Recent studies have demonstrated that clutter can have a deleterious effect on stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition. When we think of decluttering, we picture cleaner spaces and fewer things but what’s more, have you ever thought that minimalism can be the solution to climate change?
In her book “This Changes Everything”, Naomi Klein makes an important contribution to the discussion of strategy and tactics for climate action. She clearly thinks that the answer to climate change is to consume less.
We live in an economic system that fetishizes GDP growth above all else – regardless of the human or ecological consequences, while failing to place value on the things that most of us cherish above all: a decent standard of living, a measure of future security and the relationships with one another!Naomi Klein
Changing the earth’s climate in ways that would be chaotic and disastrous, is easier to accept, than the prospect of changing the fundamental growth based profit seaking logic of capitalism.
What can we do? What doesn’t require a technological and infrastructural revolution? to consume less – right away!
When I decided to reduce the amount of belongings in my home, there were things I stopped buying and things I did different than before. Minimalism is a mindset, therefore, it takes time to become a lifestyle. Nowadays, I do not need to talk myself out of buying stuff but if I feel I need to, I make the purchasing process long and difficult. For example, I keep a wish list of things I think I need/want on my phone but never purchase something immediately. I also try to find it second hand first. This delaying tactic actually helps me to clarify whether the item will actually make me happy or improve the quality of my life. After considering my options I can then make a truly mindful purchase .
Here are just a few of things I do not buy anymore since I started my journey to “less is more” quite a few years ago.
A streamlined selection of tools and gadgets is really enough to help you create tasty meals. I find that I use my limited collection of kitchen tools even more since I do not own any specialist items.
Homeware (with the exception of plants)
No decorative item comes into my home anymore unless it replaces something else since I decided that I do not need any more new things in my house. The less decorative items and cabinets there are, the less time we spend cleaning them, which free up time to do more fulfilling things. When I feel the need to give my space a spruce up, I rearrange and swap things around instead of buying new items. Also, if you are into DIY it is relatively easy to transform your decorative objects and give them a new lease of life.
Do we really need more Christmas and Halloween decorations or Summer tumblers, children’s activity sets and Easter bonnets? There are a lot of single use items on offer during the holiday season which actually add up to the 15 thousand tons of waste we damp each year in in the UK!
The same item of clothing in different colours
Many of us can relate with this issue. Purchasing the same style items but in different colours (trousers, blazers, tops, skirts etc) can seem like a good idea. Unfortunately, no matter how classic your clothes are, the style is what defines the outfit so think about how boring your wardrobe would become. Furthermore, not all styles give the same effect on us in different colours. Variety is the spice of life.
More than one pairs of shoes
Instead of trying to find the space to store your very many boots, buying one good quality pair means that you will wear it until it is ready for recycling. Most of us have one or two favourite and comfortable shoes which we wear most of the time anyway, (with the exception of a pair of shoes for exercising or special occasions maybe).
Special occasion outfits
Why buy when you can hire? There are many hiring websites these days that make the process very easy. Hiring means you spent less money, you have a new look every time and helps you minimize the production demand hence helping the environment too.
Magazines, books and greeting cards
Most magazines offer an online version which is a bliss for people who are mindful of what they bring in their homes. At some point I realised that I was buying magazines I was rarely reading. Moreover, by buying them I was contributing to climate change too. Think about how many millions of copies have to be created each week/month using forests to provide hard and soft wood fibers, lakes and rivers for the water. Not to mention the different chemicals used during the process, (200 individual chemicals are typically used, each satisfying a specific need in paper making). The distribution also adds up to the carbon emissions issue.
Audio and E- books, libraries and friends are a great source for finding books without the need to actually purchase the hard copy. Greeting cards again add a massive burden to the recycling facilities, increase the carbon emissions and deforestation.
Most of us already own a collection of good quality jewellery. I therefore, decided to make the most of what I already have, which is both good quality and versatile.
Promotional merchandise (freebies) are products branded with a logo or slogan and distributed at little or no cost to promote a brand, corporate identity, or event. Most of these are made cheaply, fall apart after a few uses or are completely single use items. I politely refuse to accept giveaways these days unless they are made out of recyclable, durable materials and I am certain that they will last. I also make an effort to let the companies know the reason why I am not happy to accept them with the hope that they will think about my suggestions when they plan their next event.
There are numerous times I have come out of airports juggling bags full of novelty items along with my luggage! What’s more we live in a global community where everything is available to purchase online and delivered to our door. Gone are the days when buying a specialty item from the other side of the world was truly unique. Furthermore, most of these items will end up in the landfill anyway adding to the plastic pollution burden. Nowadays, I focus on creating experiences and capture my family’s holiday memories digitally instead.
I think that there is a sense of freedom from not being shackled to shopping sites, stores and to the endless pursuit of acquiring things. Life has more meaning, we have more space to think and more time to dedicate in building relationships and creating experiences that will bring us value every day.
With a strategy of “less is more” as it pertains to material things, the ultimate goal of de-cluttering our space would be minimalism.
Are you planning to commit to a more minimalist lifestyle? What are your favourite tips on becoming a minimalist? Share in the comments below or get in touch with me on Social Media.
- Government statistical data
- “This Changes Everything” a book by Naomi Klein https://thischangeseverything.org