Adopting a minimalist mindset encourages you to think differently.
When you’re less focused on acquiring stuff, you have room to think about your impact on the planet.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to sell everything you own to adopt a minimalist mindset.
It’s more a matter of adjusting your perspective. From grocery shopping and celebrating big events to buying clothes, greening your commute and going paperless, there are plenty of ways you can live more sustainably.
The choices you make determine the size of your carbon footprint. That said, it’s not an either/or. You can live comfortably and be mindful.
Because minimalists tend to choose experiences over stuff, there’s a lot to be learnt from our spending habits. We tend to shop more cautiously and (almost) always have a clear purpose in mind before setting foot inside the store.
Wandering the aisles with an empty shopping cart and randomly pulling stuff off the shelves is not how we operate. Stuff needs to have a clear purpose. If it doesn’t, we don’t buy it.
Adopting a minimalist mindset will encourage you all to think twice about your day-to-day decision-making. And yes, it may lead to you loitering in daisy fields. That’s fine, just go with it.
4 Ways a Minimalist Mindset Helps the Environment
1. Celebrate Mindfully
How many times have you been to a birthday party where there’ve been balloons everywhere? Maybe you’ve attended a wedding where a bunch of white balloons was released in honor of the happy couple?
We all have, right? These brightly colored, helium-filled balls add a festive mood to any gathering. But did you ever stop to consider where they end up once the party is over and the guests have all gone home? The environmental impact of balloons is far reaching, with animals invariably paying the price for our fun.
Fireworks are another favorite when it comes to marking events. But while it may be fun to watch them going off, the after effects are anything but. Filled with tiny metal particles, air pollution from fireworks lingers for hours after you’ve gone home.
There’s also the issue of pets, who are often traumatized by the loud noise. While silent fireworks are an option, a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative is to not to indulge in the activity in the first place.
Put the money you would have spent on balloons and fireworks toward something else instead. If it’s a kid’s party you could hire a clown, if it’s a wedding you could put it towards your honeymoon fund. At the end of the day, the guests are going to remember the experience as a whole. Nobody will miss the fireworks or balloons.
2. Green Your Commute
Minimalists are all about saving money so they can do more fun stuff. They’d much rather inconvenience themselves a little in the short-term if it means they can travel more in the longer term.
Car pollution is one of the major causes of global warming. If you’re a two car family it’s time to talk turkey with one another. Is having two vehicles a must or a nice-to-have? Could you find a way to make it work with just one car?
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city with a decent public transport system, perhaps you could get by with not owning a car at all. You could get a bicycle, enjoy the benefits of walking more and then carpool, bus or Uber the rest of the time.
We sold our car about six years ago and we honestly haven’t missed it. We get around using a combination of the methods mentioned above and when we want to go away for a weekend we just hire a car. It’s saved us a bunch of money, time and gray hair.
Don’t automatically upgrade your vehicle when you get a pay raise, either. While science may have proven that buying things can sometimes lead to happiness, it can just as easily lead to buyer’s remorse. Cars come at a cost to your wallet as well as the environment, so put the gas money towards that trip to Bali instead.
3. Go Paperless
It’s 2019, you’d think by now we’d have stopped chopping down trees so we can read books and look (with horror) at our credit card statements and utility bills. You don’t have to buy into that old school way of thinking.
When you have a minimalist mindset you immediately cast about for greener alternatives, thumbing your nose at the status quo (which has more than likely been printed out in triplicate and filed in a dusty office somewhere).
• Take Your Snail Mail Online
Let’s start with the easy stuff. Get in touch with everyone who posts you stuff and have them email you instead. Some people, businesses in particular, do need to have physical mail delivered. A service like US postal mailboxes is the perfect workaround for this, as it also gives you the option to attend to your mail online.
For most of us though, ditching paper mail completely is perfectly doable. Put a sign on your mailbox that says Closed for Business and pat yourself on the back for doing your bit to save the trees.
• Get a Kindle Already
Avid readers almost always balk at the idea of reading on a Kindle. They say they want the experience of holding an actual book in their hands. To which I respond, “What’s more important, the book’s contents or the book itself?”
The story is what counts, the vehicle it arrives in doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. You’re not going to enjoy reading [insert your favourite author here] more in book form than on a Kindle.
Besides, reading on a Kindle frees up your snack/drinks hand. I mean, c’mon, it’s not reading if you don’t have a bag of tasty treats at hand. Am I right or am I right?
Ask Sporty, she’ll tell you I’m right.
Buying a Kindle doesn’t have to be a super expensive outlay, either. Sure, you could choose one that’s fancy schmancy, but an entry-level Kindle is really all you need to read on.
It also opens you up to way more books and authors. With online publishing being as easy as it is, everyone can be a writer these days. Yes, you’ll kiss a lot of literary frogs, but you’ll also be privy to smorgasbord of good stuff. Stuff you’d never find at your local bookshop.
4. Say (Hell) No to Fast Fashion
Since it’s not acceptable to walk around naked, buying clothes isn’t optional. It’s where we choose to buy those clothes that can make all the difference. Did you know that fashion is the second most polluting industry globally?
The main reason for this is that in the past we’d have a maximum of four fashion seasons annually. Thanks to Zara, the Spanish fast fashion behemoth, we now have 50-100 micro seasons a year. Another key factor is that Azo dyes, despite their known toxicity, are still the most used synthetic dyes in the industry.
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
Greenpeace’s Detox program has already inspired 10 percent of the world’s biggest fashion brands to phase out toxic substances.
Eco-Age’s Green Carpet Challenge is putting sustainable style into the spotlight at the world’s most high profile events.
The documentary The True Cost has done a stellar job of bringing to light the severe impact the industry has had on the environment as well as the people making the clothes.
Okay, so the big guys are doing their bit, but what can the average consumer do to help turn the tide? It’s pretty simple really, we vote with our wallet. How and where we choose to spend our money makes a difference.
Helpfully, the guys that made The True Cost put together 5 tips to help you shop smarter. Simply by adopting a slower fashion cycle and choosing to spend your money with producer centric brands that support fair trade, you’ll be making a world of difference.
People Tree and Patagonia are two excellent examples of brands that are focused on more than their bottom line. And there are many more like them, too. Another option is to shop at thrift stores, which I get isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worth considering.
Bargains abound, I’m just saying.
Looking good is great, but not when it’s at the expense of the environment or the people and animals we share it with. Minimalists would rather have a capsule wardrobe of quality items than a cupboard full of fast fashion that’s going to fall apart after a few washes.
Some Bonus Benefits
The thing about adopting a minimalist mindset is that it benefits so much more than just the environment. Your bank account will end up in better shape and you’ll also be happier knowing that you’re spending your money on stuff that matters.
These are just some examples, but opportunities to shift your mindset are everywhere. The next time you pull out your wallet to pay for something, stop and ask yourself whether the purchase will have a positive or negative impact on the environment.