Around the third month of my zero waste journey I began to question what else I could do to reduce my waste that didn’t cost money. Looking around my house I tried finding items I could repurpose. While looking I felt more and more aware about the amount of “stuff ” we had. Things that I was holding onto because of sentimental reasons (I tend to do that a lot), things we only use a couple times a year and even things we haven’t used in many years.
It was in that moment that I really started to feel suffocated.
Then I did what any millennial does when they have issues – I got onto YouTube. I started the search for answers, advice and anything that could help me change my attachment issues I have to inanimate objects.
Eventually my search steered me towards minimalism
Now, before I go any further I have to mention that before that day I had always thought of minimalism as a movement where people live with the bare essentials, decorate their homes with harsh, modern furniture and have a couple tight, black T-shirts in their cupboards. Turns out… I was wrong.
While I’m sure there are people who follow that stereotypical lifestyle, I was incredibly surprised at how varied the minimalist lifestyle tends to be. The lines are blurred and I’m loving this grey area I discovered.
The more I read up on minimalism as a mindset, I began to see how this different approach could really work very well with my zero waste goals.
It dawned on me – minimalism and zero waste are very similar
Both movements support many of the same ideals – conscious shopping, repurposing, simplicity etc. It became an obvious choice to merge the two lifestyles in my own low waste lifestyle challenge.
With this new approach, I eagerly tried applying it to my life
Starting with my own personal items I made huge strides in not only reevaluating what I truly need in my life right now, but I’ve also realized how fortunate I am to have these possessions. Gratitude is something I feel like can be easily forgotten especially in the western world of consumerism. In no way am I where I would like to be, but at the same time it’s been an exciting mindset change to work towards.
Here are key factors I apply when making purchases:
- Only buy items that have two or more of these characteristics:
1. It brings value to your life.
2. It’s a quality piece that will last a long time
3. It has multiple purposes (preferably ones that will eliminate the need for another item in your house)
4. It’s reusable and will help cut down on single-use items (this is more for the Zero Waste goals, but it still applies)
- Evaluate the true reason for purchasing an item
- Ask yourself if there’s anything at home you could repurpose instead of buying new
- Check thrift stores or online second-hand marketplaces before buying new
- When shopping think carefully before making impulse buys. Consider if the item is something you just want, or you really need.
- Buy items that are more classic and won’t go out of style quickly.
Now I try to apply these key factors to our shopping habits, and I have noticed a big difference already in a short amount of time. I am a lot more aware of my our purchases and think far more carefully about the longevity, the quality, and the environmental impact an item brings along with it. I’ve also discovered that while there are many, many gadgets that promise to make life easier, more often than not – simplicity works best.
If you’re interested in some of the YouTube Channels that I discovered and learned a lot from, here they are: