Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature. ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1964
Our culture is one of consumption and wanting and never having enough.
As minimalists, we reduce wholeheartedly, ridding ourselves of the excess in our lives and striving to live simply, without the burdens of needing to need. We eliminate incoming junk mail, we ask our family and friends not to buy gifts, we turn down freebies at the mall, and we make conscious decisions about what items deserve a space in our lives.
Minimalist does not necessarily mean green, sustainable, or environmentally-conscious, however.
Even with the simplest of living situations, you can run up a mean carbon footprint tab if you eat convenience foods over fresh, travel by plane, commute long distances by car (guilty over here!), throw away recyclables, buy imported items, etc. It is very easy to live a life that is not conscious of the Earth and our responsibility as its stewards.
Some ways you can green up your minimalist life include:
- Reduce your consumption of prepackaged foods and fast food
- Reduce fuel consumption and emissions and bike or walk around town instead of driving
- Reduce emissions by traveling via train (the most eco-friendly distance travel) instead of car, bus, or plane (or purchase carbon offsets if you do travel by car, bus, or plane)
- Reduce fuel and emissions (again!) by buying local produce, dairy, and meat – imported food means more carbon emissions to get it there
- Reduce electricity consumption by turning off lights, using energy-conserving appliances, etc.
- Reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, etc.
- Use a reusable cup to take to your coffee shop (just ask, many places are okay using your cup to make your beverage) — this reduces waste for you and the planet!
- Use reusable canvas grocery bags
- Reuse plastic grocery bags as trash bags in your home or as animal waste bags, or use them to wrap up your shoes in a suitcase to keep dirt off the rest of your clothes
- Use reusable containers instead of disposable bags for snacks and sandwiches when you pack your lunch
- Recycle whenever possible (paper, plastic, metal, glass)
- Recycle electronics, batteries, printer ink, and other technological items
- Recycle (or reuse) plastic grocery bags
Are you a green minimalist? How do you curb your impact on the planet?