Minimalism, also known as “simple living” is about living with less and using what you have to its maximum ability. Minimalistic living is essential to developing a sustainable lifestyle and will help you reduce your carbon footprint. By using less, you decrease the demand for materials that would typically end up in a landfill after use, and reduce the carbon emissions that would be used to produce those materials.

In the past few years, minimalism has become popular due to a few key authors who have promoted it to the public. Marie Kondo became a huge inspiration for aspiring minimalists in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her Netflix Series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, also known as The Minimalists, also helped popularize this lifestyle choice in their Netflix Documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and their book Everything That Remains.

Do you want to learn how to live a more minimalistic lifestyle and create less waste while saving energy and money? Try following some of these tips to get started!

1. Evaluate

The first step in any minimalist’s journey is to step back and evaluate. Take an objective view and examine your home, your belongings, and your lifestyle. Once you observe these things through an objective lens, you can determine which aspects you want to change. This stage is often the hardest because it can be emotionally challenging and overwhelming, but this will make the next stage easier.

2. Declutter

Now here comes the fun part! Decluttering. A good rule of thumb when decluttering is the 90/90 rule. To follow the 90/90 rule, ask yourself: have I used this in the past 90 days? Or will I use it in the next 90 days? If not, it is probably safe to get rid of it. Focus on removing items that do not bring any joy or meaning to your life. That being said, if you haven’t used something in a long time but it holds sentimental value, store it away or find a way to display it! Make sure to repeat this process throughout your minimalist journey. Here are some suggestions to help ease into the process of decluttering:

Closet:
Throw all of your clothes onto one pile on your bed. Go through each item of clothing and pick out which ones to keep, which ones to store, and which ones to donate. Then, organize your clothes in a way that makes sense for your needs. Try to store clothes for different seasons that you won’t be using for a while.

Kitchen:
Empty out your cabinets one at a time and decide which utensils and appliances are most essential to the daily function of your life. Keep the ones you can’t go without, and donate or give away what you can. Organize your cabinets in a way that makes the most sense for you. Marie Kondo recommends leaving your counterspace completely bare so that your kitchen will be much more functional and easier to use.

Garage:
Take everything off the shelves and move it into the center of the garage. First, like with your closet and kitchen, go through each item and decide which ones to keep, which ones to donate, and which ones to store. If you have unwanted furniture or building materials that are in great condition, consider donating them to EcoBuilding Bargains. You can save money on disposal costs, get a tax deduction, and free up storage space! Finally, organize items by their function on the shelves.

Paper:
From old notebooks with doodles in them to binders stuffed with syllabi and old school forms, paper can hold a lot of memories. Many people lug massive amounts of paper with them because of these memories. In Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, she suggests that there are three categories of paper that you should not discard:

• Need attention – forms that need to be signed, bills to pay, etc.
• Needed for short term – tax documents, warranties, etc.
• Important paperwork needed indefinitely – birth certificate, social security, etc.

If you find yourself with a lot of excess paper, try recycling or reusing it. Recycling paper conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves some space in landfills for trash that can’t be recycled.

RecyclingWorks is another great resource if you are a business or institution looking to recycle while you are in the decluttering process. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program that helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion opportunities.

3. Practice Conscious Purchasing and Quality over Quantity

Always give thought to what you are buying and bringing into your home. It is easy to give into retail therapy, but try to be conscious about the necessity of that item.

It is also more sustainable to shop for well-made items whenever possible. Low-quality items will break down faster and need to be replaced. If you have the option to purchase high-quality items, they will last longer and prevent new items from having to be made as frequently. Low quality items that degrade quickly typically are not in good enough condition to be donated, so they end up in a landfill.

If you are not in a position to buy high-quality items new, purchasing reclaimed materials is a great alternative because it prevents something new from being made, saves you money, and diverts waste from the landfill. EcoBuilding Bargains, the Center for EcoTechnology’s reuse store, is the largest reclaimed and surplus building materials store in New England! Shop online or in our store at 83 Warwick Street, Springfield, MA.

4. Practicing Gratitude

Harvard Medical School defines gratitude as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible”. Studies show that people who have more gratitude tend to be happier, more optimistic, and feel better about their lives. Marie Kondo suggests that while decluttering, you should thank the items that you are parting ways with for serving a purpose in your life. Practicing gratitude will help you be happy with what you already have, and the desire to own more will slowly start to disappear.

Living a more minimalistic lifestyle will not only help you feel more content with what you have, but it will also help divert materials from landfills, save you money, and allow you to appreciate the things that really matter in life. By following the tips provided in this blog, you will be on your way to living a simpler life while shrinking your carbon footprint.