The accidental minimalist

Earth Day 40While minimalism, green living and voluntary simplicity have become catch phrases for many folks who have never had to do without, many of us find ourselves returning to the “minimalism” of our youth. For me it’s been a happy accident.

I grew up in a house where we re-used ziplocks (the no-frills brand to boot), brown bagged it EVERY day and turned off the lights when we weren’t in the room because we wanted had to keep the electricity bill low. My dad watered his garden with gray water and with the week’s leftovers my mom made stir-fry and fried rice dishes that rivaled anything on The Food Network.

Fast forward 30 years and I’m back to doing many of the same things. Unexpected circumstances over the past year has had me operating on a tight budget and reintroduced me to my inner minimalist.

As I’ve been reading up on just how much stuff we actually consume, I realize that for years I’ve been guilty of  buying into – literally – the “you need (insert product here) to be more loved, liked, adored, attractive, happy, secure (insert word you want to be more of here).  In today’s culture it’s hard not to buy into it. Try an experiment today – Just for a day, be conscious of how many times you’re advertised “at”. From the obvious outlets of commercials on TV and billboards on the way to work, to the more subtle advertising that comes in the form of magazine articles or talk shows announcing the next “must have” product or service, we’re inundated with messages that we NEED more stuff.

At its core these messages have in general, one bottom line, and that is to make money for the companies that produce them. If these companies make this money at the expense of our insecurities, then so be it.  But this insatiable need we’ve been convinced we have to fill is having an increasingly negative impact on the planet and its inhabitants – human and otherwise.

The 41st Earth Day will be celebrated this Friday, April 22nd.  Ironically, it’s only in the past year – my 40th – that I’ve really started trying in earnest to embrace the concept that I must do my part, every day that I am able, to be more socially and environmentally conscious.

Being more conscious doesn’t mean we have to go around making out with trees and eating veggies, lit only by firelight in our handmade repurposed, eco-friendly wood cabins. The big differences come by incorporating little changes into our daily lives. It means learning where our food and products come from and making changes if we don’t like what we learn. It means being aware that some of the clothes we wear and the chocolate  we’ll eat this Easter were made by men and women making pennies a day and children forced into child labor. It then means taking that awareness and doing something about it.

Tomorrow I’ll share some great sites I’ve discovered over the last few months that  help us come closer to making these little changes.  From teaching us how to create our own beautiful DIY designs with things we’ve already got around the house to creating healthy, clean eating meals, these sites have a little something for everyone. And for those whose pastime include shopping, there are even eco-friendly ways to keep doing that.

If you’re discovering your inner, eco-friendly minimalist, share some of  your finds, tips and experiences with us here in the comment section or on our Facebook Fan Page.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb”

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Blogger, self-proclaimed-philosopher, voracious eater and opinion sharer.