Everyone lives their life in their own way, with their own set of principles and morals that help them be the best version of themselves. But there are lifestyle movements that can act as a foundation for those looking to make a change, and I want to talk about two of those movements that have impacted me in my own life: Zero Waste & Minimalism.
A philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. The zero waste movement particularly strives to reduce and eliminate plastic usage.
A focus of intentionality that drives people to question what they need and what they want. The goal is to better understand what is adding value to one’s life and what is simply taking up space. Typically, people who seek minimalism are on a journey of decluttering their life to find what “sparks joy.” Most come to see very quickly that it is not things that bring life but people and experiences.
I view these two movements together, because a lot of people end up along the same path (get rid of your stuff, and stop creating waste because you’re more intentional about purchases). Both movements also have an incredible number of benefits for your wallet and the environment!
Of course, these philosophies probably sound intimidating now, but the wonderful thing is you can use them as guidelines, not a strict code of conduct.
The thing to remember is: Perfection is NOT the goal.
MY THOUGHTS & JOURNEY
I didn’t truly start finding interest in zero waste until I read the book Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. I also started investigating the minimalist lifestyle after watching the thought-provoking documentary Minimalism on Netflix.
Personally, I don’t live a 100% Zero Waste life (it’s incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible). I also believe minimalism is a never-ending journey.
I’m aware that some people don’t like these movements because they’re typically led by rich white people who can afford higher quality items and who’ve never had to deal with actual minimalism that comes with poverty.
I struggle with this, because my family was hit very hard by the Great Recession (2007-2009). I remember having to cut out all “frills” (newspaper subscriptions as an example) just to have enough food to eat. As a family we had to ask ourselves what was necessary and what was excess.
For instance, my mom and I didn’t go on clothes shopping trips every other weekend anymore. Instead, we found creative ways to spend time together that didn’t involve accumulating things or spending money! One of our favorite activities then became visiting model homes in our area pretending to look for a place to buy (my mom worked in the housing industry, what can I say?).
I’ve also seen firsthand the harsh realities of impoverished communities through volunteering, research, and policy reform work. This work is a passion of mine and has pushed me to make an active effort to NOT be a stranger to the realities or systemic roots of poverty.
One thing people don’t talk about though, too, is that the money you save can then go to helping others. Additionally, a lot of companies that sell products geared to these movements are more ethical in their manufacturing and benevolent with their profits (i.e. buy one give one to partner causes).
All this to say, I am slowly making more decisions that align with these movements. Not only am I helping our earth, I’m gaining confidence in my purchases and the companies I’m supporting.
Now, I’m on a continuous journey, always finding more resources that inspire me to live with less.
- Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
- There are many more books on these topics, I just haven’t read them yet!
- The Slow Home Podcast
- The Minimalists Podcast
Movies & Documentaries:
- Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
- Expedition Happiness
- Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
- The Zero Waste Collective (zero.waste.collective)
- Shia Su ( _wastelandrebel_ )
- Easy Eco Tips (easyecotips)
- Wowe Lifestyle (wowelifestyle)
I hope that this post and list of resources can act as a touchstone for you if you are curious about the benefits of zero waste or minimalist lifestyles.
Above all, remember that every small difference and choice to be kinder to yourself and the earth makes a positive impact.