“Fuck Eco Minimalism” is a bold statement and might cause quite some misunderstandings. So in this article, I’ll clarify where I am atm and from my unique perspective. Here’s what I think and do and how and why. If something fits for you, cool and if it doesn’t – it doesn’t.
I am no expert in YOU, but I am genuinely interested in your perspective and what we can learn from each other because what I can see from here is tinted and limited.
That’s the theme of the whole page, but sometimes I like to add a little extra reminder. So please reach out and write me a message. I’ll add the learning and the source into the update of the article – of which I hope there will be many. This is how learning works.
Clarifications of the different aspects:
eco, minimalism, perspective, abundance
I love and wholeheartedly support the idea of an environmentally/eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle. Part of this lifestyle is not to keep consuming like before and simply make your consumption eco but to consume significantly less. What I am questioning here, for example, are the many ads telling me to REPLACE what I already have made of plastic with an eco-friendly alternative. Where’s the eco in that? I am asked to create trash so I can keep consuming and look eco friendly? No, thanks.
The whole concept of “eco” is just fine, but in my world, it mostly applies to things that I don’t already have in some form or that I can’t get second hand or borrow if I only use it a few times anyway or build-out of used/ trash materials. In these rare cases, go eco. Toiletpaper, food-/packaging, …
No, I do not get it always right. I buy useless things, end up with single-use plastic, and do not replace toilet paper with a cloth or leaves (yet?) – it’s not about getting everything always right. It’s about the general approach, the attitude. And when I look at what I have, everything is already there in abundance.
This brings me to minimalism.
Why do I think going for minimalism at this point is not for me:
First, I’d create heaps of trash. I doubt the things I use and claim to be just fine are anyone else’s cup of tea as they are mostly a bit broken, fixed, mismatching or just heavily used. I do have many things that have no place in the minimalist world.
– The empty glass jars for conserves
– The old clothes to mend pile from which I get my unique clothes like the new cardigan
– Several piles of “stuff that could come handy at one point, but I do not know for what yet.”
– There’s also a “this is crap, but I’ll use it till it’s fully broken” section.
– And the “odd trash I picked up on the street which might be used for art” pile
Part of the minimalism trend to me is also just consumerism in disguise. It asks me to throw away the old knives with plastic handles the butcher in the village I grew up in gave away as presents on Christmas 1993 to buy this really awesome new knife set. And in the end, I created trash, spend money, and nothing has changed.
Then again, I do value a good knife. Therefore it’s important to treat knives well, and a skill to acquire would be sharpening knives. I bet with that kind of skill I am a very welcome visitor too.
There are also masters of eco minimalism I admire. Check out “Kristina – living in 45sqm” for inspiration. Different situation, different conclusions, really thought through. And this is where it’s important to note who I am and how I live.
Context and perspective for my take on eco minimalism
As the reader, you are looking through the eyes of a mid-forties person, who partially live with their partner and his kids and also renovates a ruin in a Spanish village with very little money, trying to leave only a tiny footprint. Doing all of that and having a classic 32h/week job and being a meditation and MBSR teacher.
So I have little money, little time, but space. Space in the house and outside. That’s important as that might not apply to you and make some of my solutions impractical for you.
My age in the context of Eco Minimalism is important for two reasons:
Part of my abundance is that I have little f**ks to give, and getting to this point was a process and is – for me – connected to age. Impressing people and seeming well off is not on the menu. I wouldn’t know why you shouldn’t like me, but if you don’t, that’s something you need to live with, not me. Like everybody, I fuck up, but generally speaking, I am ok. 😛
The other point about age is that I grew up in the “single-use – capitalism – globalisation – area”, and it took me a long time to wake up. I am sorry it took so long; I am here now.
An with this, we come to the abundance I chose.
Do a little experiment. Write a list of which things you really need in life. Not friends, money, food, shelter, safety, connection, but things. Things you are told every day you should buy and that they’ll make you happy. Not general stuff and not things that get used up.
Clothing, shoes, swimwear, towels, wardrobe, bed, mattress, cutlery, stove, oven, plates, pots, car, cushions, duvet, house, bedsheets, computer, phone, water bottle, (sun)glasses, handbag, headphones, suitcase, tent, sleeping bag, (wine)glasses, tea sets, rice cooker, …
Instead of Eco Minimalism, here’s my eco abundance. I have all of that—plenty of it. I have more cutlery than I can ever lose or break. More plates. Lots of T-shirts. More shoes. More of everything.
Each year for Christmas, my family asks what I want, and I just can’t come up with anything material. I want to be seen, heard, I want to love and be loved back, I want to support and be supported. On top of that, I want to laugh and dance and wonder and care. I want solidarity, trust, justice, dignity, as well as connection and friendship. Most importantly, I want to know that people stand together and help if someone somewhere gets in trouble. I want a lot of “things” – I do not want anything money can buy.
Sure, a lot of money could buy me freedom, but ironically looking at people with that amount of money, I rarely see them free, at ease and with an open heart, so maybe lots of money doesn’t buy you freedom?
How much is enough? How much is abundance?
That’s up to you to decide. You can sit in piles of riches and not have enough. You can also share an old, used car with two others and have enough. Yes, when I claimed that I have a car, that’s what I meant. I have access to a shared car that is owned by someone else. What also comes with that shared car is trust, friendship, mutual support, social connection.
Look at my house. Yes, I own a house. I am very proud of myself that I saved the money to buy a house. It was 45.000€ (no, I did not forget a “0”) and is more of a ruin depending on your expectations of a house. It has water (no hot water), electricity and obviously no heating. That was all I could afford. It’s in a village, and that’s why I need a carshare. To me (and many, many, many people in the world), that’s luxury, abundance. And I am soaking in that abundance.
While it was all I could afford, I could also afford to donate 12% of my income the same year. It’s all in our heads (unless you are poor, then it’s not you – it’s your circumstances, and it’s unlikely that you could do a whole lot about that even if you tried as the system is rigged against you and we need to change the system)
But how about the pool?
I do not have my own pool. The village has a pool for everybody. The entrance fee is 1.50€ if I remember correctly.
I had a pool once and a terrible relationship with my partner at the time, myself and the world. I do not miss that pool. The good thing here is that I really get to compare between a house that was 2.500€ in rent a month and my house. 2.500€, that’s more than I make each month.
So this could have been luxurious, but it didn’t give me what I was craving: freedom, growth, connection, community, friendship, support. The truth is that I was quite miserable in fancy surroundings. I didn’t pay with money but joy and happiness – with the essence of whom I really am.
Here I am today, choosing abundance, enjoying abundance, living in abundance, aware of all I have and with much less comlapints and worries.
One limited resource that I still sell more of than I am comfortable with is my time – essentially, my life.
This is only the beginning.