Minimalism and the Environment
The bubble effect of the internet means we’ve ran into minimalism approximately a thousand times. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe people who wanna go green are also interested in improving other parts of their lifestyle. Maybe the aesthetics just go together well. Whatever it is, they pop up in the same areas. There must be a reason, right?
In this article I will dive into minimalism and why it seems to pop up so often.
What is minimalism?
The definition of minimalism depends on who you ask, but generally speaking it is considered the movement of deliberately choosing to have less. This applies to one or many aspects of one’s life: interior, UI, food, media and even apps on your phone. The minimalist ‘style’ was already on the rise in the 1950’s, but it has recently boomed as an entire lifestyle on its own.
Why become a minimalist?
The reason to become one obviously differs per person but generally speaking it is to simplify your life. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with new stuff to buy and watch and listen to and change, it makes sense that an anti-movement is so popular. People don’t want to worry about 100 things at once. By eliminating 90 things you have much more time to focus on those 10 remaining items or tasks.
Are we minimalists?
We do not call ourselves minimalists. We simply (no pun intended) like to collect too much stuff. However, we do very much like the lifestyle and have adopted many elements from it over the past 2 years or so. It has very much improved our lives for sure! As an example, when we moved house last May, we got rid of more than half of our things and moving in was an absolute breeze because of it.
Another big improvement for me personally has been on mental health. As a person with anxiety I find myself constantly overwhelmed with thoughts, and I find it much easier to stay calm and focused when I don’t have a million things to clean, sort, hear, look at and who knows what else. Not only that; by buying less things I can spend much more money on high-quality items that I will truly cherish, rather than buying a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t really have the time or willingness to take care of and love. Having less stuff leads to having less things to clean and keep organised, which saves time and makes it super easy to keep an organised and relaxing space. It really does simplify your life, that’s for sure.
If you’re interested in becoming (more) minimalist, here’s 45 Benefits of Becoming a Minimalist by minimalism made simple.
How it impacts the environment
So back to the question at hand: how does minimalism relate to the environment?
There’s a whole bunch of reasons why these seem to go hand-in-hand. The main reasons being that it involves buying less things, which has a range of environmental benefits:
- Less production
The most obvious one: less products being made means less resources and energy used.
- Less shipping
Buying less items also means shipping will be reduced. Since a lot of our stuff comes from overseas, it will reduce the amount of planes and boats that have to go all the way over here (sometimes for products that are gonna fall apart anyway). This will in turn, of course, release less emissions into the air.
- Quality over quantity
When you buy less things, you have more money to spend on each individual item. This means that, rather than buying more things, you can buy higher quality things. These will last much longer, which in turn means less resources are being wasted and less CO2 is released into the air by burning said waste.
- Less plastic
Building on the previous point, often non-plastic alternatives are more expensive (aluminium being a common ‘luxury’ version). These alternative materials are often much more durable and recyclable than plastics. On top of that, the reason plastic tends to last less long is because it starts to literally fall apart; something that can cause small particles of plastic (also known as microplastics) to be released into the environment.
- Less fast fashion
Fast fashion is terrible for the environment. Cheap, unethically made clothes made from polymers (ergo. plastic) are bought non-stop. The clothing industry is always trying to get consumers to buy into the next new fad. We can’t wear this many clothes, no one can. The result is that cheap garments tend to either break or go out of style, sometimes within months, only to be thrown out. Not only that, polyester clothes are actually shown to slowly degrade and release microplastics into the ocean when you wash them.
By buying well-made clothes, you could be wearing them for years (or sell them second-hand).
All these points have some overlap with other fields. A simpler lifestyle comes with less of everything; and less consumption of pretty much everything is good for the environment. And if you’re already interested in simplifying your life, helping the environment is a great bonus.
We find that the less you buy and use, the less you’ll want to buy and use. It takes a while (sometimes years) to adapt to it, and it can be difficult and emotionally challenging sometimes. But, if you take it in small steps you might end up much, much happier with the things you do have!