Recently, I’ve received a lot of questions about how I balance homesteading with minimalism, and the answer to that is because of my focus on eco minimalism. While I am not the biggest fan of labels, I’ve found value in this one.
The truth is that it isn’t always easy to focus on eco minimalism because combining eco-friendly living with minimalism often creates a lot of crashes. However, they can complement each other quite well.
When you learn what it means to be an eco-friendly minimalist and how to balance the two lifestyles together, you not only create a beautiful lifestyle for yourself, but you’re also serving the health of our planet well.
I do believe that focusing on eco minimalism can save our planet and improve our lives. I’ll explain all of my reasoning within this post, including the key principles, the difference between minimalism and eco minimalism, how they clash and balance each other, where to start, and more!
Is minimalism good for the environment?
First, I want to start with answering if minimalism is even good for the environment. With there being so much focus on removing the things you no longer want, can it really be good for the environment?
The impact shipping secondhand clothing to Africa has is enough to validate this question, because many secondhand items aren’t sold in secondhand shops. Looking at clothing specifically, most clothing is either recycled or shipped to third world countries for them to sell [read the article for all the details].
Another valid point is that many decluttered items aren’t properly disposed of. While I don’t have exact stats for you, there are many who don’t want to deal with decluttered items and just throw them in the trash to send to the landfill.
Neither of these examples is sustainable nor environmentally friendly.
However, the minimalist lifestyle and what it stands for, I do believe is good for the environment.
Minimalism is about reducing consumption and getting creative with how you consume.
When you reduce what you consume, you also reduce the resources need to produce those things, which is great for the environment.
Minimalism focuses on only having in your life what adds value to that and once you really define what those things are, finding contentment is easy. You aren’t purchasing a lot of things you don’t actually need, because you’re more conscious about your consumption.
What I mean by finding creative ways to consume is through borrowing or renting things you may need one or two times a year versus buying it new or even used.
When you know you will only wear a dress once, it is often more economical to borrow or rent a dress versus buying one.
The same goes for weddings or taking an extended vacation. Renting wedding supplies, a car, boat, or house is far more economical than buying them for a short period of time.
You don’t have to be a minimalist to get creative with your consumption. This is just another example of how minimalism is good for the environment.
What is eco minimalism?
Eco minimalism is combining an eco-friendly lifestyle with a minimalist lifestyle. It is about consuming intentionally in ways that promote the planet’s health.
I really like this simple definition by Deanna Pratt:
Eco-minimalism takes the basics of minimalism and transforms them through the lens of being environmentally conscious.– Deanna Pratt, founder of Eco Ally
Key Values of Eco Minimalism
The first place to start is curbing your consumer mindset. This can be difficult thanks to marketing, but it is possible.
Shopping secondhand first is the best way to become a conscious consumer, because you are giving a second life to things others no longer want. However, you still need to be mindful of how much you consume.
Only shop for things you’ve thought about and truly need. It is easier to do this by shopping with a list and committing yourself to stick to it.
Less is more
Creating space in your life for only the things that add value to it is a great way to be an eco-friendly minimalist.
When you choose to get rid of things, you’re doing it in a sustainable way by using the following options:
1 // Repurpose – Is there another way you can use this item?
2 // Repair – Are you only letting it go because it needs repairing? If so, take the time to repair it.
3 // Sell – Selling ensures that something gets a great new home. Just make sure it is worth the effort.
4 // Offer for free – Whether you post online or sit something out at the end of your driveway with a ‘FREE’ sign on it, offering something for free before choosing the donation route will also help something find a good home.
The difference is that this item may not be worth selling, but others still find value in it. An example is glass jars. Jewelry makers or artists find use in used glass jars, but they don’t necessarily have any selling value.
5 // Donate – Have a great organization that could use your unwanted items? If so, donating them is a great option!
6 // Recycle – Check your local recycling centers for all that you can recycle and ensure these things are never put in the trash.
7 // Trash – If the other six suggestions don’t work, then putting these things in the trash is likely your only option. However, going through the other suggestions should reduce this to hardly anything.
Related Post: How to Reduce Waste at Home; 101 Ways to Reduce Waste
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle means that your choices are focused on being environmentally positive, which is great news for the planet.
This can include switching out single-use items for reusable items, having a non-toxic home, growing your own food, among other things.
When you combine eco-friendly living with minimalism, you will have to compromise with some things.
For example, as someone who homesteads, I have a collection of canning jars. It isn’t minimalist, but it is eco-friendly. They are useful to me, which is why I have so many.
The same goes for having things like bobby pins. You can’t buy just a few of them, so having a small collection that you will likely go through over the years is something you choose because it is more environmentally friendly.
Eco-minimalism vs minimalism
I hit on the broad points that bring eco-friendly living and minimalism together, but I want to discuss their differences to help you see that just because you are a minimalist, it doesn’t mean you’re an eco-friendly minimalist.
How they are the same
Both lifestyles are about conscious consumerism. They both hold the values of less is more and living a meaningful life.
Both eco minimalism and minimalism promote experiences over material possession and doing good things.
How they are different
Minimalism focuses primarily on living with only the things you need. It doesn’t focus on sustainable or ethical practices. It helps you realize that things do not own you, but that the opposite is true.
Many minimalists focus on how many things they own of each item and remove any excess so that they have just what they need. Where the unwanted items end up are not necessarily a primary concern.
Eco minimalism is about living with only the things that you need and is sourced and used with Earth’s health in mind.
What I mean by used with the Earth’s health in mind is that eco minimalism focuses on using up something as a means of decluttering.
There are many things that aren’t easily rehomed or donated and end up in a landfill, so eco-friendly minimalists see this as an opportunity to use the resources they already have first.
Let’s continue with the bobby pin example. Say you have an abundance of bobby pins that will last you many years. Instead of decluttering to just a small handful, an eco-friendly minimalist will keep the bobby pins and recycle those that are no longer useful.
Bobby pins are something that isn’t likely to be rehomed easily, which means they are either recycled or put in the trash as a means of decluttering. An eco-friendly minimalist sees that as a waste of resources, so a small collection of them feels necessary.
How to find balance as an eco-minimalist
As I mentioned in the differences of eco minimalism and minimalism, you have to find proper balance with combining the two lifestyles.
Start by identifying your values, what is important in your life, and what is needed to create that lifestyle for you.
Next, you want to make a plan for bringing that to life. When you’re decluttering, you want to be conscious of what happens to that item if you get rid of it.
Being conscious of what you should use up before decluttering or have as a collection will help bring balance to your life.
Remember how I told you that I had a collection of canning jars? There was a point in time that I had problems with this because it isn’t “minimalist”. But the truth is that they are useful for me to have and allow me to store food from my garden year-round, so I found peace with keeping all of them.
The same goes for bobby pins and hair bands. I purchased a packet of both and plan to work through them versus decluttering what I don’t need. It is far better to use them than trying to find a new home for them because they most likely will end up in the landfill.
Can minimalism be a solution to a sustainable future?
I believe so! The minimalist lifestyle, in general, is about being intentional and reducing the consumption of things you don’t need.
Imagine if everyone on the planet developed a minimalist lifestyle in terms of reducing unnecessary consumption of goods of all kinds!
There would be fewer resources, such as water, electricity, natural gases, trees, etc., used to create new things, which is great news for the planet!
Overall, I believe it is a great option to help increase sustainability.
Related Post: 27 Eco-Friendly Home Ideas for a Greener House
How to start living as an eco-friendly minimalist
There are a few ideas that I want to share to help you start living as an eco-friendly minimalist:
1 // Use the resources you already have that are useful for you.
There is no reason you should declutter things that are useful.
Maybe you have an abundance of something that you wish was more manageable? Focus on working through the abundance until you get to that more manageable place.
2 // Find eco-friendly, creative ways to consume less
When you consume less, you waste less, and when you waste less, the planet is healthier. It is as simple as that.
One way that really reduces consumption is by replacing single-use items with reusable items.
This decreases the need for new materials that are bound for the landfill after one use, decreases your spending, and allows you to keep things better organized in your home.
Performing a trash audit will help you identify these single-use items, as well as other things that could be swapped for eco-friendly options.
3 // Shop small businesses over big box stores
When you shop at small businesses, you’re supporting people’s dreams, ethical practices, and often times, more sustainable businesses.
Small businesses truly care about their customers and often provide a much better customer experience compared to big box stores.
Big box stores are a big problem when it comes to ethics and sustainability. They are a big problem for our entire world, but that is a conversation for another time.
It is far better to support small businesses, and if local small businesses are an option, that is best.
If you shop online, I highly recommend shopping on Etsy! Etsy is a handmade, vintage, and unique gifts website that includes a large variety of things that individuals and small businesses create.
It is actually how I personally started my eco minimalism journey.
Now that you know more about what eco minimalism is and how to be an eco-friendly minimalist, it is time to take action, if this lifestyle inspires you. [Hopefully, it does!]
I’ve got plenty of free resources available to help you discover more about living simply and sustainably within my FREE Resource Library, so be sure to put the inspiration to action by getting access to it now!
It includes things to help you declutter your home and mind, live more sustainably, dive deeper into the minimalist lifestyle, and more!
You can start with one of my favorite checklists: 101 Ways to Reduce Your Waste!
Eco minimalism is a lifestyle that, to me, is good any way you look at it.
This lifestyle allows you to focus on living a meaningful life without excess distracting you, making good choices for our planet, experiencing all that life and this planet has to offer, and eliminating unethical and unsustainable things from your life.
Remember that it is a process that takes time, but know that it is worth the effort!
I’m curious to know if you practice eco minimalism? Let me know by leaving a comment!