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Blurring the lines in the Fight for Our Planet

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good." - Zochen Zeltz

More time, decreased stress, saving money and a healthier planet - could we ask for anything better than that?

We think not, and knowing that this one concept could impact our overall happiness and footprint on the planet, makes it one worth talking about.

We’re talking about minimalism.

And while you’ve probably heard about this movement that celebrates the art of having LESS - you may not have thought about it as a stepping stone in our vision of achieving a sustainable world.

We all know the destruction that fast fashion and overconsumption has caused - the widespread use of toxic chemicals, an ocean filled with microplastics, the devastation to the biodiversity of our ecosystem, pollution and so much more.

The planet has been crying for help, and despite Nui championing that message for 16 years and our sustainable cohorts working to make an impact on our beloved planet, we’ve barely moved the needle towards the change that needs to happen. 

In fact, we might be further away.

While the environmental movement resonates strongly with conscious consumers around the globe, there is a gaping hole between those living a sustainable life and those that are not. But like a bridge over troubled and polluted waters, perhaps minimalism might be just what we needed to get us to our more sustainable future.

Minimalism Vs Sustainability

Intentionally living with less - according to best selling author Marie Kondo, it just may bring you joy.

Otherwise known as minimalism, we rather like the idea of approaching sustainability as a lifestyle choice of intentionally having less - less stress, less debt, less stuff - and only keeping and adding things that bring us joy. 

In fact, sustainable living is living with less.

But it’s actually so much more.

MINIMALISM - Quite simply means, living with less. Less consumption. Less things. Less random stuff you never use.

SUSTAINABLE - As defined by The Good Trade, is defined as “prioritizing the use of natural and renewable resources instead of creating excess waste and depleting resources for future generations.”

One means living with LESS, and the other assigns the priority to people and the planet with our choices while still living with less.

But it’s not so black and white. Few people start with a sustainable halo on their heads, or have a pristine closet only filled with natural fiber, organic clothing. And in fact, sustainable living is not about perfection.

Sustainability, in its truest sense of the word, means, “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” So in order to reach a truly sustainable, pollution free world, we must make it actually sustainable for the greater population.

We all are doing our best with what we know and have. And if our goal is to have a thriving, biodiverse natural world, a flourishing human population, and a healthy climate - there must be a simple and realistic way to reach it.

Somewhere along that path, there is a happy medium that will get us to the goal we all want, remove the hard lines, and make a healthier planet actually sustainable.

Minimalism - The path forward

“Minimalism is not about having less.  It’s about making room for what matters most.”

Clutter is a heavy burden.

In a world where everything is not only at our fingertips, but it is delivered to our front door the same day - overconsumption and excess is an easy trap to fall into.

And it becomes piles of clutter. Closets full of clothes you have never worn, drawers full of things you haven’t touched in years, and an overwhelming amount of unneeded stuff.

And if we take a step back from it all - the mental, financial, social and environmental burdens of unconscious consumption in our lives - it’s a heavy weight to carry around.

This could be why many see the statistics of the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, but don’t see the average 80% of their own wardrobes that go unworn. After all, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of facts and figures, and wonder how not drinking water out of a plastic bottle or not buying fast fashion will make any difference. 

So perhaps living with less is the messaging for the masses that will make our sustainable future attainable. We think it just may be the throughline that may lighten the environmental load, lessen the heavy brain fog from overconsumption of everything, and get more people actually getting a breath of fresh air.

A beginner's guide to living more sustainably through minimalism

Both minimalism and sustainability are not just terms, they are part of an intentional lifestyle. It applies to all areas of your life, but the best place to start is with your own wardrobe. 

The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year. 85% of all textiles end up in the trash. It’s a sad reality of the fast fashion culture we live in. And while we must now work to remove the pollution it has caused, the best way to stop the problem is to not create it in the first place.

Which brings us to minimalism and your closet.

It may seem overwhelming to address the piles of clutter that fill most of our closets. But applying these easy steps, piece by piece, eventually that mountain will become a minimalistic molehill. 

Step one - Removing the excess

With minimalism, there is no magic number of clothing items (or any other items in your life for that matter) to achieve a minimalist wardrobe. The first step is about refining your personal style, understanding what brings you joy, and removing everything that doesn’t fit that profile.

Step two - Donate or sell

Don’t just send your unwanted things to the landfill. Your waste could be someone else's win. Thoughtfully donate, sell, or give it to a friend.

Step three - Celebrate

Become overjoyed with your new minimalist wardrobe, feeling lighter, cleaner, and free from the physical and mental clutter your closet was unknowingly causing.

Step four - Decide what you need to buy with intention

As expected, your new minimalist wardrobe may have some holes. And while the goal is to get rid of stuff, adding new essential basics can actually be a smart move.

After all, basics are timeless, essential, and can help extend the life of your existing pieces by making them more wearable and flexible. And if they are sustainable - organic, natural fiber clothing items, your additions will create a capsule wardrobe you can wear for years, that will never go out of style, last, and even when you were done with it, biodegrade back into the earth, causing no pollution.

Creating a minimalist closet is the first step to understanding your values on minimalism and sustainability as they apply to your individual life. It will help remind you of your own achievable guidelines, lead to greater happiness, greater health for yourself and for the planet. 

And this brings us back to sustainability. 

A new sustainable beginning

“Choose well, buy less, and make it last.”

There are so many benefits of minimalism as a lifestyle.

  • You love everything you have more
  • No clutter is freeing
  • You save money by not constantly feeling the need to buy more stuff
  • You have more time because you’re not spending it trying to accumulate more
And if minimalism is the path to a happier life, sustainability is the next step. Because once one's own wants and needs are satisfied, we are then able to see our place in the lives of others and the planet as a whole.

Ultimately, sustainability must be the ultimate goal. 

According to the UN Environment Program, if the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050, we could need “the equivalent of almost three provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.”

Simply put, we cannot continue to to live a life of overconsumption - polluting our oceans, poisoning our food, animals and farms with toxic chemicals, and releasing unfathomable CO2 emissions into the environment. With climate change threatening to make the earth uninhabitable, our topsoil depleting, and our ocean life being killed off, momentous changes must be made to our lifestyles and our personal choices.

And while it seems overwhelming and is, every great change starts with a first step. And if minimalism can enable us to get more people towards the path of a sustainable world, we’re in.

Simple sustainable living. Because living with less is the path to building a better future, together.
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