I'm wrestling with the intersection of minimalist and green lifestyles — attracted by minimalisms promise of a clutter free home and mind, but rooted in the packrat mentality of a reusing green junkie.
If minimalists can be green, what do I do with all this stuff?
My green cleaning habits and cosmetic drawer provide inspiration. Homemade household cleaners and DIY cosmetics live up to the minimalist promise of fulfillment in the face of hyper-consumerist culture: a few ingredients combined the right way beautifully meet all my needs.
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There must be other synergies!
So despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that my home is bursting with saved bits of this that, I resolved that this year's spring cleaning will be a minimalist face lift. Donated are the pants from grade 11, our amassed mismatched kitchen cups and three boxes of books that probably weren't on the "timeless treasures" list. I've joyfully recycled a large crate of hard-to-recycle items and safely returned a couple cans of almost empty paint and a small bag of expired medications to the appropriate places.
I won't ever be a perfect minimalist. The kid's art table still offers a selection of bottle tops and bread-bag tabs, inviting creative young minds to make recycled masterpieces. And given our commitment to whole foods, I'll always have more than a minimal selection of kitchen stuff.
But I'm not scared to strive for minimalism anymore! I could even take a Be More With Less Mini-Mission.
And responsibly clearing out items we don't use often, never wanted or didn't even know we had has made room for better living.
The marriage of minimalism and green living is imperfect. But at the heart of both paradigms is a desire to live lightly. Here are my five tips for being a green minimalist:
- Acquire only what you need. And choose used before new.
- Buy the best your budget permits. Broken items are wasteful clutter.
- Clear out unessentials. Less stuff means reduced dust and improved environmental health. Fewer emails allows more time for baking bread.
- Share. The sharing economy connects communities, while cutting back on consumption and clutter.
- Donate. Need I say more?
Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green