Minimalism is where something is stripped to its essentials. In art this may be an abstract form devoid of detail and colour that the artist deems unnecessary to convey a message. In daily life it often refers to someone who lives with fewer material possessions, ridding themselves of unnecessary ‘things’.

Reducing the number of material possessions we have to those that are essential to us could make a huge difference to the planet.

Consumerism – the preoccupation of our society to keep acquiring consumer goods – forms a huge part of the problem when it comes to over use of energy, raw materials and waste products.

Buying material items has become ingrained as a good thing in everyday Western lifestyle. If we all stopped to think before we got excited in the sales, we could together make a huge difference to this planet.

Every material possession we buy, costs energy and materials to produce, not to mention transport emissions and excess packaging (often single use plastic) to get the item to the shops. We then use the item in our lives maybe daily, maybe once in a blue moon, then ultimately the item ends up breaking or no longer needed, and often ends up in landfill. Even if we manage to repair it or send to recycling, most things have a finite life and end up in landfill somewhere along the journey.

A simple way to reduce all of this wasted energy, emissions and ultimately pollution to planet Earth, is to reduce the number of things we buy in the first place.

When you next go shopping, stop and think. Do you really need that new kettle to match your newly painted kitchen? Are the latest fashion trainers really necessary to fit in with your friends? Do you really need that extra toy for your toddler when they barely play with the ones they already have?

Embracing minimalism doesn’t mean to have to live in a completely empty house!

Useful or brings joy

Embracing minimalism doesn’t have to mean living in a completely white house with nothing in it. Just think about the things you actually need. When a vase breaks, unless it is something you use regularly or brings you immense joy? If no to both, don’t replace it.

Essential items can mean different things to different people. Obvious things are those that enable to to eat, drink, keep you warm and safe such as basic kitchen items, heating devices, crockery etc. Not so obvious items may also include things that are essential to your mental wellbeing – this may include a special piece of art on your wall that brings you happiness when looking at it.

A simple way to assess your own material possessions is rate each item with this simple system.

  • Is it useful? Yes then great keep it/replace it when it breaks!
  • If it isn’t a useful item – does it bring you a lot of joy? Yes then keep it. Items that affect our mental wellbeing are just as essential as our physical needs.
  • Is it something that isn’t useful, and doesn’t bring out much emotion in you? Then get rid of it. Many people buy these items every day. Whether it is a print in a frame to match your new decor (just because it is the same colour as your bed linen and in the sale, doesn’t mean it is essential), or the latest mobile phone (giving you an extra 1cm of screen size and some new ring tones – is this really essential to you?).

Added benefits

Decluttering your home and reducing the amount of material possessions you bring into it, can have huge benefits.

Making it easier to keep a tidy and clean home and giving you more space and light can both be hugely beneficial to your mental wellbeing.

You will also be saving money on unnecessary things, giving you more freedom to buy quality long-lasting essential items when you need them.

Don’t throw away everything

If you do want to live a more minimalist lifestyle, don’t just throw everything away. If you have items you want to get rid of from your house, donate them to others that may have a use for them, extending their lifespan.

Think of it more as a change of attitude going forward. Every time you go to click on ‘buy’ online or add something to your shopping basket, stop, think, reassess and say no wherever you can.

Can you recommend any environmentally friendly local organisations that we have missed from the Directory? – get in touch here via email, or message us through any of our social media pages so we can help support and spread the word.

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Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot