Simplifying and Downsizing for Sustainability

Since I shared that tiny home case study yesterday, I’ve had an interesting conversation with someone about why they ‘could not possibly live in such a tiny home’. This cuts to the heart of a key issue in sustainability – how much – how many belongings – do we really need.

Most of us in the developed world find that things just tend to accumulate. If we are not careful, we end up surrounded by mountains of belongings – many of which we do not actually need.

Simplifying and downsizing can help us see ‘the wood for the trees’ and get down to what really enriches our lives, and what acts as a kind of anchor – weighing us down. The accumulation of things cannot make us happy. And clutter can actually make our lives more challenging – not easier.

It is very important to remember that as we all think about what we can do and how we can live in a more sustainable way.

I’m not suggesting, of course, that we all take a zero tolerance approach to clutter and discard items en mass. We are not all suited to a minimalist lifestyle. (I, for one, have a large book collection which enriches by life and which I would not be without. I lend books freely and pass those I won’t reread on – but I like to have my library around me, and old books often become ‘old friends’. )

But we can gift, donate, sell, up-cycle and recycle our ways to a more streamlined set of personal belongings, and a more orderly life. What that more ordered life looks like will be different for everyone.

But thinking about simplifying and downsizing our belongings can help us to find a pathway through the sustainability minefield that works for us by making sure we actually know what we already have, appreciate it, and know what we do need, and more importantly don’t need, to buy.

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