What is Minimalism? Beginner’s Guide to Living with Less
By Chris Gill
What comes to mind when you hear the term 'minimalism'? Perhaps you imagine someone who has thrown away all their things and is living in a bare room with white walls and a lot of negative space. Or maybe you think of Joshua Becker, Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, who have gained fame by teaching people how to live a more simple life. Or, maybe you think of a specific art form or minimalist architecture.
Well, if you're a novice to the whole concept of living a minimalist approach to life, we're here to show you that it doesn't have to be as extreme as getting rid of all your worldly possessions and sitting on the floor practicing 'Zen'. We take a look at what minimalism actually is, and how to incorporate it into your everyday life by making small and manageable changes..
What is minimalism?
At its core, minimalism is the intentional pursuit of simplifying your life to focus on the things that really make you happy. This minimalist mindset might include reducing your possessions and staying away from consumerism, increasing self-sufficiency and focusing on being happy with what you already have.
Why might you choose to undertake a minimalist lifestyle? Well, there are many reasons. It could be to create a better work-life balance and increase quality time spent with your loved ones. It could be for financial freedom and to reduce your stress. It could literally be that you’ve had enough of living a consumerist lifestyle and want to live life the best way you possibly can.
Whatever the reason, minimalism is becoming more and more of a desirable way of living in our increasingly busy and technology-focused world. So whether you want to go all out and create a minimalist home and lifestyle or simply just dip your toes in the water of living with less, here’s where to get started.
How to live like a minimalist
Like anything, it can be off-putting knowing there’s a strict set of rules as to how to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. But don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone. Wherever you are in your minimalist journey, we’re here to offer some simple tips on how to live a life that’s simpler. Feel free to incorporate none, some or all into your everyday life and see how it makes you feel.
Own fewer things
Before you turn away from your screen saying “but I like my things”, hear us out. We’re not saying to throw away all your possessions (in fact, we highly recommend not throwing away anything at all unless completely necessary). What we’re saying is to take a good look at what you own and figure out how much value it gives you.
For example, let's start with your wardrobe. Sure, you might find a time you'll wear that dress that was trending a couple of years ago, but you might not. Or what about those shoes you bought because they were on sale, but you never got round to wearing them? Or perhaps you wore them once and they nearly crippled you so have since remained at the base of your closet collecting dust. Find out more about developing a minimalist wardrobe or shop timeless essentials for him and her to avoid chasing trends.
The same applies to your kitchen. Do you actually use that juicer you bought years ago? If yes, great! We salute you. It brings you value, so you should keep it. If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to pass it on to someone who actually will use it.
See, that's the great thing when it comes to the removal of everything that distracts you from living your best life. You can find joy out of passing an important thing on to friends, donating them to charity, or even selling them to make back a bit of the money you spent.
Make simpler meals
Minimalist living is not just about getting rid of stuff or material things in your space. It's also about decluttering- or at least changing - old habits and adopting simpler, healthier ways of living. This includes your diet, which at times is something we tend to overcomplicate. We spend so much time trying to keep up with the latest food fads, diets and superfoods, that we forget that - just like with our wardrobes - less is always more.
Focus on creating veggie-heavy meals that are raw, or as close to raw as possible, with minimal seasoning. Of course, it’s fine to add flavor, but instead of going overboard with salt, try spicing up your dishes with turmeric, balsamic vinegar and healthy oils.
Try to cut out - or at least cut back on - sugar. There are so many beneficial reasons for doing this, but one of the best is that once you do, you'll start noticing the natural sweetness in other foods such as cashews, sweet potatoes and fruit.
Make more time for what really matters
Perhaps the most important aspect of living a minimalist lifestyle of all, it’s important to make more time for the things in life that matter most. And when we say ‘things’, we’re actually talking about your loved ones, your passions and your general wellbeing.
By owning fewer things, or more importantly desiring fewer things, you’ll be less attached to money, hopefully meaning you can create a better work-life balance. That doesn’t mean throwing in your nine to five – minimalists still need to eat and pay the bills! But perhaps you can instead focus on finding what it is you’re truly passionate about in life and turning that into a career.
This quote from Joshua Fields Millburn from The Minimalists sums this sentiment up perfectly: “Don’t try to make money – try instead to make something that adds so much value that people want to pay for it.”
Life is short and we only get one shot. Do you really want to look back and think you spent every minute working when you could have been spending it with your family and friends? After all, you can always make more money – you can’t make more time.
So what do you think? Are you tempted to give the minimalist lifestyle a go? Do you fancy incorporating a few of its principles into your daily life or are you willing to go all out minimalist? Perhaps you’re already living a minimalist life and are reaping the rewards? Either way, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Let's finish off with another of our favorite quotes from The Minimalists which sums up the minimalist movement perfectly:
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”
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What is Organic Cotton?
By: Heather Bien We’re all trying to be better stewards of Mother Earth. From recycling to upcycling and eating conscientiously to dressing mindfully, our choices affect the planet. So choosing organic cotton clothing seems like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! As with all sustainable choices, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about why organic cotton might win over conventional cotton—and what makes these two materials different in the first place. Read on if you’re interested in learning about organic cotton and whether it’s the best choice for you and the environment. Conventional cotton Before we get into debating modern cotton farming techniques, let’s get familiar with the plant we’re talking about: cotton. It’s soft, durable, and probably on your body right now. But what else do you really know about cotton? Here are the basics: Cotton comes from the cotton plant – The cotton plant is a warm-season woody perennial shrub from the genus Gossypium and the family Malvaceae. Cotton fabric is made from the plant’s fibrous seed-hair (which is also called a cotton boll). Cotton is one of the top agricultural crops – Traditional cotton is the most widespread and profitable non-food crop in the world. Although the plant is capable of growing in any warm-weather climate, India and China are now the top producers of cotton globally. Cotton is thirsty – A normal cotton plant requires 10 gallons of water to reach peak potential. That doesn’t sound so bad, but multiplying it outward, that means it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just 2.2 pounds of cotton fabric. Pests think it’s delicious – Not only is cotton thirsty, but it’s prone to pest infestations from bollworms, weevils, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and spider mites. In order to combat these common pests, conventional cotton is routinely sprayed with a veritable salad-dressing of pesticides, many of which can remain in the soil and water supply for years afterward. Cotton harvesting requires defoliation – In order to quickly and efficiently harvest cotton, many commercial growers use chemical defoliants to strip the leaves from the cotton plant prior to harvesting the bolls. Like pesticides, these chemicals remain in the environment and on the cotton itself. Is organic cotton better? All of those cotton factoids point pretty compellingly to buying and wearing organic cotton fabric. But first, it’s important to understand what sets this organic alternative apart. Why exactly is “organic” cotton anyway? You might associate the word organic with your healthy fruits and veggies, but it’s not always clear what this term means when it comes to cotton. For many years, there was not a standard definition, but today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require that any cotton product labeled “organic” meet the following criteria: Made with fibers from USDA-certified organic crops Third-party certified (ie., through the Global Organic Textile Standard) under the National Organic Program standards Has a specific percentage of organic material (depending on the crop) But this definition is a little circular, so we need also to define USDA-certified organic crops. According to the USDA, organic crop standards are defined as follows: Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops. These can be supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available. The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited. What is organic cotton? In short, it’s cotton that is farmed according to these practices and certified organic by the USDA. Why should you choose organic cotton? With fewer pesticides, fewer synthetic chemicals, and more thoughtful cultivation practices, organic cotton can certainly offer a more environmentally friendly choice when compared to regular cotton. Is organic cotton sustainable? Here are a few other reasons why organic cotton can be a better alternative for you and the earth: It’s better for our water resources – According to an analysis by the Textile Exchange, producing an organic cotton T-shirt requires 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to a regular cotton T-shirt. Because organic cotton uses less chemicals, its production also releases fewer toxins into our aquatic ecosystems. It’s good for the soil (and our carbon footprint) – According to the Soil Association, the more natural cultivation practices and fewer pesticides used by organic cotton farmers can support healthier soil. That soil, in turn, can absorb more carbon from our atmosphere and help keep the planet healthy. It encourages biodiversity – Multiple studies have shown that organic farming practices can encourage more diversity among the animal species of our planet. Sustainability is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to plant-derived textiles, the ones which help us create a healthier world are always a better alternative. Explore the benefits of bamboo with Boody Whether you choose to purchase conventional or organic cotton clothing, the fact that you are shopping mindfully for yourself is a win for the environment. At Boody, we believe in bringing you quality, comfy, sustainable clothing basics that keep you feeling good about yourself and your personal impact on Mother Earth. From our sleepwear to our loungewear, women’s bamboo shirts to our underwear, sustainable and ethical are our touchstones. Our clothing is made of bamboo viscose, requiring less water than cotton while putting precious oxygen back into the environment. That just feels good, doesn’t it? Explore the bamboo benefits today, with Boody. Sources: Britannica. Cotton. https://www.britannica.com/topic/cotton-fibre-and-plant Cotton. The Story of Cotton - Where Cotton Grows. https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/where.cfm World Wildlife Federation. Cotton. https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton Textile Exchange. Quick Guide to Organic Cotton. https://textileexchange.org/quick-guide-to-organic-cotton Soil Association. What is organic cotton? https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/fashion-textiles/organic-cotton/ USDA. Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/02/29/conservation-and-biological-diversity-organic-production About the Author: Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.