You may think that zero waste and minimalism are polar opposites, but they have many similarities. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately with the adoption of a slow progression into zero waste and how it aligns with our minimalist lifestyle. I wondered whether being a minimalist wouldn’t align with zero waste as you are encouraged to keep things and reuse them. To me, that seemed quite the opposite because you end up accumulating bits of things just for the sake of not sending them to landfill.
In many ways, minimalism is about only keeping what you need and love and eliminating the rest. But if we start asking the right questions before the item even enters our space, then we can align with a zero waste lifestyle too.
They align through conscious consumerism.
By learning to reuse what you currently own and get creative with how many uses an item can have, you will not need to be buying products that are marketed as zero-waste. Don’t get me wrong, if you currently don’t have a water bottle and are buying plastic bottles of water when you are out, then investing in a plastic-free, quality water bottle is a really great purchase. Thinking about a product that will last a lifetime and buying it with that intention can save you so much time and waste in the long run.
This way of thinking also aligns perfectly with zero waste and minimalism, you’re not bringing more stuff into your space as the things that you are investing in are made to last. I love products that have a lifetime warranty because mentally you know it’s built to last, and if you look after it, you won’t ever need to replace it.
Having the mindset of a conscious consumer will filter out a lot of what you buy. It can seem frustrating sometimes, but when you have a really strong why, nothing seems too hard. Going that extra 15 minutes to get to your nearest bulk buying shop with your own jars rather than popping into the local supermarket and buying something in cheap, throwaway plastic that’s not good for you or the environment, becomes a habit.
Zero waste and minimalist lifestyle are only ideals.
Both these lifestyles can seem a little too idealistic and untouchable. Well, that’s because they are. They are ideals that many of us strive towards because we want to cause the least impact on mother nature and create opportunities in life to live more simply. Less stuff equals more time for things and people we love. Having that awareness can empower and help you take control of how you impact yourself and the world. I find that for me, it brings a sense of belonging and makes me feel more connected to the universe.
These lifestyles can also become a little obsessive. I know I’ve found myself many times being completely consumed by this. For many of us, it’s the philosophy that underlines all that we do. How we choose to shop, live and spend our time. You become aware of the footprint you’re creating. These lifestyles aren’t about perfection but progression.
If it’s not sustainable for you to be making things from scratch all the time when you first start out, it won’t be sustainable in the long term.
Begin to ask yourself the right questions.
- What is the lifecycle of this product I’m about to buy?
- Could I find an alternative that doesn’t require packaging?
- Could this item become a multi-purpose item?
- Can I go without it?
When you begin to start asking the right questions and making decisions based on them, you naturally switch to a more sustainable way of living. You don’t fall for the sales, and you only go to the shops when you need something rather than browsing or window shopping.
Find that balance.
As I mentioned earlier, no one is perfect, especially when dealing with such ideals. Finding the balance within this lifestyle is key. Seeing what works for you and sticking to that. It won’t always plan out the way you think, and there will be room for improvement. But at the end of the day, you know you’re trying your best. That’s all that matters.
Picking your battles is also really important, and sometimes you don’t have control over what you get, but in many other areas of your life, you do. Again, progress over perfection.
Create the space for more important things in your life and know that in many cases you can actually do without. Decades of marketing has lead us to believe that we need so many things for our lives to be fulfilling and positive. However, I feel that the demand in the world is slowly going back to basics. With so many people on planet Earth, it’s not possible to support so much consumerism and waste. Period. No wonder we are looking at moving to Mars. What we’re doing is just not sustainable.
Share your view
We’d love to hear how you’ve found a balance between a zero waste and minimalist lifestyle. Do you think that they can co-exist? How do you manage your own expectations around such ideals?