Eco-minimalism takes the practice and sentiment behind minimalism and combines it with an environmentally-friendly mindset. Rather than simply focusing on having the minimum amount of stuff and decluttering, the eco-minimalist puts more emphasis on responsible decluttering and ways to live more sustainably.
An eco-minimalist has an environmentalist mindset and uses minimalism as a tool to reduce environmental impact. Rather than consumerism, the focus is on sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint.
We live in a society not catered towards living a zero-waste life, it actually caters to the opposite. It’s much much easier to choose single-use disposable items, especially when those items come at no cost to us, or at least that we are aware of. Because of this, going zero waste requires energy…especially upfront. And we only have so much energy in a day. ~ LastObject
Low wasters live more sustainably by consuming less stuff. They reuse what they have, for example, in the case of worn-out clothing, they might remove buttons from a flannel shirt and save them for another use, while cutting up the fabric to use in place of paper towels.
Minimalism and Decluttering
As you know, an uncluttered space gives you a stronger sense of well-being. Hoarding things until a home is bursting at the seams can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Clutter feels busy and is distracting. It’s easy to accumulate lots of “stuff” in your home and life.
Those who embrace zero waste living are more likely to be minimalists as the practice leads to serious contemplation before making a purchase. In many cases, low wasters simply learn to live without certain items simply because an eco-friendly version isn’t available.
Popular social media accounts of the aesthetic minimalist lifestyle may entice you to embrace minimalism. With their images of clean white spaces, clutter-free surfaces, and windows without treatments they certainly are attractive. Just keep in mind you don’t have to embrace all-white decor to be a minimalist!
Are all Minimalists Low Waste?
A minimalist makes intentional choices when it comes to material possessions. They are thinking about what they bring into their space.
However, not all minimalists focus on reducing waste.
Choosing the minimalist lifestyle may start with eliminating clutter. The goal is to clean out the space, not necessarily the environment.
If you’ve ever seen Hot Mess House or Tidying Up, you’ve seen piles of “stuff” going to donation centers or even the garbage. After the hit series with Marie Kondo, thrift stores were overwhelmed with too many donations.
Decluttering as a minimalist might lead to trashing items that are no longer wanted, whereas an eco-minimalist would first try to find the item a home. As a last resort, donate to a reputable company. (Because some items which are donated end up in the landfill.)
Marie Kondo enthusiasts usually start out with a goal to declutter. She also recommends keeping things that spark joy. It’s possible that you could have tons of items that spark joy. Many people have tons of knick-knacks and jam-packed shelves full of things that spark joy, so just following Marie Kondo doesn’t mean you’re into minimalism.
An uncluttered space feels more relaxing and calm. However, getting unused items out of the space is the main goal, where it ends up is not necessarily part of the thought process.
What does it mean to be an eco-minimalist?
Those who practice minimalism don’t necessarily think about where the items they declutter end up. Whereas an eco-minimalist may declutter but they will take more time to figure out what to do with items they no longer want.
An eco-minimalist makes purchases based on what the item is made of and what will happen to it when it is no longer needed. In addition, an eco-minimalist likely wants to know if the company they are purchasing the item from pays its employees a living wage.
Practice Sustainable Living
Can practicing eco-minimalism help climate change? It is definitely a step in the right direction. Changing the mindset is usually a good first step and the more people who choose sustainable living, the closer we are to a solution.
Living with less means less packaging, too. Buying second-hand is also more sustainable because of less production, less packaging, less resources and a delay in moving an item to the landfill.
Recycling and even the zero waste movement are not the answer to the problem of climate change. We need better systems for recycling, not just the infrastructure that’s already in place, but ways to recycle new products.
Remember, focus on the people at the top – write the brands you like and tell them you want more sustainable products. Write to politicians and business.
How to Choose Eco-Friendly Products
Yes, it can take time to vote with your dollars. It takes time to figure out which products are most eco-friendly. Greenwashing is rampant and easy to fall for, therefore its important to be aware when making a purchase.
As an eco-minimalist, you will focus on careful product selections. What will happen to this item at the end of its life cycle? Can you recycle the packaging? What resources are needed for this product?
These are a few of the questions you’ll start to think about. Eco-friendly living means you’re thinking about the environment when you make a purchase.
Think about the materials an item is made up of; like wood versus plastic when you’re buying a hairbrush or toothbrush.
Consider your sustainable lifestyle when shopping for personal care items. What can you live without and what can you find that is made with natural renewable materials?
For example, wood, especially when approached responsibly, is a natural renewable resource that can be sustainable. Instead of plastic lawn chairs that get replaced every few years, investing in wooden lawn chairs that you maintain over time would be an eco-friendly purchase.
Other Steps Towards Eco Minimalism
- Pairing down your closet to only a few items that you can mix and match. An eco-minimalist capsule wardrobe would ideally have clothing that is made with natural fibers and sourced sustainably. Either purchased second-hand or from companies focused on reducing their environmental footprint.
- Using up what you have before buying replacements, even when it comes to sustainable swaps. A good example of this can be found in this post about how I waited for my phone case to wear out before I upgraded to a compostable phone case by Pela.
- Conscious Consumerism – Taking extra time to do the research before making a necessary purchase to avoid greenwashing. Having an overall increased awareness of the s of one’s purchase decisions.
- Use an app like DePop, LetGo, Freecycle, or Bunz to help you declutter your home more sustainably.
- Join a buy nothing challenge, which is definitely good for the environment.
Is Eco minimalism for you? Have you considered buying as little as you can to have a smaller carbon footprint?