The world is facing a crisis. If we keep wasting resources at our going rate, our home will soon be covered in trash. It’s already happening in some areas of the world, with people in some third world countries building their homes on top of active landfills. This year alone, the world will generate 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage—about the weight of 7,000 Empire State Buildings. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of that waste is generated by the world’s wealthiest nations. Access to money means that we have the means to purchase products that become waste, and also that we are protected from our own contributions to this crisis because we have the money to purchase homes away from landfills. It also means that we are in a position to create the most change in our world’s waste management by changing our behavior.
Living a more minimalist lifestyle can cut down significantly on the waste you send to landfills. A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to be a life of deprivation: it can be as full and fulfilling as the life of your average consumer (while often costing significantly less). Here are some quick, easy tips to living a more minimalist lifestyle without feeling as if you’re changing your lifestyle much at all.
When Purchasing, Buy High-Quality
Part of living a minimalist lifestyle involves cutting down on the amount that you purchase unnecessary items. However, it’s unrealistic to expect you not to buy anything at all. That’s why I focus on Buy-It-For-Life Items. BIFL items are high-quality items that will last a lot longer than their more disposable counterparts. While the initial investment is often higher for these items, the long-term benefit is often worth it.
Here’s an example: a nice razor costs between $30-$130. In comparison, disposable razors may only cost a few dollars. However, that same nice razor will last you years, whereas the disposable razor has to be replaced every few days. Assuming you’re spending $5 on each disposable razor and you trade out your disposable razors every three days, you’ll have made up the cost of a $50 razor within a month. The next several months after that, the $50 razor becomes an investment. Simultaneously, you’re cutting down on the plastic you’re sending to landfills. It’s a classic win-win situation.
Waste Not, Want Not
If your goal is to cut down on waste, you have to focus on not wasting the things you have. Almost half of what ends up in our landfills is food. While that may not seem bad—after all, food is biodegradable—it means that we are wasting resources growing food that we don’t need and shipping it to areas that already have plenty.
Be intentional with your grocery shopping to cut down on food waste. Save leftovers and reheat them for lunch or have a leftovers night. It will cut down on the amount of money you’re spending on food and also cut down on the waste you produce.
Upcycle and Hand-Me-Down
Hand-me-down isn’t a bad word. If you have high-quality furniture in your house that you don’t want any more, consider either upcycling it into an item that you have a use for or handing it down to someone else who could use it. Young couples are a great location to hand good, but used, furniture down to. They may not be able to afford furniture of the same craftsmanship, so if the only reason you’re getting rid of furniture is that it no longer matches your décor, it’s a really good opportunity to help out someone else who may have a use for your things.