It appears that “minimalism” has become the newest chic thing. There are minimalist groups on Facebook, and a number of books and blogs focused on this topic. There is the Tiny House craze, and the minimalist or capsule wardrobe (33 pieces of clothing and shoes for a three-month period). Recently, I came across a book (Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown) written for people who need (or want) to live off $4/day/person (the typical food stamps amount). Her meals are simple to make but look appetizing and healthy. The book is free as a pdf download. There is the Zero Waste movement, living in a manner that produces no waste that needs to be taken to a landfill. The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson tells the story of one family pursuing this lifestyle.
My interpretation of minimalism adapted to my own life situation is this: leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible. This means that I grow a lot of my own food, have a solar-powered house, recycle anything and everything that can have another use, buy used whenever that makes sense, combine errands to minimize gas consumption and air pollution. When my clothes are worn out enough to make me look like a homeless person, I still wear them in the garden until they are totally worn out. You should have seen the last pair of sneakers turned garden shoes before they finally got thrown away!
I enjoy baking my own bread and making meals from scratch. A primary motivating factor for preparing meals myself is the fact that most pre-packaged, processed foods available in the grocery store are not health-enhancing. I intend to live a long, healthy life and the chance of that happening on supermarket foods is really very slim. I like to buy foods that I don’t produce myself from local farmers. This way I know that the food is fresh, in season, mostly organically grown, and hasn’t been transported thousands of miles.
There are so many ways to reduce our excess consumption and, thereby, our carbon footprint. This coming year, I would like to challenge myself to do the following:
1. Whenever I drive somewhere, I’ll take my travel mug with me. I usually fill it with coffee or tea and always take a glass bottle of water with me. If I need a refill from a store, I’ll use my own travel mug instead of accepting a paper/styrofoam cup with a plastic lid. I will remember to do this on at least 3 out of 4 trips (75%) during the first 3 months, then want to remember to do this 100% of the time.
2. I’ll take small cloth bags to the store when I buy produce. This way I don’t have to use the thin plastic bags that are omnipresent in the produce section. I already use cloth grocery bags to avoid the plastic bags at the checkout counter. I will remember to do this on 3 out of 4 shopping trips (75%) during the first 3 months, then want to remember to do this 100% of the time.
I would like to challenge YOU, my reader, to think of at least one action you can adopt in 2015 that will reduce plastic and other throw-away products; that will bring down energy usage; and/or minimize unnecessary consumption of any kind (cable TV? soft drinks? individual-sized packs of anything? trips to the mall for entertainment? plastic utensils for one-time use?).
No action is too small.
Set yourself up for success by setting a clear, measurable, achievable goal.
Any small action repeated over and over again will become a new habit. Imagine one small change multiplied by 365 per year (for yourself). Then imagine 10 or 100 or 100,000 people doing something similar – how quickly we can reduce waste and pollution with just a little bit of awareness each day. Are you game?
No action is too small.
1. If interested, please create your own post entitled: The Minimalist Challenge. Explain to your readers what you are doing and why. Clearly state the action(s) you are challenging yourself to take. Maybe you just want to track an action for a month, instead of an entire year. That’s ok, too. Whatever works for you.
2. Provide a link to this post so others can find it as well.
3. If you’d like to follow this challenge through the year and aren’t already following Beauty Along the Road, you are invited to follow.
I am planning to post a monthly summary not only of my own progress on my two goals but also of other bloggers who have chosen to create their very own minimalist challenge. As the year goes on, I am sure we’ll inspire many more to make small changes in their lives, and, therefore, in all of our lives.
No action is too small.
If you are not a blogger, but feel inspired by this post, consider putting out a challenge on Facebook or other social media. Together, we can make a difference.
This post was inspired by Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Minimalist.