My approach to minimalism in 15 steps
15 things that I stopped doing since the last year
Today I’ll be sharing with you my approach to minimalism. As most of my frequent readers probably know by now, I’m a fervent believer in the “less is more” principle and I’ve been working hard on applying it to my daily life. Over the course of this last year, I’ve made a lot of changes in my lifestyle, cutting out a plethora of things that I don’t see much value in, and let me tell you – it’s been quite a journey!
It all started back in April last year, with me fully realising the harm that commercial cleaning products can do. For those of you who are new to the eco-friendly lifestyle and are still unaware of their dangerous side-effects, I suggest that you read my write-up on the topic here. Since then, I’ve not only thrown out the store-bought cleaners from my closet, replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives like lemon, vinegar, homemade alcohol and essential oils, but also worked on removing toxins from my life altogether. I now know how to keep my home sparkly and clean without putting myself, my family, or Mother Nature at risk! And, if you stay with me until the end, I’ll give you a special bonus tip!
My journey to a happier and greener life has also allowed me to truly appreciate the practical benefits of going zero-waste – the benefits of minimalism! Here are some examples:
Like most people, I too used to rely on throw-away kitchen wipes. And, at first glance, they’re great. Affordable, convenient and easy to use, kitchen wipes are a staple in any modern household. They do however end up bloating your carbon footprint and creating a ton of waste for no real reason!
My search for an eco-friendlier alternative has led me to discover the joys of … reusable towel wipes. Yes, plain and simple miniature, napkin-sized towels. I’ve got a couple of sets at home – 15x15cm and 10x10cm, that I use for pretty much any wiping task. And while they do need a bit of looking after – I toss them in the laundry basket after each use – they’re well worth it and a great add-on to my minimalist approach to life!
Like most ladies, I too made extensive use of makeup remover wipes. Cotton wipes, wet wipes – you name it, I had it. Once I decided to cut down on the kitchen wipes, however, I realised that the throw-away makeup wipes need to go as well! Now I’m relying entirely on reusable make-up wipes instead. Again, I’m following the same logic as above. I’m trying to cut down (well, straight-up eliminate, but adjustments take time!) on my usage of throw-away commercial products, and try to achieve minimalism by aiming at sustainability instead.
And, even though reusable wipes have a bigger “up front” cost than a pack of throw-aways, they will (hopefully) last me for years in the future, allowing me to save up on money as well! If you’d like to try changing to reusable make-up removal pads, I’d suggest giving these a shot.
Ah, jewellery. I used to buy jewellery all the time. Every other week, I’d go looking for new shiny rings or necklaces either online or at the local stores. Sometimes, I’d even buy pieces that obviously weren’t real gold or silver. Eventually, I realised that all they’re doing is collecting dust and filling up my jewellery boxes for no reason. So, last year, I took a decision that I’d only buy myself presents for special occasions. I found this really nice silver necklace that I immediately fell in love with and I just had to purchase!
My promise to myself, however, required that this remains my only purchase of this kind for the whole year. And, so far – it has been! If I want something new, I’ll just buy myself a really nice gift once a year and allow myself the time to fully appreciate and enjoy it! I haven’t bought any jewellery since December and I’m really happy with my progress.
If you’re interested in getting started with minimalism, I’d suggest that you give no-plastic a try first.
I bet that you were wondering when plastics would come up in this article. Well, here they are! And should you be one of the unlucky few, still uninitiated in the ways of eco-friendly living, let me tell you something – plastics are bad. Really, really bad. Both for your health and for the environment. For more information on the subject, I’d urge you to give my article on the subject – a quick read. It’s well worth your time, I promise!
Since deciding to go full eco-friendly, I’ve been doing my best to eliminate my plastic consumption. Naturally, this also means that I can’t (or rather – don’t want to) use any plastic water bottles! I’ve replaced the throw-away bottles with reusable ones. I’ve gotten in the habit of never leaving my home without dropping a reusable water bottle in my purse and it’s been very helpful in avoiding plastics.
I have a warning for those of you who are seriously considering picking up the zero-waste lifestyle: Don’t expect the change to happen overnight. Our lifestyles are absolutely riddled with throw-away plastic garbage and removing all of it immediately just can’t happen. You will be offered plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, straws, take-out boxes … the list goes on and on. But don’t let that frustrate you.
At first, it might seem as if everyone around you is doing their best just to shove more plastics into your hands. And the more you try to keep away, the more they push. Believe me, they’re not doing it on purpose! It’s just that everyone is used to the convenience of these items and nobody is expecting you to react negatively. Simply remain calm and mindful.
Following the logic above, I’ve also stopped buying bottled water. Not only does it tend to come in plastic bottles, but it’s also not as good for you as you might originally think. Instead of bottled water, I’ve chosen the minimalist option to opt for water distillers, both at home and in the office. You can check them out here.
Reusable produce bags
When I’d visit a store, I would usually come home carrying at least a couple of plastic bags. Over the course of last year, I’ve slowly made the change from using throw-away plastics to sustainability. Now, I never go out shopping without carrying a couple of my reusable cloth bags with me. Not only are they just as lightweight and convenient, but they’re also much more durable than their plastic counterparts. I use Eco Bravo’s reusable produce bags and would wholeheartedly recommend them to everyone looking to add some eco-friendliness to their life!
Commercial air fresheners are sadly plagued by the very same issues that store-bought cleaning solutions suffer from – they’re ridden with dangerous toxins and chemicals. I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the creation of DIY air fresheners from eco-friendly materials. It’s actually really easy – everyone can do it! I prefer using orange peels (I boil them) and adding a touch of vanilla or cinnamon extracts. They smell absolutely amazing and they’re entirely eco and family-friendly!
That’s a big one. I do live in London after all! Here, tea is a staple of our daily lives. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always liked the idea of having a nice cup of tea in the afternoon. And, when I first came here, I welcomed the local tea habits with open arms. This only got further reinforced by my decision to try and lead a healthier life, as I decided to replace the majority of my coffees with tea.
I have, however, stopped buying tea bags. Now that I know some of them can have traces of plastics which will end up doing more harm than good, it just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. But I still love tea, and so, I’ve turned to homemade tea mixes. Both my mother and my grandmother have a knack for gardening and they’ve been happily supplying me with ingredients. And if I ever run out, I just buy tea in bulk. Not only does this allow me to stay eco-friendlier, but it also helps me save up a bit of money in the long run!
Low in carbs and high in protein, homemade yoghurt is great for your health. Growing up in a Bulgarian village (Bulgaria is famous for its amazing yoghurt), I was already used to eating it regularly. When I was little, my mother and grandmother would always prepare batches of homemade yoghurt and naturally, they passed their knowledge on to me. If you’re unfamiliar with the many benefits of homemade yoghurt or you’re looking for recipes on how to prepare your own batches, have a look at my article on the subject here.
Even though I enjoy reading a lot, I don’t buy paperback books anymore. However, I still believe that everyone who wants to improve their life should strive to read something new every day. I’ve written an extensive article about the importance of reading, which you can check out here.
What is my minimalist approach here? I buy digital books and listen to audiobooks! For my audiobook needs, I rely almost entirely on audible – they’re yet to let me down. Not only are all my books readily accessible from all my devices, but all of them come with no added cost for the environment!
I realise that those of you with young children or pets might disagree, but bear with me here. Even though we all enjoy the idea of giving our loved ones small gifts every now and then, showering them with toys is a bad idea. When presented with new toys too frequently, both children and pets will have the tendency to quickly lose interest and, at that point, you’re just adding pointless clutter to your home.
Not to mention all the harmful habits that you’re encouraging by showing them that they can always get shiny new things for no apparent reason beyond just being cute. Instead of presenting them with a multitude of small (and ultimately pointless) gifts all the time, consider minimalism and try giving them one or two really nice, big gifts for special occasions.
When I decided to go minimalist, I also took a bet that I’d go for an entire year without buying new clothes. Since the 15th of December last year, I haven’t bought any clothes and I feel great! I used to spend a lot of money on clothes and my wardrobe had more outfits than I can count. Shopping was my go-to de-stressing activity. Every time I’d get sad or upset, I’d go on a shopping spree and end up buying tons of stuff that I don’t really need.
My shoe collection was huge and it only kept growing. Eventually, I realised that I have more shoes that I know what to do with – I had tons of brand new pairs that I’d barely worn for the years that I had them. Well, that had to change, and it did. Now, I only have a few pairs that I mix and match with the couple of outfits I use.
Naturally, my shopping sprees also included bags. And I mean heaps of bags. Every time I’d buy a new outfit, it obviously needed a matching bag to go with it. So, my bag collection grew at relatively the same pace. When I took my minimalism oath, this changed as well. I gave away a large portion of my bags and I’m not going to buy any new ones in the foreseeable future. At the moment, I’ve got only a blue, brown, and a black bag, and I’ll only get a new one if they get damaged.
Bonus Tip – Get a Gym Membership!
If you’re having difficulties adjusting to your lifestyle changes, I’ve got just the thing for you – try adding some exercise to your routine! Exercise can be incredibly beneficial both for your physical and mental health. Over the course of the last year, I’ve started regularly exercising at home and taking long walks in the park whenever I had the time to do so. If you, like me, are very busy and feel like you just won’t be able to squeeze in gym trips, I’d suggest that you invest in some home workout equipment! I use TD Fabric Resistance Bands.
I’d like to remind you that you don’t really need a lot of “stuff” to be happy. Life can be really simple with minimalism, yet lose none of its allure. Shopping sprees and other wasteful habits may feel like they’re taking the edge off, but that’s just temporary. Not to mention all the harm our careless consumerism can cause to the environment. Believe me – I’ve been there.
Simplifying your life can help you in more ways than you can imagine! Instead of buying useless items, I’d urge you to save your money and invest them in yourself.
From buying yourself a gym membership or signing up for some courses that can help you in a meaningful way, to buying some audiobooks to replace your paperback ones and replacing everyday household items with greener alternatives, there are countless ways in which you can make a better use of your money!