Why is minimalism an effort towards helping the environment? Less consumption and wise consumption helps save resources and in turn save the planet.
Being a minimalist might be a choice, but being an environmentally responsible individual is not. If you inherently are an environmentally responsible person, then it’s great. But if you aren’t, it’s still an obligation. It’s part of the contract you have with nature and it works both ways. You’ve been blown into life by nature, so even if you don’t really blow life into nature, it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t blow life out of it.
Being a minimalist, you might be a tad closer to save the planet, because you take in less and discard less.
Chances are, you already know what I’m going to suggest to you. These are small but responsible modifications in your lifestyle. I won’t say that these efforts are enough to combat climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation etc. No, these little things won’t save the planet by themselves. But they will help. With these little steps, you don’t need to be a crowd rallying Greta Thunberg to be an earth saving hero.
This is basic minimalism. Make every purchase for a reason where it is absolutely needed. Nothing you buy goes to waste or rots in a corner without being put to use. You won’t be making purchases just because you come across something that catches your eye and you want to make it yours.
Assess the environmental impact of everything you consume or purchase
In other words, purchase wise. When you do buy something, inquire into the environmental standing of the store you’re visiting, the environmental impact and footprint of the items you’re purchasing, the eco-friendliness of the supply chain, logistics, manufacturing or harvesting process, etc. Also consider what impact the items would exert on the environment once its’ purpose is served or lifetime is exhausted. Look into the entire life cycle of what you consume, and assess the environmental impact of every step involved. Go for the least impact.
Every item that can be reused, and is safe to do so, must be reused. This is quite useful when being minimal, since you will find multiple uses in a single item. Be sure you don’t throw away anything without letting it serve its full potential purpose. This step will come handy if you were careful in step one to buy reusable items as much as possible.
This is where you transform anything that has already served its purpose into something new. Any item that’s broken down or too worn out to continue to serve its original purpose and waste or by-products generated can be up-cycled into something useful. Make use of the hidden creativity inside you to give these items new purpose by creating something new.
Families can collectively use shareable items, so one family can be content with one item. Some other things can be shared among neighbors, friends and relatives. You can in fact build communities that share items. So, the people you share with are trustworthy and everyone is comfortable with sharing their items. It will be interesting to become a community with a common objective where everyone wants to dial down their consumerism.
When it’s time to let go of items in your possession, consider donating instead of stuffing everything into the garbage trucks. Of course, the items up for donation should be of decent quality. Check in your neighborhood for places accepting donations or look into places or people truly in need. With a few contacts made on where to donate, you can get rid of your things easily when you declutter or move places.
If you were careful in step one to buy recyclable items whenever possible, you’ve got work here in the recycling section. You can collect everything with the recycling sign into separate bins based on the type of material and send them to the closest recycling center. Just keep in mind that the material must be homogeneous if it’s to be recycled. That means, you should take care not to let the materials get contaminated with other matter.
Impact and press others
It’s not enough to do these little things to your level best by yourself. If you have any problem following any of the above steps smoothly, press the relevant bodies to give you more sustainable options. Press your grocer, supermarket and local authorities until you’re their worst nightmare and they have no choice but to find solutions. Set an example to your family, friends and colleagues by making sustainable decisions through your minimalist lifestyle.
Lavanya Witharana, co-founder of Discovering Minimalism is currently following her postgraduate studies in environmental science as she desires to share her unconditional love for the environment with like-minded enthusiasts from all around the world.