Today we are talking about the big ‘M’ word, which actually refers to less. Less impact, less ‘stuff’, less stress, less mental and physical clutter, less possessions holding us back, and down – Minimalism. The more we looked into Minimalism and what it really means to embrace this philosophy and truly live a minimalistic lifestyle, we realised how connected it is to the conscious living movement. Treading lightly. What we stand for.
According to The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus: “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
But what does it mean to be a minimalist, or – at least – how do we start incorporating the ideals of Minimalism into our everyday lives? This movement has been dismissed as a passing fad, an extremist way of living and being that is, for most, an unattainable goal. And restrictive. The irony is that what looks so restrictive from the outside, may be exactly where we’ll find the “real freedom” referred to above, what we all inherently crave.
And no one is expecting you to relinquish all your worldly possessions – a very small minority might choose to live this way, but it is not realistic for most! Don’t let that become a deterrent from taking small steps, over time, towards living a life that is more conscious, more mindful and more meaningful, with less negative impact on the earth. So you see? Less really does equal more!
A few excellent reasons to embrace Minimalism from The Minimalists:
“Reclaim your time
Live in the moment
Create more, consume less
Focus on our health
Contribute beyond ourselves
Discover purpose in our lives”
And there are many more!
Now, onto 5 simple ways we can start living a more minimalistic lifestyle – for ourselves, our communities, future generations and our Mother Earth. After all, we are all one and our individual actions do certainly affect the whole.
Only keep the things that add value to your life
Go through everything you own – you can do this over time, it can take a while! – and ask yourself with each item, ‘does this add real value to my life’? Of course there may be some things from the past, old photos from your childhood for example, that you’d like to keep – why not.? But if you are really honest with yourself, you will find that much of what you own you are only holding onto because you have assigned meaning to it that it doesn’t deserve. It may be a status symbol or feel like an extension of you, maybe you’re trying to fill a void, but it is actually taking up space in your life you could be clearing for relationships, passion projects, etc. And then, recycle that ‘stuff’ by checking who in your circle needs those particular things (perhaps it could add value to their lives), or simply donate them! There are PLENTY of people in need, and by giving things away rather than buying new things to donate, you will be decreasing your impact (producing new things creates more pollution and waste and is totally unnecessary!).
Buy less things, with more uses
And by this, we are obviously referring to things that are eco-friendly and as natural as possible. We’ve even put together 10 essential items you should have on your shopping list to minimise your impact; each is green and has many benefits and uses! For example, why do you need many products for your body when one will do? African black soap is a moisturising and detoxifying soap that you can not only use on your body, but also your face and as a shampoo – one ingredient for several uses, takes up little space and lasts up to two months! Another example is salt – you can use this to make your own laundry powder, to wash your dishes, to clean jewellery, as a preservative and on your food! And what about Baobab oil – not only can you use it on your face as an excellent moisturiser, you can also use it on your hair as a conditioner and as a base for homemade perfume. All of the above are produced and found in Africa, which means your ecological footprint is less, and you are helping sustain rural communities rather than contributing towards keeping those with too many things richer!
Use less natural resources
You’d need to be living under a rock not to notice how the earth’s resources are running out. With the arrival of Earth Overshoot Day on 2nd August, there is a more urgent need than ever for us to become mindful of what we use and make that go as far as possible. In Cape Town in particular at the moment, we are experiencing a serious drought! But if we use less and make what we use go as far as possible, we can minimise our impact. Try putting a bucket under your showerhead while waiting for the water to heat up and using that same water to flush your toilet or wash your dishes. Also, take shorter showers – is it really necessary to stand there for 20 minutes, when 3 minutes is all you need to get clean? Walk or cycle where possible rather than driving. Use a hot water bottle to get warm on those winter nights instead of leaving the heater on. Eat less and add nutrient dense African superfoods in powder form, rather than buying many ingredients that will amount to the same nutritional value!
Create less waste
There are many ways of doing this. Eliminate the need for single use plastic by buying reusable eco-friendly carrier bags to carry your shopping in, refusing plastic straws and bringing your own reusable cutlery out with you so you don’t have to use the plastic alternatives! Recycle all your recyclable waste, and make your own compost with your organic trimmings that can be used in your own garden, or a community garden! Invest in a Menstrual Cup that will last you years, creates no waste, is eco-friendly and sustainable
Lastly, help your loved ones and those in your community awaken to the benefits of Minimalism and the importance of treading more lightly, now more than ever as our planet Earth is in crisis! Be a living example and inspire others to move towards a way of life that can only benefit them and our home. Provide support to those who aren’t sure how, even if they really want to make a positive change. BE THE CHANGE!Go Back