Minimalism in itself covers many spectrums; from finding complete freedom to experiencing life and all it has to offer in a much more authentic way, to owning significantly less stuff. While we could zone in on just the phycological side to minimalism, or the materialistic side, we still wouldn’t be able to cover all of the concepts that it relates to. People become minimalists for many different reasons. They then value themselves more than they value things.
Valuing yourself can be done in many ways, such as taking care of your health, putting relationships and experiences first, and living a simple and stress-free life. With this being said, the lifestyle automatically leads you to have fewer and fewer things. There is a strong focus on consuming only the necessary, and therefore it results in stepping away from materialism and only using quality products. These changes correlate with environmental practices, such as upcycling or even buying second hand (especially considering older products are always much better quality).
An environmentalist, you believe that the environment is the most important cause of our existence. Your views go back to basics and it becomes a social movement to spread awareness and focus on one, necessary thing. Minimalism isn’t really so different, or at least many aspects of it.
Here are some of the ways in which the minimalist lifestyle overlaps with one of someone who would upcycle, therefore proving them to be the perfect pair.
A Deep Awareness
To become a minimalist, you have to have a deep awareness of your actions, and how other actions influence you. You must tune into what you are buying, what you are eating, what you are doing. You have to have an awareness of how your actions affect others, and vice versa to maintain a simple life, with no complex emotions. Becoming a minimalist isn’t just taking into account the materialistic side – it actually affects many core aspects of your life.
Taking into account your spending habits, your dietary habits, your consumption of energy, gas, electricity, etc. minimalists tend to correlate highly with environments. Generally, they tend to eat simpler. This means eating whole foods without much processing – which in turn, values the environment and the planet.
A minimalist will put more emphasis on experiences, rather than things. Spending time on experiences, such as hiking or running helps lower the carbon footprint, rather than partaking in activities that influence materialism or spending. This could also be applied to your everyday commute. Maybe the daily rush hour and monthly car payments create more stress in your life.
A minimalist’s approach would be to take public transport which is a much more relaxing ride, where they then can read or meditate on the bus or train. An environmentalist would switch to public transport because they want to create less fossil fuel in their day-to-day life. Although the reasoning may be different, the daily activities of both beliefs are based on a deep awareness for changing the small things in your everyday life.
Having Less, But It Meaning More
Talking about the small things, they really do make a difference. Buying without the intent of using a product for it’s expected lifetime is a concept that is happening more and more. As a minimalist or an environmentalist, using products until they break or are worn out, and even going the extra step to re-purpose it or reuse it is purposeful, and/or sufficient for them and their beliefs.
The problem that is arising more and more in today’s market is buying items not of quality. For example, if you buy a jacket thinking that it will last you throughout the season, only to realize that it really wasn’t that warm, and the zipper sometimes comes undone, you’ll need to then buy another one. This creates more unnecessary waste, which is then harmful for the environment.
Buying things of real quality reverses this effect, considering they are made with quality materials that last. Let’s say you’ve used a jacket for 5 years and now you think that you want something fresh (and less worn out). Repurposing this jacket in a different way such as making it a pillow cover, or a messenger bag will eliminate the waste that this jacket would have created, and make it more meaningful considering it has 5 years of memories imprinted on it.
But wait – what exactly is upcycling??
It is exactly that. By definition, it means to reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. So, not only are you minimizing your consumption of things, but you’re also increasing their value to you. The reason why minimalists could easily adapt this concept is that it does not only cover fashion or home decor.
There are many ways to upcycle, such as:
- Using ladders as shelves
- Using old books as shelves
- Using old buckets as lights
- Using wine bottles as a lamp, or a vase
- Using picture frames as serving trays
- Using doors and window frames as furniture
- Using materials from clothing to make pillows, lamp covers, etc.
I think you get the point….
Amongst the many ways, you can get creative upcycling, by doing so it actually adds to a movement!
Over To You
As of March 2017, 21% of people from the United States stated that they regularly upcycled used materials. This shows that the trend is catching on, just as minimalism did – and for good reasons. But, how can you start? Start with decluttering. Get rid of the things in your home that cause clutter and that you do not use. See if you can re-use them in some type of way. What about a sewing project with some old clothes? Or creating more space in your house by making shelves or hooks with another material? Narrowing down on what you can create, in addition to actually making a project and creating it is an experience in itself. Besides, who said minimalist home decor needs to be boring? Upcycling is a great way to save the environment and create interesting, more meaningful areas in your home or uses out of sentimental objects. It’s essentially the definition of taking less and making it mean more.