Minimalism and sustainability go hand in hand. When you begin to consider how much stuff you need, you inevitably end up thinking about how much you use and waste.
For me, this happened pretty early in my minimalist journey. As I went through my decluttering process, I began to think about where the things I was discarding were going.
In the early days, I would drop a bag or two off to a charity shop bin, only to find that the bin was already full. It dawned on me that even people who aren’t minimalists discard a lot of stuff. If lots of people were donating their unwanted items, who was sorting through all the stuff? Where was all of it going?
I knew the answer could not be simple, and as much as I tried not to concern myself with it, I did.
At some point I made a decision to discard my things mindfully. To me this meant that rather than donating my things to charity, I would ‘un-buy’ my things.
The process of un-buying is extremely important in developing minimalist shopping behaviour. Without it, it is possible that you might declutter your whole home, and then a year later find yourself in exactly the same position again.
Un-buying means going through the process of personally finding new homes for the items you discard. This might mean selling, swapping, or giving those items away to other individuals. This, you will see, is a lot of work. The work is not fun, but the process teaches you the value of each item. Importantly, it bypasses the middle man – charity organisations. Donating to charities should be left as a last resort.
There are many problems associated with donating to charities. One is the phenomena referred to as the ‘clothing deficit myth’. This is the idea that people in need will make use of our donated items. While this phrase refers to clothing specifically, I’m sure it is true of other items that make their way to charity stores. The fact is that there are more things getting donated to charities than people need. In addition, people in need often need more practical things, such as food, money and shelter.
A lot of man power and fossil fuelled energy are required to sort through these items by charity organisations. I have looked at a few different figures, but most claim that between 85% and 90% of clothing and other textiles donated to charity end up in landfill. Textile waste is now the second biggest global polluter on our planet, behind the oil industry.
More importantly though, our items end up in the global second hand trade. Many western countries sell second hand textiles to developing nations. Those textiles enter the marketplace of those countries, stalling traditional local textile production and crafts. Still, even in those places that are resource poor, excess textile items end up in landfill.
By far the best way that you can limit your waste is to buy less. Thinking about every purchase you make is crucial to sustaining a minimalist lifestyle.
Within the many criticisms of minimalism, one obvious positive that is often overlooked is the simple fact that minimalists use less resources. Regardless of whether the said minimalist is environmentally aware or not, consuming less products means leaving less of an environmental footprint.
Over the last year I have been developing minimalist habits that not only reduce my waste, but also save me money. The video below is about some of the strategies I’ve been using. All of them are designed to save you space, limit the number of products you use, and are good for our planet.
In other news, I am very pleased to announce I will be taking part in Eco Fashion Week Australia this year. My role is to promote the event through my channel, blog and social media platforms. I will be making my own content about it, but also producing content for the EFWA YouTube channel. EFWA is young, only in its second year, and it is very exciting to be able to contribute to such a groundbreaking event at its conception. I will be lucky enough to fly to Port Douglas in November to document the Queensland events.
The images below are from the Eco Fashion Week Australia promo video shoot.
Check me out on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and now Pinterest! I also have a Patreon account, where I post additional content weekly. Patreon subscribers receive a number of benefits, including additional weekly content, early access, and discount in the Small Wardrobe shop.