Ecology: How Minimalism and Sustainable Lifestyles Co-Exist

Minimalism is a simple, waste-less lifestyle

white kitchen with a few caps and bowls.
Photo by @jorgendejorge on Instagram

First of all, what is minimalism? One of the famous influencers, The Minimalists described:

“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear, worry, overwhelming. And from guilt, depression, the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

They stated that minimalism is a way to follow people’s own happiness. By saying, “Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself.” It’s a lifestyle that leads people to question what things value to their lives. Furthermore, it’s a lifestyle that helps people re-channel their priorities towards their relationships and life experiences. And endeavors to be away from unsustainable consumption.

Minimalism is the modern answer to climate change. The lack of control over the growing capitalist system drives modern society. With several generations to consume as much as we want.

In 2008, a study said 335 diseases appeared between 1960 and 2004. And at least 60% of them come from wildlife. It also described that these diseases are connected to environmental change and human lifestyle.

Even though the products are certified eco-friendly, they have negative impacts on the environment in some ways. For instance, the items we consume will require natural resources. The package or delivery process. By choosing to have fewer items, we can reduce the negative impact of all of these processes. We can’t buy a sustainable lifestyle, but we can buy fewer products in our lives.

How does minimalism relate to sustainability and the climate crisis?

A big black car is driving in the middle of desert
Photo by @minimalismlife on Instagram

“Sustainability is our most valuable philosophy if we want to maintain our quality of life while preserving the Earth’s ecosystems.”- Minimalist Road

Most of the resources we rely on in our daily life aren’t renewable nor sustainable. Sustainability is a protection and innovation tool. And the answer to preserving the environment and our life.

A minimalist lifestyle will help to reflect on your consuming habits. There are various reasons that people change their lifestyle to a minimalistic way. Those who are looking for more conscious and mindful living. Those who want to disconnect from materialism and consumerism. And those who want to reduce the negative impact on the environment. Especially those people who change their lifestyle for the last reason, they are called the Green Minimalists.

Green Minimalists

Green Minimalists don’t have such a huge difference from normal minimalists. However, they intend to live sustainably rather than seeking inner peace.

Susticity provides a guide on “how to become a green minimalist.”

They described: “Green minimalism offers the freedom to spend more time doing the things you love most. And with the people, you care about, while taking steps to live more simply and sustainably.”

Climate crisis

Minimalism is the modern answer to climate change. The lack of control over the growing capitalist system drives modern society. With several generations to consume as much as we want.

The big industries such as coal, oil, meat, and fast fashion keep ignoring warnings, just to profit more. And these industries keep running mass production, by using natural resources much more than we should use. It is because of uncontrolled consumption.

Despite the efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the climate crisis continues rapidly. According to the Minimalist Road, there are loopholes in these measures.

“For example, only developed countries’ carbon emissions are tracked. However, most of the products we consume are made in developing countries.”

So what is sustainability?

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So how does sustainability link to minimalism? Firstly, let’s get to know about the meaning of sustainable. A non-profit organization in the Netherlands called Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)defines sustainability. By saying it’s built on “a thriving global community that lifts humanity and enhances the resources on which all life depends.”

According to a Permaculture Research Institute(PRI), sustainability means “the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain ecological balance.” There are three concepts: Environmental Protection, Social Development, and Economic Development.

Environment protection

One of the sustainability’s goals is to protect the environment by managing resources and finding alternatives. The purpose is to reduce the negative impact on ecosystems. PRI described:

“Environmental protection entails examining how our use of the environment affects it, and how we can ensure that negative effects are minimized and behaviors that positively impact the environment are emphasized.”

Social development

Another goal is to spread the definition and importance of sustainability. It is a significant step to create a sustainable world.

“Ensuring that human beings have access to basic resources, that their health is being protected, and that they enjoy a good quality of life within a sustainable environment is critical.” – PRI

Economic development

And lastly, economic development is necessary to succeed in a sustainable society. To convince individuals, communities, and organizations to invest their resources, there must be long-term advantages.

Environmental Science says “sustainability attempts to bridge social science with civic engineering and environmental science with the technology of the future.”

Overconsumption and consumer culture

Many beauty products are lined up correctly.
Photo by @me.mypores.and.eyes on Instagram

Consumerism is a serious contributor to climate change for two main reasons. First, mass production and overconsumption need a lot of resources. And second, the transportation of items from one country to another will add to carbon emissions.

Dr, Kelly Miller, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University explained:

“Alongside population growth, overconsumption is one of the primary causes of the environmental issues that we are experiencing globally. Our consumption of the earth’s natural resources is also growing: it’s tripled in the last 40 years or so.”

It’s important to think about what we consume, to address the connection between climate change and overconsumption. Such as what we eat, how much we travel, and how much we buy.

“Consumerism is a huge contributor to climate change, responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Consumers purchasing goods manufactured all over the world means that a lot of transportation is needed to get them to the right place.”-The Environmental Magazine

According to a study, the products we consume are responsible for 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

When people buy something, the items sometimes get transported overseas. It will cost more energy and produce more greenhouse gases. And these items have a short life before they get thrown away.

Consumer culture

Green tumble addressed consumer culture in one of their articles:

“A consumer culture that prioritizes GDP over all other measures of progress does not encourage sustainability. Even if such cultures claim to value the wise use of resources and protecting the environment, these values are often incompatible with an economic philosophy that requires people to buy more and more.”

According to an American television journalist Elizabeth Vargas, “Americans spend more on beauty than on education every year”.

Minimalism asks us to reflect on every purchase we make. If we are spending more money on beauty products than education from our income. There are two ways to think about our consumption. One is to look for the cheapest solution. It is the easier way to get what you want. On the other hand, we could buy more international for-long products. Evaluating things for usability and reusability. One high-quality t-shirt will replace many low-quality t-shirts.

Sustain the Mag described:

“Consumerism is essentially a security blanket we have been carrying since the early twentieth century. We’ve defined our life around consumerism. And making it difficult to discard.”

Food industries

Many green, yellow vegetables and fruits in the eco-bag
Photo by @guidemeglow on Instagram

The need for food increases as the population grows. Foor production is one of the main reasons for climate change. The Minimalist Road says the industry is responsible for one-quarter, 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. They also stated that “animals raised for meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood production (livestock) account for a fair share of emissions as well.” Changing the food industry more sustainably means we can reduce water usage and pollution. And more, land to forests, protecting wildlife.

As a consumer, buying less food will help the increase in food waste. Avoid purchasing fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic. Instead, buy them fresh, take an eco-bag to not use a plastic or paper bag. Try to avoid buying products that are not packaged and eco-friendly. Or those that are packaged with extra materials. Because, in the end, to use these foods, what you do is to throw away the packaging.


Another main contributor to climate change is tourism. It helps to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The Minimalist Road explained.

“From air traffic to litter and leaving behind garbage or waste like plastic wrappers and cigarette butts in the surrounding environment. Tourism has become one of the main causes of land pollution, plastic pollution, and cigarette pollution.”

Tourism has also a connection with water pollution and the destruction of marine life. Because of the boating activities such as cruise ships, boat rides on rivers. Land degradation because of hiking activities. Air pollution is due to the increased usage of cars, buses, airplanes, and vehicles. In particular, tourism leads to higher air pollution, since the main source of travel is air travel.

It’s also related to food waste.

“The competitive spirit among restaurants leads to extensive menu choices, which leads to overbuying, overproduction, and, consequently, spoilage.” – Minimalist Road

Fashion industries

The fashion industry is an obvious example that has been growing due to consumerism.

The fast fashion industry is famous for its cheap, trendy, mass production. It’s one of the biggest issues of intersectional environmentalism. It encourages consumers to buy things they don’t even need. And it causes enormous amounts of waste. In 2019, the European Union reported about the environmental impact of the clothing industry. They said that “the amount of clothes bought in the EU has increased 40% in just a few decades because of fast fashion. This increase in consumption results in more waste, more water pollution due to microplastics is and chemicals, and more air pollution due to transportation.”

Half of the garments ended up in landfills with other household garbage but not recycled.

Textile manufacturing caused roughly 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution. 

“Cotton is considered one of the most “thirsty” crops, responsible for 2.6% of the global water use and more than a quarter of the total of pesticides used in the US, which, along with China and India, produce 50% of the cotton of the world.”-Greentumble

Greentumble also mentioned that people throw away an average of 350,000 tonnes of clothing every year in the UK. And in North America, they have 12 million tonnes of textile waste.

Consume less but better

Random vegetables and fruits are on the kitchen counter.
Photo by@optimumwellnessclub on Instagram

The minimalist lifestyle means buying only things that will provide real value for a long time.

When people consume many lower-quality products instead of a few higher-quality ones, they throw away more. Which will lead to producing more pollution and waste. And it’s the core environmental issues that a minimalist lifestyle aims to address.

“Minimalists approach all aspects of their lives from this perspective, choosing carefully to curate a life that makes them as happy as possible.”-Greentumble

Buying fewer but high-quality items will help protect the environment from mass production. And it will lead to reducing the amount of trash in landfills.

However, there is some fear that the minimalist trend might not address the bottom issue with consumerism. Because aesthetic minimalism requires high technology, costs expensive, and a certain level of financial security. It seems not to throw off consumerism. Greentumble addressed consumerism:

“The best version of minimalism would prioritize eco-friendly products, recycling, re-purposing, sharing, and other sustainable practices. In short, it’s about buying better.”

What minimalism contributes to sustainability?

A woman holds her eco-bags, some plants, and reusable water bottle
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To transit to minimalism, we will have some questions ourselves about what we’re about to consume. Such as “why do you need or want it?”, “is it worth your money?” and so on.

These kinds of questions minimalism raises are important. Because these are the first step to contribute to the sustainability process.

Minimalism focuses on the needs and less on the desire by rechanneling priorities. It will lead our lifestyle to less production, less consumerism, and more awareness.

It’s all related to sustainability

Minimalism is on the rise and the demand is growing. Whether it’s for our finances, our healthy lifestyle, or the environment.

Being a minimalist, we’re supposed to buy only what we need and use for the next few years. Because the idea is to be mindful. On the other hand, being a green minimalist, we have to be careful when we consume something. We have to look into if our purchasing is sustainable or not. Green minimalism is more devoted to the environmental cause.

The basic idea of minimalism, either green minimalism, is linked to sustainability. In the end, it focuses on less consumption. Our reduced consumption will help to decrease the mass production and less degradation of natural resources.

Minimalism can acknowledge people by being a tool to stop negative impacts. That has been done to the planet.


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