start questioning if the benefits outweigh the impact on the environment and on your freedom.

06. Stops the toxic consumerist lifestyle

You stop following current trends and instead you focus on living simply.

The truth is you and I don’t use most things in our houses. Yet, we keep buying things foolishly thinking we will use them someday. This is the toxic society we live in. Buying new items and wearing the current trends is what makes people feel more relevant and more popular.

Consumerism is what is destroying the planet. It’s the reason so much electricity and water are needed, the reason there is so much pollution and also what is causing climate change. Our lives are too comfortable because people have come up with ideas and products on how to simplify our lives.

This has had consequences no one could have imagined. When you stop constantly buying new things to fill society’s expectations you also help the environment is a big way.

The fact that you are reading this article right now means that you are close to abandoning that lifestyle and leaving society’s expectations.

Getting started

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry.

Just one thing to keep in mind. Don’t just throw everything away. If you can, donate what you don’t want because someone else could put them into good use.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t switch to a lifestyle of minimalism overnight. As with every lifestyle change, it will take some time to get used to it and adapt.

The way someone approaches this lifestyle is personal. Different people take it to mean different things. There’s no right or wrong answer but here are some things you could do to get you started.

The most obvious way to do this is by decluttering your home. I will tell you for a fact you will end up with piles of stuff and will wonder where it all came from. That’s what happened to me anyways

Quick tips:

  • Sorting out your wardrobe is one of the first things you could do. We, including me, often buy new clothes even though we have plenty of clothes to wear. I stopped during this for a long time now and only buy something if I need it. Everything that you haven’t worn in a long time, put in a bag, and donate. If you haven’t worn it in the past year you will not miss it.
  • Old textbooks/ books/ notebooks that you no longer use or need. We have a knack for collecting useless stuff for no apparent reason. Getting rid of these will free a lot of space.
  • Useless house décor that has no real function. All of us have stuff on our shelves for decoration but if it adds no value to your life, why keep it?
  • Beauty products. Some of us have way too many beauty products. But in this case, don’t throw them away because that’s just wasting them. Use them up but this time don’t go buying new products every month. Only have what is necessary. Some people even go and make their own beauty products, using natural ingredients, to reduce their waste even more.
  • The ‘what ifs‘ and ‘just in case‘ – In most cases, you will not need these items. Even if you do you can just borrow one from a friend. Things are just things. Try not getting too attached to everything.

These are just to get you started. Take your time and look around and see what you don’t need. Be hard on yourself, otherwise you won’t get rid of anything. When you get into it it becomes a lot easier.

Remember you are doing this for you and the environment.

Conclusion

Are you still debating whether or not to live like this? Well I would strongly recommend it.

I find it very freeing. Minimalism doesn’t mean throwing away and donating all your possessions. That’s unrealistic. Minimalism means only have the things you need and love and that why you look after what you have better.

Think about it like this. If you have 10 pens, you would probably, lose half of them in a week because you keep leaving them somewhere. On the other hand, if you had 1, you would not lose it because it’s the only one you have.

You will start wasting less time on useless things and start spending more time on what is truly important.

The world needs more minimalists in this consumerist society. Our way of living is extremely unsustainable. So if you don’t want to do it for you, do it for the planet.

Author

  • I've always cared about the planet but never knew how I could use my skills to create an impact. But that's when I decided to start Terra Movement. To get other creatives involved in the climate movement and inspire more people to help the planet and its people.

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