Can minimalism and living more zero waste help you?

Amanda who you may remember from our zero waste interview has written an amazing guest blog for us, relaying how minimalism helps her not only cope with her physical symptoms of MS but enhances her mental well-being too.

Amanda also known as @small_sustainable_steps

How minimalism helps me with my M.S.

Having a minimalist mindset, has helped me manage my multiple sclerosis symptoms for many years now. I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 and it affects every part of my life, but particularly my mobility and energy levels. I live most days with chronic fatigue; resting can help, but it never really takes the exhaustion away.

So what is minimalism?

It’s a concept by which you only live with only what you need, or love. You only have in your life what brings value to you, and get rid of anything that doesn’t. For me it’s meant I focus now, on the experience of my life, rather than the things in my life. What energy I have is no longer spent on acquiring things, but living the best life I can.

I started living this way three years ago now, after a period of extreme stress. I knew that stress wasn’t going away, and my circumstances weren’t going to change dramatically, so I looked at what I could change to improve my situation, and that was my home. Over the years, as a family we had accumulated so much stuff, we had a cellar full to the ceiling, of things we hadn’t used in years, and so many cupboards and drawers, full to the brim. At that time I didn’t really know about minimalism, but I did know I was overwhelmed by my ‘stuff’.

With everything having a place, there’s far less stress

Once I knew I wanted to shed the excess, I started the very next day, I opened a cupboard and removed several bags of stuff. Things that I can’t even remember now, and donated it all. With every item that I’ve let go of, I’ve felt a little bit lighter. I’ve only ever been able to do short bursts, because of my depleted energy levels, so it’s taken some time, but I’m now at a level, where my home is very manageable.

How has minimalism helped?

There are so many benefits, but I will just concentrate on three of the most significant for me.

Reduced Stress Levels

MS and stress aren’t good companions. When I’m stressed, my symptoms become increasingly severe. My home feels much calmer now it has less stuff in it, and therefore I’m less stressed. I am less stressed because I am no longer struggling to find things, everything in my home has a designated place. My home feels calmer because I have less clutter, and more space, having let go not only of so much stuff, but also the storage furniture, used to store the stuff. I am less stressed because my home in general, is now much easier to manage.

minimalist home society zero glasgow
Being minimalist doesn’t mean having nothing, but living intentionally and having only that which you love or truly need

Managing my energy levels more effectively 

It now takes no longer than 10 minutes to tidy the whole house. We have less possessions, so therefore less to tidy away. Cleaning too, takes much less time, as I’ve fewer things to move, in order to clean. When you are energy poor, even the smallest of tasks can feel too much.

By simplifying your home, you automatically simplify those tasks. By only having a few items of clothing, it makes decisions fatigue, on what to wear non existent , as well as making accessing clothes easier. Only having the things you need in your kitchen cupboards, for example, means mealtimes are significantly easier, as you don’t have to negotiate your way around your shelves, cupboards etc.

Less hassle when cleaning up, yes please!

More disposable income

Anyone living with a condition, or disability, that prevents them from working, will know how demoralising this can be. Unfortunately we live in a society that puts no value on disabled people, and a government that doesn’t understand our needs, or care. As a family, we now have to live on much less, and also that income is not reliable. By adopting a minimalist mindset, I no longer consume like I did before, and more importantly, I no longer desire too. I have everything I need, and I now only make new purchases, to replace old or broken items. We no longer waste money like we did, we are mindful of our income, and by careful budgeting, we make our money go further.

These are just a few ways minimalism, has helped me manage my life, with a chronic medical condition. I could add to this, as there’s are so many others too. I do however believe, adopting a life more focused on experience, rather than things, would benefit everyone, regardless of what challenges they have in life.

Amanda – Small Sustainable Steps

{All images owned and used with permission by @small_sustainable_steps }

How does minimalism work with zero waste?

While minimalism could be regarded as just chucking out everything you don’t need, it’s not and we’ve got an amazing blog from The Tidy Life Project coming up very soon with regards to ethical decluttering – that is, minimising and decluttering your home, without producing the waste.

While zero waste can sometimes look like hoarding to some, keeping everything in case you can reuse it, and while this is good practice for some items, you should remember – Refuse.

Refusing is top of the hierarchy of zero waste and if we refuse items we simply don’t need then not only are you reducing your resource consumption and carbon footprint (zero waste), but you’re also not cluttering your home and your life with junk you don’t need (minimalism).

Are you living minimalistic and zero waste?

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