Is Minimalism Beneficial For The Environment?

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There’s a new trend in town, and its name is minimalism.

Proponents of minimalism say that by getting rid of excess belongings and living with less, you can simplify your life and live more peacefully.

But could there be another benefit to minimalism? Is minimalism beneficial for the environment? 

Are you considering a minimalist lifestyle but worrying about its environmental impact? You’re not alone. I’ve had to up my minimalism game recently to keep up with Mrs. M!

She’s always been a less-is-more kinda gal. Whereas I love to bulk buy and hoard old packaging, etc. You know…just in case!

In this article, I’ll share all I’ve learned and look at the benefits and drawbacks of minimalism from a personal and eco-friendly perspective.

Is living minimally really more sustainable in the modern world? Read on to find out!

All You Need To Know About Minimalism

minimalist room

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, art, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.”

People often think of decluttering guru Marie Kondo when it comes to lifestyle minimalism.

Her famous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has helped people worldwide get rid of their belongings and live with less.

But minimalism is about more than just getting rid of stuff. It’s a way of thinking and living that can lead to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

At its core, minimalism is about living with intention and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

By decluttering your life and removing extra belongings, you can simplify and focus on what’s really important to you.

Some people take minimalism to the extreme by living out of a backpack or van. But you don’t have to go to these extremes to reap the benefits of minimalism.

You can start small by decluttering your home and removing anything that doesn’t bring you joy. From there, you can begin to live more intentionally and focus on what’s important to you.

The Benefits Of Minimalism

Minimalism has many benefits, both for individuals and the environment.

Individual Benefits

  • More Fulfilling Life: By decluttering your life and owning less stuff, you can focus on what’s important to you.
  • Improved Mental Health: Minimalism can lead to improved mental health. Mrs. M swears that by owning fewer possessions, she has less anxiety and is better able to cope with stressful situations.
  • Improved Physical Health: Less reliance on consumer products might give you the time and motivation to get outside in nature to get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Better Sleep: A cluttered and disorganized space can disrupt your sleep.
  • Save Money: When you live minimally, you naturally spend less money. You’re less likely to impulse buy, and you don’t have to waste money on storage fees for all of your stuff.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduced Waste:  Minimalism often leads to reduced waste. When you declutter your life (by donating or recycling responsibly), less stuff ends up in landfill. Buying less (moving away from fast fashion buying habits, for example) also reduces the strain on U.S. landfill sites.
  • Promotes A Circular Economy: A circular economy is an economic system in which resources are used and reused instead of discarded. By donating your unwanted clutter to needy people and worthy causes, you’re reducing the amount of new stuff they need to buy.
  • Preservation Of Natural Resources: By living with less clutter, you’re helping to preserve the earth’s resources. According to Credit Suisse, “60% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of freshwater usage originate from consumer products.” So by consuming less, you’re positively impacting the environment. By using natural resources sparingly today, we can help ensure there will be enough resources for future generations.
  • Lower Carbon Footprint: Minimalism can also lead to a lower carbon footprint. You’re less likely to need a car or a storage unit when you own fewer belongings. This means you’ll produce fewer emissions, less air pollution, and have a smaller environmental impact.
  • Reduced Noise Pollution: Noise pollution is also reduced if you drive less. Maybe it’s time to ditch the SUV for an electric cargo bike?
  • Consumable Consciousness: Minimalism often raises awareness of what we consume. When you start living with less, you naturally become more conscious of your consumption habits and their impact on the environment.
  • Quality Over Quantity: When you start living minimally, you naturally gravitate towards higher quality items that will last longer. This leads to less waste in the long run and a smaller environmental impact.
  • More Free Time: When you declutter your life and get rid of needless belongings, you’ll find what you’re looking for much quicker. Giving you more time to do the things you love or even learn a new skill.
  • Tiny Houses = Less Energy: Smaller homes use less energy Minimalism helps you downsize to a tiny house because you don’t need much space if you don’t have much stuff. Maybe even consider a shipping container home?
  • Ditch The Tech: Minimalism has the potential to reduce our reliance on technology. So maybe it’s time to break away from that constant need for the latest phone or tablet and opt for a more basic model instead. This might help the world start to get on top of its e-waste problem.

Potential Drawbacks Of Minimalism

Despite the numerous individual and environmental benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks you should be aware of before you make the switch to a minimalist lifestyle:

  • You Might Have A Hard Time Letting Go Of Things: For some people, it can be hard to let go of things, even if they don’t bring them joy. If you find it hard to declutter your life, minimalism might not be for you.
  • You Might Feel Isolated: When you live minimally, you naturally have fewer possessions. This can initially lead to feelings of isolation for some, especially if you’re used to having a lot of stuff.
  • It Can Be Hard To Stick To: Minimalism can be hard to stick to in our society that values material possessions. If you find it hard to let go of things, you might struggle with minimalism.

Being An Eco-Friendly Minimalist

Eco-friendly living focuses on reducing your impact on the environment through sustainable actions and choices, while minimalist living is more about reducing clutter and living with less.

However, the two often go hand in hand as they both strive towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

When you combine the two, you get something many refer to as eco-minimalism.

Some ideas to help you start your eco-minimalism journey include:

  • Own your identity/style, and don’t stress over labels and trends peddled by the textile industry.
  • Set yourself a ‘buy nothing’ challenge where you spend nothing on new items for a set period. Food and essential items are excluded from the challenge.
  • If you do have to buy something, interrogate the retailer. Ask things like how it was made, where it was made, what packaging has been used, and how long it’s expected to last.
  • Use local services to repair rather than replace.
  • Use your spare time to volunteer in your local community. My daughters and I help pick up litter from parks and beaches every few months. My dad volunteers monthly at an eco-friendly repair shop, assisting local residents in mending and reusing broken products and appliances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Minimalism Only About Getting Rid Of Stuff?

While decluttering and getting rid of things is a significant aspect of minimalism, it’s also about living with intention and only keeping things that bring value or joy to your life.

It’s about simplifying your life, not just getting rid of stuff and owning fewer items.

Can Minimalism Help With Mental Health?

Many minimalist advocates have reported improved mental health, as decluttering and living with less can help reduce stress and improve focus.

However, it’s important to note that minimalism may not be the right fit for everyone and could potentially worsen mental health issues such as hoarding disorder. Consult a therapist or healthcare professional before making drastic changes to your lifestyle.

The Final Word

Minimalism has a lot of potential benefits for the environment.

By reducing consumption, you’re helping to preserve resources, combat climate change, lower your carbon footprint, and reduce noise pollution.

You might even find that you have more free time to learn new skills or do the things you love.

However, you should be aware of a few potential drawbacks to minimalism.

If you can overcome these challenges, minimalism is a great way to start the journey to a more sustainable future.

The average U.S. home contains 300,000 items, so surely there is something you can donate or recycle?

If you want to dip your toe into the minimalism water, you don’t need to get rid of everything on day one.

Start small, see where it takes you, and enjoy the process!

Get In Touch

Do you live a minimalist lifestyle? Are you a hardcore sustainable minimalist? Do you like the idea but are too scared to start? Do you have any tips or tricks to help newbies live a more minimalist lifestyle? Drop me a line and let me know.

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James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.
James Miller
James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.

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