Simple Shifts to Save the Planet – Minimalism is In!

  • Make it cool to reuse & reinvent our wardrobe.
  • Handme downs are the new vintage collection.
  • Make it cool to buy things second-hand.

Another World Environment Day has come and gone. I’m sure we all renewed our vows to recycle but the problem only seems to be getting worse. The population of the world is currently at 7.7B and though growth is slowing, we will have 9.8B people on the planet by 2050 and 11.2B by the year 2100 when the population is expected to plateau.

A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, can be emitted through land clearance and the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.

And humans produce trash; a lot of it. In 1960, Americans produced 2.68lbs per capita and today the average American produces 4.4lbs of trash every day!

Only 34% of this gets recycled every day. As population grows and society’s purchasing power increases, more goods are consumed and even more trash is generated. We are running out of places to dump or hide our trash. Developing nations were once treated as dumping grounds and were paid to take the trash of the 1st World countries. Now, they are better educated as to the ill effects of this deal and are refusing to become the planet’s landfill. Where does this all lead to and what can we as a society and a species do better? The answer seems obvious; generate less waste! But generating less waste means that we consume less.

And therein lies the key to turning things around. Our culture of consumerism and decadence is leading us down a dangerous and unsustainable path. Not only does consumerism affect the planet’s environment, but also our mental and physical health. Our insatiable demand for stuff is leading to clutter around the house, depression of the mind, obesity of the body and maxed-out credit cards.

Consume Less! Yes, it’s easier said than done. We’ve all had the urge to buy that expensive phone or shoe that we see, whether we truly need it or not. And corporations are very skilled at marketing “stuff” to us, and leading us to believe that what is in fact a luxury item, is essential for survival. In a capitalistic economy, it is naïve to expect corporations to advocate less consumerism; after all, they exist to maximize profits and they are not going to do that if people consume less.

“Recyclate” is a raw material that is sent to, and processed in a waste recycling plant or materials recovery facility which will be used to form new products. The material is collected in various methods and delivered to a facility where it undergoes re-manufacturing so that it can be used in the production of new materials or products. For example, plastic bottles that are collected can be re-used and made into plastic pellets, a new product.

I am equally guilty of filling up my 800 square feet room and closet with the latest fashion and shoes and flaunting my fashion choices on social media. But, my concern for my home planet has inspired me to break out of this shopping pattern. I started with a simple change like cutting my shopping time by half which improved my outlook towards life and also improved the health of my wallet as well. I got past my shopping craving with picking up a new routine of yoga and keeping my schedule booked with my hobbies, walks, books, spending more time with family and friends and volunteering,. I have now realized that I was buying from boredom than for a need. When the shopping craving got worse, I tricked my mind with online browsing with a resolve to not check out the items in my cart irrespective of the item or the deal I found.

Not only was I living on a larger footprint, I was encouraging that behavior with my friends and family by complimenting them on their fast fashion. I have consciously shifted to complimenting my friends when they reinvent their closet, shop at resale or wear hand me downs. We need to respect minimalism and make it cool to be a minimalist and live on a smaller footprint and change the perception of people being parsimonious when they follow minimalism and reuse.

A simple search on the web yields many articles and blogs on how to reduce consumerism. Experiment with different techniques and figure out what works best for you. Another way to spread the word is through social media – make it cool to buy things second-hand; wear hand me downs and make it cool to live a minimalist lifestyle. Gamification of such lifestyles will also improve the adoption.

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Sneha Padmanabhan

I am a junior in high school, with a deep interest in environmental conservation. I first became interested in protecting the environment after learning about the BP Oil Spill in 2010. It baffled me on how humans could damage the earth, their home. After learning about the spill I educated myself on the industries and practices that contribute to environmental degradation. Through this I learned how the fashion industry can be damaging to the planet. My final goal is create an environmentally conscious  community. I would like to create a sustainable, and ethically conscious high end fashion and product lines.

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