The Minimalist Challenge

minimalist tree decoration
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.

winter branch

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.

dog running through snow

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.

stairs to beach

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.

reeds and water

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s Travel Theme:  Minimalist.


About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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26 Responses to The Minimalist Challenge

  1. glendanp says:

    Reblogged this on Yarn Around My World and commented:
    Beautiful post with great ideas!


  2. Love your blog. I also took some steps to minimalist living last four years and greatly enjoy the results!!


    • Good to hear from you, Darshana. I just ordered the book Zero Waste which I mentioned in this post. So that will be another layer I am adding this year…Maybe you want to share some of your own experiences at some point, perhaps thru your blog?


  3. I’m definitely in on this one, Annette. What a great idea for the new year.


  4. Aggie says:

    Wow – I hope that minimalism is truly chic now, and will remain so. Very busy, but will attempt to post and see if I can add to your good list. Also, I must add that the photos, particularly of the dog and the lake, are stunning. Also, have you posted about your solar system? This is something we haven’t yet established for ourselves.


    • Hi Aggie – not sure how widespread the concept (and, therefore, understanding of minimalism) is at this time. But I see it popping up quite a bit. I agree with you, let’s hope it’s here to stay. People are so creative and find so many unique ways to adapt an idea…I haven’t written about the solar system because I’m afraid it’s way too technical for this particular blog concept. But I’ll think about your suggestion. Happy you enjoyed the pics and the idea – make it work for you in a way that it eases your life rather than add complexity to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I grew up in a “waste not, want not” household and later on realized just how “green” of an environment my mother created operating so frugally. The whole world of paper and plastic was as foreign to me as was possible, I think, and I do my best to carry that forward in my own life. But I’m sure there are things I could do to leave a smaller footprint. I need to think about that one…..


  6. randee says:

    No action is too small. That is what I will take away from this, that is what I will remember when I’m wondering if this or that little decision really matters.


  7. Pretty bold challenge, but I like the concept. We’re nowhere near your level, but have been working steadily on these things for a number of years. After reducing our kilowatt hours consumption by 50% over a 6-year period, last year we traded in a gasoline only car for a Volt. Our gasoline consumption is down by about 40%, (we still have one gas-only car) but our electric consumption has bumped back up a bit (to charge the car batteries). But overall, the downward trend in carbon consumption continues. Your challenge reminds me that additional tactics are available to us. Thanks!


    • It seems like you have been consciously looking at your own carbon footprint and working to reduce it for a number of years. Congratulations! Gas and transportation is a biggie for us because we are so far away from “civilization.” It’s impossible to ride to the nearest grocery store on a bicycle (50 miles over steep mountains). Last time I was in the DC area, I found out about the car rentals that are available on an hourly basis, so that city dwellers don’t even need their own car but can have access to one when they really need it. I really like that idea. Maybe we’ll move away from this incredibly wasteful concept that we have to have one (or two or three) of everything but that we can borrow or lease what we only need once or twice a year.


  8. Pingback: The Minimalist Challenge | Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

  9. As I believe it was Thoreau who said best, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” We have tried to get out of the bad wasteful habit of our Keurig coffee maker, and gone to refillable cups with it or the “old-fashioned” coffeemaker when we’re drinking multiple cups. And I am also getting better about remembering to bring the reusable bags to the supermarket and other shopping tasks — or saying, no thanks, I don’t need a bag. We have purchased a “share” of produce from an area farmer in the summer for fresh veggies through summer and early fall. The little things add up …. great post and inspiration to keep striving to do more.


    • Hi Kat – yes, “The little things add up” – thanks for doing your share in this process which is really about becoming aware of learned patterns that no longer serve us or the planet; and then training ourselves to step into new (less wasteful, less polluting) patterns of being in the world; one step, one action at a time.


  10. This is am empowering challenge Annette… definitely a movement the earth needs. I think it was the Dalai Lama who said, “if you thinks that small things don’t make a difference, think of a mosquito!” Count me in…. 🙂


  11. Excellent post, Annette. So much wisdom and food for thought here.


  12. Great idea! Thanks for the link to this post.


  13. Pingback: Minimalism Update #1 | The Beauty Along the Road

  14. Great idea! As it so happens I have done this challenge this year for myself. I am getting rid of the old and making room for the new. Getting rid of clutter and making the environment more peaceful. My biggest question is: i have a daughter not living with me, 21, whom I have tons of Junk to give her so like when she has kids she might want these things…do I keep it for her? Or do I just get rid of everything?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My daughter is somewhat older than yours. There are certain things I want to hold on to, like photos and a few things she made for me as gifts. The rest, I gave to her so she can decide what to do with it.
      Congratulations on the de-cluttering. It’s amazing how much stuff accumulates over the years….


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