A gray couch in a minimalist living room with a lamp.

5 Tips for Minimalist Living

Time to take your Marie Kondo-ing to the next level. The latest binge-worthy Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, has viewers in fits and starts of decluttering. Secondhand shops say they’re swamped with donations. I could barely get through the doors of several consignment shops in my city before being turned away, with an apologetic ‘we’re not taking anything, we have too much stuff!’

To the un-initiated, Marie Kondo’s best-selling 2012 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, imparts simple advice to keep your home tidy. Namely, everything we own should ‘spark joy’ and if it doesn’t it’s time to get rid of it. According to Kondo, joy is subjective, which is why her tidying advice has global mass appeal. Fond of your old football jersey or can’t part with that chipped vase – then don’t. Hang on to the things that give you all the feels, but whatever doesn’t is out. Clearing our flats or homes is meant to make space for other, more important things like family and friends.

So, after the maniacal decluttering is over and the dust is settled in our freshly tidied wardrobes, how can we continue to keep the piles of stuff at bay?

1. Take a trip to your local library

Remember me? Well, I’m not just for books anymore.  Save the new space on your shelves, plus a fair amount of money by dropping by. The library is sure to spark joy for any blossoming minimalist. Books, films, newspapers magazines, music, video games – all yours for the taking – and more importantly the giving back.

Don’t forget the amazing selection of electronic material too– you can download e-books, audiobooks, films and magazines without even leaving the comfort of your newly tidied home. Find out more about the libraries in your local area here.

5 Tips for Minimalist Living - Zero Waste Nest

2. If you are clothes shopping, live by the 30-wears rule

It might be hard to turn away from the never-ending cycles of fast fashion, but how much of our wardrobes are we actually wearing? Plus, as unsustainable manufacturing practices pollute our environment and unfair labour practices put workers lives at risk, the true cost of fashion is more than the price tag. As we wake up to the environmental and social challenges of the fashion industry, sustainability advocate, Livia Firth, argues “we can’t continue to demand change until we challenge the pace of thoughtless consumption which the fast fashion brands have dictated to us.”

Firth’s advice is a variant of the buy less, buy better concept and her recommendation is simple. When shopping ask yourself “will I wear this thirty times?” If yes, then go for it. If no, and you’ll be surprised by how many things you say no to, then enjoy saving your money and closet space.

3. And while we’re on rules, embrace the one-minute rule

Piles of stuff are a sure-fire way to kill any budding minimalist’s hopes. Those dreamy whitewashed rooms dotted with healthy potted plants certainly don’t have stacks of kids toys or papers piling up. But, seriously do these people own anything and if so, where is it?

Following Kondo’s queue, make sure everything in your home has a place. Bills, toys, jackets, and tools should all have their respective cupboards, baskets, cases and hooks. Then it’s time to apply the one-minute rule. First popularized by happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, the one-minute rule suggests taking care of any task that requires less than a minute of your time on the spot. So, drying the dishes in the rack and putting them away, paying the bill you just got and recycling the letter, you get the gist. If it takes less than sixty seconds than do it without delay. Suddenly those piles will be a thing of the past.

5 Tips for Minimalist Living - Zero Waste Nest

4. Just say no to plastic food packaging

One thing definitely not sparking joy in anyone’s home is all the disposable plastic packaging covering the food we buy. While it might be out of sight out of mind once it hits the bin – sadly, most food packaging will never get recycled. Considering some of these plastics can take up to 450 years to decompose – they hardly fall into the minimalist living category. 

Try buying loose produce at the supermarket. You can bring your own mesh bags to refill again and again. Also, check the bulk aisle, they’re becoming more common and food here is usually cheaper than its prepackaged counterpart. If there’s a farmer’s market in your area then go – and bring your own carrier bags or baskets. If you live farther afield, how about subscribing to a local food delivery or farm scheme. These models are increasing in popularity so there are lots of different types to choose from; local farmsimperfect produce (US) and wonky veg (UK) are all popular, plastic-free choices.

5. Start saving

Yup, the age-old and super-boring tip that can escape no minimalist’s list. But, now with fun apps and software to help keep better track of your money and save. If you have digital banking, check whether you’re able to get an overview report of what you’re spending on, than make sure it aligns with your aims.

Free apps like Digit and Quapital allow you to set up savings goals and rules – like saying no to impulse purchases that will eventually become clutter. Once you’ve got a handle on your spending, try setting goals based on things like high-quality items that will last or new experiences.

Image Credit: Becca Tapert, Paul Hanaoka, Sarah Dorweiler, Priscilla Du Preez, Brooke Lark— thank you.