GARDEN & HOME >
By Ben Masterson & Marie-Berdine Steyn
F eeling the need to downscale, downsize or de-clutter?
We show you how and what important considerations to keep in mind before getting rid of the things you own.
THE IMPACT OF MINIMALISM ON OUR HOME ENVIRONMENT
Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean to completely get rid of all your belongings. Countless minimalist went down that road only to find out later they gave away stuff they needed.
Minimalism’s aim is driven towards sustainable living that is conducive to our environment, animal and plant life, and helps us feel more relaxed and in control of our work-home environment.
In other words, those who adopt the minimalist lifestyle become conscious of what they purchase and why they are buying it.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME
- Do I need the house I live in?
- Is it too big or too small?
- If it’s too big, will a smaller place suit me better?
- Or perhaps, can I rent out some rooms instead?
A smaller, more compact home or even mobile home is said to have less impact on nature.
Or does it?
How we use what we have, ultimately determines the impact we create. If we have a small mobile home but leave behind our garbage or spoil the land we occupy, it’s not all that sustainable and conductive to nature. At the end of the day, whether you live in a small or big house, it might be more practical to do the best with what you have. A reasonable consideration might be to implement a waste management system and to teach everyone in the family how to segregate and dispose of waste.
When you downscale to a smaller house, you may just have another problem with feeling boxed in and overwhelmed by the lack of space to move around.
If storage space is a problem determine if everything you own is needed. Sometimes, simplifying our home décor can create more space.
Is our electronic equipment taking over our lives? Even if we can afford it, is it necessary to have all that communication equipment or TV’s in each room?
Then there is the problem of products that are difficult to recycle. Think of the damage caused by plastic to land- and sea animals, and batteries. Find a way to recycle these items sustainably.
IMPACT ON OUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT
Minimalism is fabulous for working environments. When our desk is kept minimal, neat and tidy, it creates the illusion of openness, productivity and space.
How does your current office space feel?
Do you feel stressed by just looking at all those files, papers, coffee mugs, and takeaway boxes? Or do you enjoy sitting down at your desk every day?
Minimalism’s message is simple. Get rid of the clutter! Re-consider your working environment. Clean up your desk. Tidy up all those loose computer cables. Get your filing up to date. Get organized. Donate all the extra’s you don’t need, and experience the liberating feelings minimalism has brought!
Even DN’s and location independents moving from country to country can benefit from ensuring the workspace they occupy are set up to help maximize their productivity.
“Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean to completely get rid of all your belongings. Countless minimalist went down that road only to find out later they gave away stuff they needed.”
IMPACT ON NATURE AND ANIMAL LIFE
The fact is humans and the way they live can harm nature, though it’s not always recognizable as such. The most significant impact is the consumption and the disposing of rubbish, broken, used or unwanted stuff. Do we NEED everything we WANT?
The largest slice of society is meat eaters. Everyone can’t or don’t want to be a vegetarian, so livestock won’t disappear. But we can help the planet by reducing meat intake and eating more veggies.
When we travel we can ensure to keep our purchases of plastics and harmful items that might end up in the countries oceans, rivers or landfills to a minimum; or adopt more sustainable travel methods. One such is cooking our own food instead of take-out and walking to the grocer around the corner. We will be healthier for it and won’t buy as much because we have to carry it with us!
Think of the manufacturing of consumer products and growing industrialization in the world and the impact of emission on our environment. When we start thinking about where the products we purchase come from, we can make smarter purchases.
Example, where does feather pillows and duvets come from?
Unfortunately, and though denied by a variety of manufacturers, feather (down) items are created from the live plucking of geese. Though there are claims that a lot of down bedding is made from ‘fake down,’ the practice of geese plucking is still applied in countries around the world. See the video below by
SENSITIVITY WARNING: This video may contain graphic scenes of animal abuse. Not suitable for children or sensitive viewers.
Minimalists care about the impact they have on animal life and nature. Consider researching a product before purchasing. Read more about the manufacturer and how they treat nature and animal life.
IMPACT ON OUR PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL ENVIRONMENT
We live in an environment where we buy what we perceive we need. We expect a level of joy or excitement or to get some form of relief derived from our purchases. Mostly, we buy what we want and not what we need. Before long, our lives and homes are cluttered with junk and massive debt.
Our lives can also become cluttered with bad memories and bad experiences. Life has a way of teaching us lessons and making us stronger through those experiences. The result can be an addiction to BUYING new “things” to give us some perceived sense of happiness. Instead, it just clutters our lives.
That is where minimalism comes in. As minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus said:
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear and worry. Freedom from guilt and depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around.”
That brings us back to where we started. Minimalism is the promoting of those things in life that has real value and the removal of distractions.
SO HOW DO I START?
The easiest way to start is to decide whether you have a “space” or a “stuff” problem and if the items you own are ‘need’ items or ‘want’ items. If you have bought an item but never used it, place it in the want category.
Go through your house and remove all duplicates. The easy ones are things like books and DVDs. Just keep what is necessary. Box the extras and the unwanted, and let it sit for a month or two. If you didn’t use anything in your box, give it charity or sell it. (DN’s or those considering the DN lifestyle may opt to place their belongings in storage for a few months.)
Important: Don’t throw stuff away. It just adds to an existing problem at garbage dumps.
Create a new clutter-free work area in your home. That may be the kitchen, your family room or your main work area. Don’t forget the garden if you have one. Keep only what you need.
Start traveling lightly. Pack less clothing and don’t drag unnecessary electronics along. Rather spend time with family and friends while on vacation.
Change your eating habits. Try to eat simpler and healthier meals that don’t come with all those wrappings and throw-aways.
Minimalism can have benefits to nature, animal life, our planet and ourselves. But the choice is always ours as to which extent we want to be ‘minimal.’