Category Archives: Minimalism

Colbert’s and Annie Lenerd – The Story of Stuff

Great five minute watch on why reducing consumerism and pollution is great for your soul and the planet.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/evq830/annie-leonard

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Can You Get Rid of 3,650 Things This Year?

JUNK
JUNK (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

I’m an aspiring minimalist, so when I caught this article on Boulder’s Daily Camera about a woman whose goal was to get rid of 3,650 items in the next year, I twittered with excitement. I have big dreams about helping people learn that reducing their stuff, even in this modern lifestyle, is the most freeing experience.

About a year ago, I shared my ideas about minimalism with a friend while sitting at Canon Mine Coffee shop. He told me, quite pointedly, that while my dream was a nice one, it was impossible. He even shook his head when he said it. I love his honesty.

I’m not too naïve to believe that I can change the world overnight, or ever change the world single-handedly, (even though it’s so fun to think about), but that he told me it won’t happen, at all, made me sit up a little straighter with determination. I’m pretty sure he just thought I had to pee. Which I did. But I digress.

I have a way to go in my dreams, so coming across this article about another woman with similar dreams was just plain awesome! It’s a sign that I’m reading my spiritual compass right.

Reducing the stuff we have is a battle we are all trying to win in one way or another. Like Vivienne Palmer, in this article, I too experienced a place in time that brought my possessions down to a car full of clothes, a computer and various odds and ends. While I didn’t lose everything, and mine was a choice I had to make, it felt like I’d lost everything.

But I learned a lot about stuff and what I actually need to survive and be happy. It’s not as much as Westerners believe, not even close.

It’s a great experience for any person that has a heart for social or environmental change because you really get what’s important at an experiential level. You also tend to learn gratitude for things when you do have them. And seriously, cleaning my home is never an issue like it was in my dusty, cluttered past. I will never live in a large house again!

My dream is to do all I can to help push this idea of reducing stuff because of what a beautiful effect it has on a person’s life and the planet. People talk about living those good old days in high school or college, or how refreshing childhood was, but the thing they often forget is that we didn’t have very much stuff back then. We didn’t have a lot to worry about. We had time for what we loved and who we loved.

Now we are big kids that love people, animals and the environment. But who’s got time for that when you’re drowning in a sea of stuff?

I whole-heartedly urge you to read about Vivienne and try your own project at home. Expect to fail a few times, and expect to get over it. We’re all on a path. But trust me, it’s really worth the trouble of figuring out how you’re gonna dig in and do it. In all honesty, it took me four years and a lot of experiences to finally break me down. But those are some of the most vivid memories I have.

At one point, I put a large amount of my stuff out on the corner of the street and just gave it away. It was decent stuff too, not trash items disguised as junk. People in need showed up and I had a particular woman walk over to me, look me straight in the eyes and say, “Thank you.” I still ride on that emotion several years later. The good that comes from reducing never ends. Its part of being in the flow of life, to let things come in while you need them, and let them go back out when you don’t. Its breathing in deep, and exhaling consciously.

So, find role-models like Vivienne and other minimalists or even some certain millionaires who are penny-pinching and material-meticulous enthusiasts. Start reading about them and let them influence your mind for a while. Pretty soon you’ll get the courage to move in this direction with us, if you aren’t already.

Vivienne gave me an inspiring idea that I never thought of before. After my experience with ‘drastic stuff reduction’, it was easy and still is easy for me to let go of things that I don’t need. The hard part for me is sentimental items or the projects I never complete. She has a perfect solution for that, which I’m going to try. Maybe I can post my results.

I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did. Perhaps one day you’ll be inspired enough to take up a project of your own that incorporates reducing consumerism and pollution for our lovely beautiful planet. You’ll amaze people with your triumphs, inspire others by your conviction, and smile daily in your life of freedom after you’ve cut those binds that tie you. That’s how I felt about  Vivienne anyway.

In the meantime, if you’re already a minimalist, or an aspiring minimalist, do you have ideas you could share? I’d really love to hear them!

Love and Peace

Websites You Might Enjoy:

The Minimalists

Zen Habits

Ecological Footprint

And a video about stuff!

Waterkeeper Alliance Video – Let’s Clean Up Our Messes Together

Photo Courtesy of: Quoteseverlasting https://www.flickr.com/photos/quoteseverlasting/8736910852/
Photo Courtesy of: Quoteseverlasting https://www.flickr.com/photos/quoteseverlasting/8736910852/

You can get involved in any organization through money or volunteering, but what we also need is people willing to help the massive pollution problem by changing their lifestyle.

In the beginning of this video, narrator Edward Olmos talks about heroes. We all have this inner want to do something great.  But just like this video indicates, sometimes doing something really great isn’t being famous.  Sometimes doing something really great is just choosing to consistently work on one problem everyday without fail.

If this video inspires you, consider a lifestyle that is minimal. The reason we have so much factory pollution is because the people demand it through what they buy. If you change through effective personal development what you want decreases. You want less, spend less, become happier, and put less of a strain on the environment.

Evaluate the decisions you are making. Get intelligent with your spending and find ways to reduce your consumerism and pollution on this planet. You may only be one person, but when you do something enough times it gains momentum and becomes contagious to others. You will be a hero to all of us for standing brave and making a few sacrifices in your personal life for the sake of others and the environment.

via Edward James Olmos Narrates Waterkeeper Alliance Video – “Around The World” PSA – 2012-2013 – YouTube.

Top 10 Ways To Improve Yourself and the Planet at the Same Time

If you think this is just another long, run-down list of things you’ve heard the same old way before, think again. This is the top 10 things you can do to improve yourself mostly, but just so happens to help others and the planet.

What could be better than solving three problems with one solution? I can’t think of much in when so many things are starting to break down or already have. With ideas from different perspectives, our minds open to new possibilities, which this list aims to do. Let’s not work harder, let’s start working smarter.

Don’t forget to sound off at the end of this list. What new ideas can you come up with that tackle self-improvement, community, and the planet all at the same time? We want to know.

1. A sustainable raw organic diet – it will dramatically improve your health, make you less dependent on medications, cut doctor and food bills. If you buy from Farmer’s Markets you cut packaging waste and pesticide pollution, and support local, organic companies. You also will take part in shifting the economy towards sustainable, ethical companies via supply and demand.

2. Interpersonal Communications – one of the main reasons we have so much conflict with people is our lack of understanding in communication. Endless problems in our world resolve down to poor communication. By improving how you communicate with others, you improve your relationships, your health, and your overall  happiness. We all want better connections with our loved ones. Why not be a leader and help yourself and others communicate in more compassionate ways?

3. Reducing what you buy – In Environmental Science, the three “R’s” refer to recycle, reuse, and reduce. Out of the three “R’s,” reduce is the least used in our efforts towards cleaning up the planet. Western culture, specifically the United States, is known for having both the highest consumer and pollution rate for its population count. On your path to self-improvement, focus on removing useless or negative things spiritually, mentally, and materially. See what negatives you can do without. Anything helps to cut back on what we are doing to the planet.

4. Eco and human friendly buying choices – We have a conundrum going on in the buying world with so many companies driving for what they believe in. Usually you can easily find organic produce, but it’s wrapped in plastic or some other polluting packaging. Or, you can buy eco-friendly packaging that has processed and GMO foods or products that aren’t healthy for the body or environment. Look for companies and Farmer’s Markets that support both pure foods and eco-friendly packaging. They are far and fewer, but the more we give them our money, the more we create supply and demand.

5. Consider the health costs of the diet you have now – You might think that the highly processed diet you’re on now isn’t costing you anything. Many people are living on fast food, restaurant food, and packaged foods at the grocery store. The general attitude is that there is nothing is wrong with it or that its, “my money and my body, and I’m fine.” But consider how much money you are spending on doctors and dentist visits, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs like antacids, cough syrups, pain medicine, vitamin supplements and protein powders, weight loss remedies and programs, exercising programs, nutritionists, books and DVDs.

At the end of the year, you might realize you could have bought a nice vacation somewhere for that price. And that is not counting all the misery you endured, all the pollution you helped put into the environment, and how much money you gave your insurance companies.  The biggest benefit you get from living your life, “however,” is that you don’t have to think about what it’s costing you and how it is making your life less than par. Not really worth it when you can live a healthy, happy life in a beautiful environment that doesn’t cost you anything in the sense of well-being.

6. Minimize your footprint – Everything we buy affects the economy, supply and demand, jobs here and around the world, and of course the environment. Did you know that some cell phones Americans buy support child slavery and poor work conditions in other countries? Of course it would be almost impossible for us to just stop using our cell phones, but do we need to buy a new one every 6 months or even 2 years?

If we treat our belongings better and with more awareness, we don’t need to buy repeat purchases as much. We can still survive if we don’t have the latest version of a phone or computer. It would take time to ultimately resolve an issue like sweat shops and child slavery, since they consider slavery their bread and butter no matter how awful it is. With their lands gone, they need to eat. Its better than nothing. However, the more we focus on reducing our impact and coming up with better solutions, while also fighting for  human and environmental rights, the closer we come to creating a better world to live in.

7. How can you become a better compassionate leader? – Everyone has an innate want for heroism of some degree. We often fantasize about it in grandiose ways that leave us as the sole ownership of combating some great evil. But this just isn’t the case anymore. We live in a world saturated in personal opinions and is why online marketing is such a huge industry. We are all looking for ways to bust out away from the crowd. This is good for healthy business competition but not necessarily with the rest of us.

See, while we’re also dreaming about being a hero, we have internal conflict about being different from others or standing out from the rest. It is normal that we want to follow the crowd, tending to trust ourselves less. This is where leadership and being a good role model come in. It keeps us from the huge responsibility involved with being a hero, while also letting us stand out from a crowd at a comfortable distance.

Start finding unique and compassionate ways you can tie multiple eco and human friendly solutions together to create an example for others to follow. But also look to others to get great examples and ideas. In this way, you are a leader and a  follower of others through reciprocal sharing. We find a comfortable place that makes us feel connected to loved ones and the world. Start creating solutions that work for you and others.

8. How you treat others during times of stress and conflict – Love and happiness are one of the greatest contributors to human and environmental health. Happy people do happy things. We all say we love each other when times are going well. We exceed in our abilities to help one another and be together with fulfilled expectations.

But when that doesn’t happen? Things get real bad, real fast. If you truly love, it is unconditional. This means you are working to improve relationships with others whether they meet your expectations or not. When we love one another, our behavior demonstrates this. If you’re having conflicts with people and finding that you can’t keep your cool, you might tend to become manipulative, or lie, or other behaviors that help create these conflicts.

Start looking into how you can adopt better self-control and emotional stability. Find compassionate ways you can create better personal boundaries and make sure you and the other people are sticking to them. In the Western culture, we’re raised in ways that don’t support unconditional love. This goes back generations. Be a leader and start figuring out what went wrong, and be the hero to stand up for it. Learn to adopt non-violent speech and take part in peaceful conflicts, even if other people aren’t or won’t. Your continued dedication to this will eventually become contagious for you and others.

9. Switch to chemical-free household and lawn and garden products – Another major contributor to our problems are the products we buy for our homes. Every product we buy now has chemicals that are not good for us. The list is endless and could be a blog of its own. As you go through your home, try to start adopting more organic and eco-friendly products to improve your health and the environment. The bathroom and kitchen are two of the worst places we deal with chemicals. To the food we eat, the soap we use, the toxins coming from plastics and teflon, to the make-up and shampoo too.

Its overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time, even with curiosity and interest, you’ll eventually realize that the natural products are more beneficial in every way. Not only that, but when you make these switches, it affects the supply and demand change. Fewer animals will get tested on for products that still aren’t safe for humans even after the testing. And you will be saving the environment. When you start tweaking your life enough, you will eventually see a cost efficient lifestyle as well. This means less time killing yourself at your job, and more time on things that you love.

10. How you use technology in terms of your relationships – How many times have you noticed that someone’s attention was not fully on you because of some electronic device? Sometimes this doesn’t matter, but when something like texting starts to take over someone’s life, everybody around them also feels the effects.

Recently I was aware of a situation where a person that texted a lot thought they were always excluded from others. After being in that situation without the use of her phone, she had a really good time with everybody and said she didn’t feel excluded at all. The power of your devices are often unseen until you set them aside and engage with others in a fun, compassionate way. This is also true of computers, TVs, video games, and etc. Try it out for yourself and see. That sense of connection you are longing for will have more opportunities to show up in your life and get to you a lot faster.

Take Action

Take the pledge with Soul Our Power today. Its free, and its up to you how you reach the goal, so  be creative and self spoken. Also, committing to the pledge is enough to create a spark of change in your life. Keep pursuing it a little at a time each day and you’ll eventually be reaching goals you never  thought you could. Thank you for your energetic, mental and physical support to this cause for a better world. Now let’s hear what you have to say! Leave your digital footprint below.