Can Minimalism make you happier AND reduce your carbon emissions?
Written by Terri Witherden
Minimalism is a lifestyle choice that is continuously gaining popularity in the modern world. As some of us become more conscious about where we buy our commodities and who from, we can also begin to question what we buy and, most importantly, why.
Minimalism isn’t just about owning less stuff, it is about living a life more intentional to your values. By having to audit what comes into your life, you create an environment that helps you flourish, rather than one that feels cluttered and heavy.
Minimalism can be a more conscious way to live and therefore is particularly suited to those looking to live a more sustainable life or reduce their impact on the planet. Minimalism can also help you keep your carbon footprint low! Here's how.
Less stuff = Less carbon
If you’re buying things, chances are they have come a long way to end up in your basket. Manufacturing is now a global operation with many items, especially plastic ones, being manufactured and shipped from the other side of the planet. This adds carbon emissions from global transit onto the items' manufacturing emissions. In fact, according to one study, consumption contributes to 60% of greenhouse gases globally.
Minimalism asks you to look at your consumer habits and really ask the question “Do I need this?”. If all of us questioned our impulse purchases a little more robustly, many of them wouldn’t happen. Reducing your consumption can make a real impact on your personal carbon footprint and save you money and space. It’s a win-win.
Less stuff = Less waste
There is a crucial flaw in the phrase “throw away”: there is no “away”. Whilst the occasional spring clean and declutter session can make us feel lighter and improve our headspace, the continuous turnover of stuff from store to home to landfill is a major contributor to the rise of greenhouse gases. Every piece of plastic ever created still exists, whilst the slow rotting of organic materials in landfill sites slowly leaks methane into the atmosphere. This is one of the most effective gases at trapping heat inside the atmosphere. Not what we want!
Opting to own and purchase less leads to less waste and more initiative around using the things we have. Instead of purchasing for convenience, minimalists tend to purchase for quality because they are investing in their purchase and are intentional about its use. This means the item may well last longer, be repairable if it does break and also is more likely to be upcycled. This adds to the lifecycle of the product and helps keep it out of landfill for longer.
Less stuff = Less hassle
A key concept of a minimalist lifestyle is the pursuit of freedom from consumption. This sounds heavy but essentially living a minimalist lifestyle may improve your overall health and happiness as you are living in a mindful manner in accordance with your personal values.
Minimalism also has a much greater focus on immaterial things which bring us joy, such as relationships, experiences and being in touch with nature. Ultimately living in line with these values, rather than the constant desire for more, can reduce stress and deepen our relationship with the planet as individuals. Once this happens, we’re all much more likely to want to protect the Earth and continue cutting our carbon emissions however we can.
Less Is More
Minimalism centres around the philosophy that less is more and in a lot of ways, we do too! Whilst it can feel extremely daunting to read the daily headlines around climate change and the environment, it only takes a few small habits adopted by the majority to start making a difference. We believe a key way to tackle climate change is to do little and often, rather than wait around for one big event that most likely will never occur.
Tracking your carbon emissions with the Climate App is a small habit that could lead to a big impact on your personal carbon footprint. Using the app, you’ll be able to see the impact of our actions in real time and also compare your journey with and inspire your friends and family.