The new year is a great time to embrace minimalism & create more sustainable habits in your life! Here are a few ideas…
Minimalism is a somewhat sticky concept that has been gaining popularity in the Western world in recent years. In essence, minimalism seems simple: it refers to reducing consumption and getting “back to the basics” in your life – cutting out non-essential spending and reducing your use of material goods and resources.
However, when you think about it, minimalism is how most humans lived for centuries out of pure necessity, and being able to make the choice to live a “minimalist” lifestyle automatically means you probably have more than you need already.
That said, this doesn’t mean that embracing minimalism in your life is not a worthwhile endeavor. By reducing what you buy, consume, and throw away, you will also reduce energy usage, lower your carbon footprint, and waste fewer resources – all of which are noble goals as the population continues to increase on our finite planet.
Of course, as with most lifestyle choices, there are degrees to which you may choose to adopt a minimalist approach. You can choose to cut back on a few things (such as disposable items), or go all-out and strip down to the essentials – a more challenging but also more impactful choice.
Here are a few different ideas for embracing minimalism in your life. You can pick and choose items from this list to incorporate into your own lifestyle so that they become sustainable habits in the years ahead:
- Buy less. You can reduce your spending and accommodations for material possessions. Whenever you’re tempted by a new purchase, whether it’s a new outfit, the latest device, or a new piece of furniture, ask yourself: Do I really need this? Is what I have still functional? Extending the usefulness of the items you already have is a form of minimalism, but buying new items encourages further production, energy expenditure, and use of natural resources. And the disposal of older goods often contributes to waste. Recycling is better than throwing out old items, but using what you already have is even better than recycling.
- Use fewer disposables. You can also reduce what you consume in how you shop. As an easy example, use a reusable tote bag instead of getting paper or plastic bags every time you run to the store. You can reduce consumption of more than 300 bags, per person, each year with this simple approach. You can also choose products with less packaging, and opt for products with recyclable packaging when possible.
- Invest in clean energy. Invest in solar panels so you’re can create your own clean energy. If you’re connected to the grid, it’s likely you rely on power plants, which often burn coal and produce excessive amounts of pollution.
- Shop locally. If you currently get your groceries at a supermarket, shop at a local farmer’s market instead whenever you can. Be sure to make a list so that you purchase only what you need, to avoid food waste. Supermarket food products are often shipped long distances, resulting in more carbon emissions, and they may come from unsustainable factory farms.
- Grow your own food. Think carefully about the food you consume and how you consume it. The most environmentally conscious consumers in this tier of minimalism attempt to grow their own food, capitalizing on a garden to provide most of their nutritional needs and selling whatever excess food is left over at a local market. Growing your own food requires far less energy than relying on supply chains and driving to markets; you can also guarantee you’re using sustainable farming methods.