Can you be a minimalist in all aspects of life? Including eliminating and reducing all waste? Including the stuff that goes to landfill?
The not-so-minimalist statistics: An average North American produces a whopping 2 kilograms of trash everyday, which totals to 200 million tonnes a year for the whole of the U.S. 75% of that waste is actually recyclable, yet, only 30% is ACTUALLY recycled.
My question is to consumers... Why there is so much unnecessary stuff in landfill? Is it because of the lack of facilities that allow us to dispose of waste correctly (compost, recycling stations)? The lack of knowledge and conscience consumerism around single-use plastic? Living in a sustainable home, in the Balinese jungle, and being taught at school about sustainable habits, I am aware that these factors greatly influence the effect of our waste on the natural world. Of course, I live as sustainable as possible in Bali because I have the facilities to do so, and I see with my eyes the devastating toll on the water supply and beautiful landscape that single-use plastics and other waste cause. Once I’m in Australia, I am slapped in the face with the reality of the lack of education surrounding the consumption and disposal of waste. I carry on with my habits, but everyone around me seemed to do the opposite. These people can’t see the effects of their consumer habits on the natural world because facilities are designed to keep that hidden, and to keep the disposal organised.
The truth is hidden in the developed world. Consumers are blinded from the consequences of their consumer ways.
My definition of minimalism extends beyond my personal gains of adopting the lifestyle, and instead focusses on how my minimalist life will affect the world around me -- consuming zero waste, and learning how to reconnect and live off the land. This idea was born when researching into alternative eco-friendly lifestyles, and I came across ‘Trash is for Tossers’. Lauren Singer, New Yorker, lives completely trash-free. The only waste she has produced in the past 4 years fits snug in a 16oz. Mason jar. Watching this video gave me a huge sense of awe at the fact ALL her waste was in one jar, especially since my disposal habits would fill up my garbage bin everyday in Australia. Would it be possible to do the same? I was determined to find a solution to eliminate all waste from my life, and learn to find alternatives for unsustainably packaged goods. This quest for zero-waste is important to me as my values are reflecting in my lifestyle choices -- I care about the environment, and fight to stop mindless consumer waste consumption as an activist, so why aren’t I living like that already?
As a personal definition of waste, I include plastics and non-recyclable items that are non-biodegradable. That means I will have to be creative in my recycling efforts, and consume wisely, always keeping in mind the trash produced from my consumption habits.
As part of my documented minimalist journey, I will be recording my weekly waste gain/reductions, and handy zero waste alternatives to waste producing products.
For now, I need to get myself a jar, and forget my mindset of throwing things in the trashcan.