Everyone has pet peeves, but one of mine is when people don’t recycle. I’ve been flatting for 5 years now, and everyone has their own habits. However, in one of my experiences the household would put all their empty wine, beer, shampoo, conditioner, soap bottles, paper, cardboard, fruit tins as well as milk and juice cartons straight into the rubbish bin. Growing up, both my parents recycled and still do, and it’s something I’ve always done. I find it’s a good habit, and it’s one of those things that really tick me if people don’t care about recycling, because we all contribute to the environment.
No one is perfect, but I really do think there are some simple tips that we can live by, in order to be a bit more eco-friendly. In the past, I worked at an organic beauty and skincare company, and I’m currently working for another organic company now. What I love about the company is that they aim to have products that use minimal packaging. It’s great to support brands that strive for a better world, are natural and ethical. I think it’s also good to make a decision to eat less meat. We live in a consumer society where we are constantly told to buy, but the best value is to buy things that are good quality and will last a long time.
1) Drink from your own reusable water bottle. Buying bottled water can really add up, and we are very blessed to walk a few steps to have water come straight out of the tap. If you have a flask for warm and hot beverages, as well as a drink bottle for cool water, you’ll never go back. They are very convenient and are easy to fill up and carry around.
2) Eat less meat and more vegetables. Eating less meat and consuming less dairy also means that you save money. It’s okay to have it from time to time, but meat is not the best for the environment. Meat production results in a significant amount of carbon emissions. It’s easy to replace dairy milk with soy, almond or coconut milk.
3) Recycle and carry your own canvas bag. I tend to bring a backpack and canvas bag, but I’m so guilty with plastic bags, because there are times I end up taking plastic bags to take home to line my rubbish bins. However, I hope someday New Zealand will ban them. Recycling is a habit that you won’t even have to think about it after you just do it.
4) Go second-hand shopping and support ethical brands. Make sure to watch out for green washing, which are brands that are disguised as ethical, but really aren’t. I like to use ecostore for my laundry because they don’t have that strong and unnatural deodorant smell. If you have sensitive skin, organic products tend to be more gentle on the skin.
5) Invest in good quality items that will last a long time. Treasure the things you have. Use your technology until they’re no longer usable. Buy things that are good quality and will last, because then you practice minimising consumption. If you need to throw things away regularly, then this only encourages the amount of rubbish we create in the world.
Photography by Katerina Plotnikova
If we go back in time, I was 14 when I started my first job at a cafe, and this meant taking responsibility for buying some of my own things. As a country girl, we would go into the city 2-4 times a month. I remember feeling satisfied with being able to buy my own clothes that I’d worked for. In my first year of uni in 2013, I would buy several items each month, and at the end of the year they were either left in the wardrobe or only worn 2-3 times. This taught me a lesson on choosing wisely, spending your money on clothing that will last and embracing your personal style. Over the years, I noticed the only pieces of clothing that I never threw away were predominantly my black clothes.
Our wardrobes should be filled with clothing that we will wear and make use of. In the book L’art de la Simplicité, it talks about how the things we own should have a purpose. This is why it’s important to purchase things that are good quality, long lasting and reflects who you are, in order to be useful. Minimalism doesn’t mean that you need to have the style of only wearing black, white and grey, because well, everyone has a different style. It simply means simplifying your life, not just in clothing materials, but in your lifestyle, relationships, mindset and so on. Decluttering is beneficial in the mind as well as our surroundings, as it sets free unnecessary thoughts and allows a clearer mind.
I think it’s important to mention that minimalism doesn’t mean that you only have seven items in your wardrobe, that you wear for each day of the week. It’s a reminder that we don’t need a lot in order to be happy in our lives, and that we should embrace the things we have. Therefore, you create a sense of satisfaction that isn’t attached to materials, and you have an appreciation for what you do have. It gives a sense of cleanliness and keeps your lifestyle simple, creating a space with less stress. Creating a habit of buying things of good quality means you spend wisely and am more thoughtful about what you’ll realistically use or wear for the next several years.
For fashion lovers, you should embrace your personal style, because it means you don’t buy something impulsively or for instant gratification. I remember in my teenage years, I used to buy things that in the end were not worn anymore because they didn’t completely connect with who I am. Now, I tend to buy from secondhand stores, choose more carefully or only purchase things that reflect my style. Minimalism in Fashion also ties into our lifestyle and the way we live. We live in a society that often feeds off of our fears and insecurities to make a profit, and unfortunately, we are used to this. However, the materials we own shouldn’t be a reflection of our self-worth.
Minimalism lessened my anxiety in my everyday life and made my lifestyle far more comfortable and far more stress-free. Life felt much more meaningful and enjoyable once I let go of toxic friendships, bad habits, unhealthy thinking and letting go of items that I had an emotional attachment to, but didn’t hold any value or use in my life. In The Minimalists, it says Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s most important things—which actually aren’t things at all.