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Is minimalism a strategy for a sustainable lifestyle?

The Parliament Hill Sustainability Group explored the concept of Minimalism, by watching ‘The Minimalists, Less is Now’

In one of our recent weekly Sustainability Group meetings, we had a discussion on what other concepts can impact a more sustainable lifestyle. As I had recently watched the Netflix documentary ‘The Minimalists, Less is Now’ – I suggested minimalism as a topic.

“The Minimalists, Less is Now” centres around the life experiences of two childhood friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus . As they both make their own separate journeys into the world of work and adulthood, they initially focus on chasing every ‘must have’ item, but still crucially never feel fulfilled by these possessions. Joshua then goes through a significant life-event that makes him question his levels of consumption, which leads him to the discovery of minimalism.

A lot of the principles of minimalism feed into sustainability;

Following the documentary, we asked the Sustainability Group to reflect and answer 6 questions. This is what they had to say…

1) Before the minimalists made their changes, did you notice any similarities between their lifestyles and yours?

Yes, I have lots of random stuff and its stressful to manage
Yes, I usually find happiness from buying things for myself and see it as a treat like they used to. I also like to keep things from special moments as keepsakes for future memories. I don’t normally see it as overconsumption that could be impacting sustainability.

2) What do you think about the two different ways the guys approached to reducing the items in their house?

I really liked the one item a day idea. I feel like I could do this. Also giving things to people in need is a lovely approach. The packing party sounds like someone has way to much time and no kids.
I see both methods would have their merit, but ultimately it depends on your personality type and where the drive for change is coming from. If you have recently lost your job – then a big change would be appealing to help to reset and rethink. In my experience, the gradual removal of items has worked well with my son to ease the transition away from certain toys and to try to get him to understand the value in what he has.

3) What are the benefits of minimalism?

Clear space, clear mind. I always think this when I am feeling overwhelmed, I make sure the space around me is clear and tidy so I can focus. I agree that living in a cluttered environment can effect your mood.
Helping the environment and a clean-living space

4) Do you think minimalism is realistic for everyone? Why not?

To a certain extent yes. We do live in a world of over consumption, so it is easy to keep buying things you think you need and over purchasing. However – with bigger households, sometimes it is more affordable to buy in bulk, especially when you are on a budget. With offers like ‘BOGOF’ and 3 for 2 etc, it can work out better for those types of larger households.
I think it could be if it became a norm and more people knew minimalism isn’t about having nothing but more so, having what is of value and needed daily, rather than keeping it for a “potential” future situation.

5) How is minimalism good for sustainability?

By not over-spending and consuming, it means that there is less waste. I hate not being able to recycle things, so when you have to dispose of things that aren’t recyclable it isn’t a nice feeling.
It can be, in terms of the potential of reducing consumer-driven waste – but we need to be cautious in our move to a sustainable lifestyle, to ensure that we recycle and re-purpose what we have.

6) Would you want to do the challenge at the end of the documentary and why?

Personally, I wouldn’t because I currently live at my parents so it would be hard to get rid of things that I know they would want to keep. I also don’t think the documentary provided a strong enough message to encourage me to make a massive change in my life.
I couldn’t do the packing party I’d like to but I don’t have the time to do this.
No, not at this point in my life, but it is something I will think about.

To find out more on the Sustainability Group and Parliament Hill’s Sustainability journey, please visit; Parliament Hill Sustainability Journey.

You can find out more about The Minimalists on their website; The Minimalists. And watch their directory ‘The Minimalists, Less is Now’ on Netflix here.

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