How Sustainable Is Minimalism?

how sustainable is minimalism


ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Hi, I’m Ryan. When I decided to build my tiny home over a decade ago, I realized that in addition to living minimally, I also had the opportunity to live sustainably. By rethinking my habits and making more intentional choices, I’ve minimized my possessions as well as my carbon footprint.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Are All Minimalists Living Sustainably?

Are All Minimalists Living Sustainably

Before I started my own minimalism journey, I assumed that all minimalists were environmentalists and green-living enthusiasts. But as I learned more about the lifestyle, I was surprised to learn that’s not always the case.

Whether they’re aware of it or not, minimalists sometimes participate in practices that harm the environment — especially if they’re constantly disposing of items in an irresponsible way.

Although many minimalists are also environmentally conscientious, some may be contributing more trash to landfills than non-minimalists, whether it’s from a massive one-time decluttering or constant disposal of non-essentials.

dispose of trash responsibly

What’s The Difference Between Minimalism And Sustainability?

What is The Difference Between Minimalism And Sustainability

Minimalism is a lifestyle in which people strive to live with only the essentials. By discarding both physical and intangible clutter, they hope to lead more peaceful lives.

minimalist lifestyleAs a minimalist myself, I personally believe the primary goal of this lifestyle is simplicity, and sometimes that goal is paired with environmental concern.

In a nutshell, sustainability deals with the avoidance of depleting Earth’s natural resources. It requires both individuals and large companies to examine their behavior and choose eco-friendly options whenever possible. People pursuing a sustainably mindful life typically condemn overconsumption, but they might still own more stuff than a minimalist.

How Does Minimalism Promote Sustainability?How Does Minimalism Promote Sustainability

From my point of view, the truest form of minimalism involves a philosophical shift from over-indulgence and accumulation to gratitude and satisfaction.

Because of this, minimalism has great potential to complement a sustainable lifestyle. When people reevaluate their habits and strive for contentment, it usually leads to less consumption and waste. Instead of finding satisfaction in stuff, we spend more time and energy doing things that make us happy with the people we love.

are minimalists really happier

How To Live Sustainably Through Minimalism

How To Live Sustainably Through Minimalism

When it comes to practicing sustainability, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed by the process. There are so many suggestions for change, and it’s easy to feel like a failure once you start to realize how many of society’s “normal” habits are actually harmful to the environment.

The good news is that living sustainably doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Committing to a few small substitutions, like the ideas I mention below, can dramatically decrease your impact on the environment.

Live In A Tiny Home

Live In A Tiny Home

There are dozens of eco-friendly reasons to move into a tiny home, which is a major part of why I made the switch!

Most notably, tiny homes require significantly less energy than the average home. There is not as much space demanding air conditioning, heat, or electricity. They also call for fewer resources during the construction process.

If living in a tiny home is something you’ve been itching to do for a while, my complete tiny house-building checklist might give you the push you need to get started.

tiny house lifestyle

tiny house building checklist

Buy Less Stuff

Buy Less Stuff

One of the easiest ways to live more sustainably is to reduce your overall consumption. This change can take place immediately and will undoubtedly lead to less waste.

Buying less doesn’t mean you have to stop spending entirely (although I tried it and thought it was a fun challenge).

You can choose to shop for quality over quantity so your items will last longer. Be strategic when shopping and purchase multi-functional items (like sofa beds or sporks) where possible.

no spend challenge

Then Buy Green

Then Buy Green

When you do need to shop, you can choose to buy products made from sustainable materials. They often have a natural aesthetic to them, which is a great complement to the fact that they’re good for the environment. I started using bamboo toothbrushes a while ago, and I will never go back!

Shop Locally

Shopping locally is another effective way to make sustainable purchases. It reduces pollution from vehicles, supports local farmers and businesses instead of giant corporations, and involves less overall packaging. Even doing a portion of your shopping locally can make a big difference.

Avoid Fast Fashion

If you really want to protect the environment, avoid fast fashion! Americans alone dump over 12.8 million tons of clothing into landfills every year. That’s an astronomical number, especially when there are alternatives.

Shopping secondhand, purchasing clothes from sustainable retailers, and embracing a minimalist wardrobe can significantly cut back on textile waste. I wear the same minimalist uniform every day, and I’ve never been happier.

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

Discard Responsibly

Discard Responsibly

Part of living sustainably is exercising thoughtfulness, especially when it comes to discarding items. Being mindful about where your trash will end up can help you make decisions that better serve the environment.

donate old clothingResponsible food disposal can be easily accomplished by composting. Not only will your scraps not harm the environment, but they will directly help it! Composting creates nutritionally dense fertilizer that can be added to soil to help your plants thrive.

There are many ways to thoughtfully dispose of clothing you no longer want. If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, you can try selling clothes online or at a garage sale. The listing process is pretty simple for most apps and websites, and you might be surprised by how much money you can make. Donate the excess or anything you don’t wish to sell to a thrift store, where shoppers are often looking to give old clothing new life.

The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” may be a cliché, but these concepts, as well as donating and selling, are far better for the environment than throwing things into the trash. Whether you’re a minimalist or not, these actions are guaranteed to help you live more sustainably.

Your Turn!

  • In what ways does your current approach to minimalism promote sustainability?
  • Which sustainable practices can you begin incorporating into your life?
1 Comment
  1. We don’t even understand that we don’t need so much in our lives to be truly happy.

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