Green minimalism

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:

  • 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.

REUSE:

  • 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:

  • 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?

4 thoughts on “Green minimalism

  1. Nicola B says:

    I’m not very good at reducing my fuel consumption (it wouldn’t be possible to get to work by bus or train- I could cycle but it’s 12.5 miles of country lanes and I’m not fit enough at the moment!) although as I hate driving long distances I tend to get the train for longer journeys. I do have a fairly small, fairly old car- so the car is being reused, and is fairly fuel efficient (about 45 mpg)
    Always do my best to put as little as possibly into landfill- although when I am being lazy with food shopping and cooking I end up with more packaging than I’d like.

    I’ve cut out plastic grocery bags- always take reusable ones, and for spur of the moment/ non food shopping trips, I always have a couple of small reusable bags in my handbag.

    We have a little device (given to us by the electricity company) which tells is how much electricity we are currently using. A definite incentive to turn everything off!

    • Caitlin says:

      I try to keep a reusable bag on hand in the car or something for those impromptu shopping trips! I don’t feel too bad about the occasional plastic bag from the store, since I reuse them at home as garbage or recycling bags. That is a handy electricity reading device, I bet it keeps you on top of things!! Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it!

  2. Drop that Debt says:

    Love this post ! I am constantly making strides to become more green. I love the impact I can already feel from not purchasing so much junk and cheap clothing that I just get rid of right away. My fuel has reduced considerably since moving, I barely drive my car but the only problem is when I go to visit my family 3.5 hours away. But all things considered I still spend less on fuel than I used to! And I ALWAYS bring reusable bags to the store.

    • Caitlin says:

      I have been using my canvas bags all the time, and I love it. I’m also looking into handkerchiefs and cloth napkins because I feel so gross throwing away all that paper every day.

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