How Adopting a Minimalist Mindset Can Help the Environment

People are often scared off by the term ‘minimalist’, but you don’t need to sell everything you own to adopt a minimalist mindset. It’s more a matter of adjusting the way you think about everything. From grocery shopping and celebrating big events to buying clothes and getting around, the choices we make determine the weight of our ‘footprint’. We can live comfortably and be mindful, it’s not an either or.

Because minimalists tend to choose experiences over stuff, we can learn a lot from their spending habits. They shop more cautiously and 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 these guys operate.

This mindset can encourage us all to think twice about our day-to-day decision-making.

Celebrating Big Events

celebrating big eventsPhoto Credit: Cayton Heath via Unsplash

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 often 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 afterwards. 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.

Change Your Mode of Transport

two people riding bicyclesPhoto Credit: David Marcu via Unsplash

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 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.

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.

Say (Hell) No to Fast Fashion

good quality shoesPhoto Credit: Terje Sollie via Pexels

Since it’s not acceptable to walk around naked, wearing clothes isn’t optional. However, it’s where we choose to buy those clothes that can make all the difference. Did you know that after oil, fashion is the world’s most polluting industry?

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 and the documentary, The True Cost, has done a stellar job of bringing to light the severe impact that 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 pocket book. 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 dosh 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 just making a quick buck. 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 is certainly 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.

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.

Photo Credit: Baurzhan Kadylzhanov

70 comments

Melania P
Melania Pabout a month ago

Of course, it can; sum up actions by the millions and you will get results. Sharing as well.

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Janine F
Janine F2 months ago

thanks

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Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jacqueline Lockyer-Barret

Thank you! Great article!

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heather g
heather g4 months ago

I spent the weekend at a friend's home. It's in an older suburb with smaller homes.
What really struck me was how many people had three cars - often one or two noisy diesel trucks. I have no idea why BC people like the noise and air pollution their noisy trucks cause

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Alexis M
Alexis Miller4 months ago

Good read!

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Lorraine A
Lorraine Andersen4 months ago

Quality and not quantity for sure. All good advice. We could all cut down on our consumerism for sure.

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago

Thanks.

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Daniela M
Daniela M4 months ago

Yes, experiences over stuff! It's a wonderful concept and practice! :)

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z4 months ago

Yes, aparigraha and asteya, as taught in Yogic philosophy. Thanks for sharing.

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