A rant: Decluttering does not equal minimalism, sustainability or eco-consciousness.

This is likely going to come across as quite ‘spacey’ so to speak, but I need to get this out. So, if it makes no sense, then I guess I’ll have to fix it later.

Lately I’ve been noticing this trend going around the internet (I’m pretty sure it started with that Marie Kondo book) and around people in my life, if I’m being totally honest, where people are promoting ‘Decluttering’ and ‘Minimalism’ because it’s become trendy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people doing things that mimic the notion of “I’m a minimalist, it’s so trendy, look at me decluttering in my photos, on my Facebook Page, in my videos, in my blog posts… it’s so great!”

Here’s the thing… if you were actually a minimalist, you wouldn’t have bought those fucking things to start with. Furthermore, please stop pretending as though this trend of becoming a minimalist is sustainable, eco-conscious or good for the environment.

Hearing about how you decluttered your home to throw a bunch of stuff in the trash, that’s the farthest thing from being eco-conscious. And honestly, please don’t try to pretend like you’re doing anything better by donating these things to a Thrift Store. While Thrift Stores try to resell what they can, they’re inundated with millions upon millions pounds of junk people bought and didn’t need each year, so they decided to ‘donate’. And I’m sorry, but you’re not saving the planet by forcing a Thrift Store to throw out things for you.

A minimalist is someone who doesn’t buy things they don’t need. A minimalist isn’t someone who declutters so they have space to go and by more things.

An eco-conscious person is someone who really thinks about their purchases and how they can make purchases that are better for them and smarter for our earth. And I really cannot stress this enough, an eco-conscious person is someone who makes use of what they already have.

For example: Being eco-conscious is not about buying a stainless steel water bottle when you already have a plastic blender bottle. An eco-conscious person says ‘I already have a water bottle so I’m going to make use of that one until it’s worn out or I can’t use it anymore’. Don’t just declutter your water bottle because it’s made out of plastic. It’s a water bottle. You already own it. Fucking use it. Dear god, please just use what you already fucking have.

This eco-conscious movement is being driven by hyper consumerism and it’s driving me crazy. You’re not doing anything good for the environment if you’re throwing out something you already own in order to buy something that isn’t plastic. You’re not doing anything good for the environment if you’re purchasing things from a Thrift Store if you still don’t need the things you’re purchasing… I don’t care how cheap they are. You’re not doing anything good for the environment by consistently donating what you have because your home is a revolving door of what is new and in style.

Furthermore a minimalist is a minimalist because they don’t buy/own things they don’t need. They’re not doing it to be trendy. They’re not doing it for clout. They’re doing it because if they don’t need something then they don’t want it taking up space in their home. Minimalists don’t have to declutter because they use what they have.

If you really want to make eco-conscious and sustainable decisions – start composting. Start recycling. Save your leftovers and eat them tomorrow. Don’t buy something because it’s trendy, buy something because you need it. Make smarter decisions.

I’m so tired of people throwing away entire boxes of Ziploc bags and plastic wrap because they purchased beeswax wrap or reusable bags on Amazon. Firstly, if we’re talking sustainability here… Amazon in itself is a huge problem. Secondly, you already own the Ziploc bags. You already own the plastic wrap. You might as well make use out of them, since you have them. And then, when you run out, that’s the time to think ‘how can I make a smarter purchasing decision next time’. Don’t just throw them in the garbage.

I will not ever fault someone for wanting to make eco-conscious, environmentally friendly decisions. That being said, please, please, please educate yourselves when doing so. Because there’s so much perfectly good/usable stuff sitting in landfills right now because someone needed to go out and buy the plastic free version, or the ‘sustainable brand’. And how is that helping anything?

94 thoughts on “A rant: Decluttering does not equal minimalism, sustainability or eco-consciousness.

  1. Yes!!! If I shook my head anymore in agreement with this post, I’d be dizzy for days.
    The whole throwing out something plastic just to buy an eco version of it drives me beyond mad. If you already have the plastic, you’re not contributing anymore than you already have to the plastic problem. If you buy a bamboo coffee cup, Doc Brown isn’t going to turn up in his Delorean and take you back in time so you can’t buy the plastic one ffs!
    The whole reason plastic came about was because it was meant to be longer lasting and less likely to break. So chucking something away when you can still use it is utter madness. It’s just going to sit in landfill forever.
    Starting to think that Pixar had it right with the WALLE movie 😢

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think that’s so important to note – what you’ve said here – that plastic… good plastic goods are meant to last a long time. If you have a blender bottle or some good meal prep containers or thick cups for kids or whatever it is that could possibly be in your house, then use them and make use out of them. Your point is so important and so valid. Plastic things were meant to last a long time. So if you own it, make use of it. Don’t just throw it out because it’s made of plastic. If it still works, use it! I totally agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. On a related note; when old people drive around the country sightseeing in gas guzzling vehicles it’s called RV’ing and is super wasteful, but when young people do it its tiny housing and it’s somehow sustainable.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I don’t know what it is – Misinformation? People being uneducated? Whatever it is, it was meant to do a good thing but it’s causing a lot of harm in the process.

      Like

  3. Thank God you said it, YES!!!!! I too find all this nonsense and super annoying. I tend to be more of a minimalist in my life after I was caught in the housing crunch in ’08, lost my home and sold most of my possessions.
    I also run in Vibrams, barefoot minimalist running shoes so I guess I can use the term LMAO🤣
    I’m kidding…..I totally get you here and agree with you. Not a buzz word, not a trend so all y’all out there sashaying around claiming it STOP🛑

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never heard of those? And you’re right, it’s not a trend. It needs to be a lifestyle… something people do research on. Something people are educated on and make smart decisions about. Going and throwing everything out is just not okay.

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      1. They simulate running barefoot and look like toe socks, basically protecting your feet. I have been running in them, racing in triathlons since 2009. I can’t wear regular running shoes anymore because they have changed everything about my posture, stride, stance, foot fall while building incredible muscles. As a dancer, these were a natural selection for me. I also read, “Born to Run”which changed everything for me.

        Yes please people…..do your research!! I loathe how buzz words, trends and the like creep into society and erode values.
        I’d like your take on Spiritual ego…🤔

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I need to declutter my life desperately. We cleaned out my parents home of 45 years last year and I had so much to haul back here. Too much stuff makes my eye twitch. I need to hire one of those life organizer folks myself lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Are there things to sell? Things to give to people who could use them? Things to donate to a place where they’d get use out of them? I know it sounds like dumb questions, but I just… when we cleaned out my grandpas house, the local high school took all of his hockey sticks and hockey pucks because they were going to use them for gym class. Things that you might have that someone can make use of, please do that! I hate thinking of things winding up in a landfill that could still be used!

      Like

      1. You know the sad thing, I have posted ads on facebook and not one buyer. Times are tough I think. People aren’t shopping here.

        We had truck loads of stuff from my dad’s place. The stuff I kept was my mum’s and some of it sentimental value.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I would agree. I would also say, though, Decluttering can be good, but it can also be bad. I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to just throw out perfectly good, perfectly usable things. One girl I saw on youtube today, I saw her throw away a ceramic salad bowl because she didn’t like the design of it anymore. Like… why couldn’t she ask her neighbour if her neighbour wanted it? Or her church? Or her siblings? All too often people think declutter means throw it in the garbage and that mentality should change. In the case of her, it was a bowl today, but when I looked at her Youtube feed, four of the videos she’s posted in the past month have been about decluttering her home and all the stuff she’s thrown away… perfectly good stuff. And sadly, she’s not alone. This is a lot of people. And it sucks. And I’m ranting in the comments. Sorry for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sing it sista! 😊. While I’m trying to live a more eco friendly lifestyle I’m far from perfect. I’m going to learn and incorporate new things into my lifestyle along this journey – and make so many mistakes.

    One of them is going for the “flashy” eco friendly stuff that society is inundated with daily. I’m beginning to realize now that I need to take a page out of my grandparents “Book of Life” (they lived during the 30’s) and live more like they did. I’m realizing that I’m now doing a lot of things that they did, with their “every day” items, than I ever did with the flashy stuff I bought.

    So, the “flashy stuff” is now folded in cupboards alongside my “everyday” stuff for use. They both work just as well, but the “flashy stuff” was more expensive and left a bigger carbon footprint.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YESSSSSSS! Your comment about Flashy Stuff is so relevant. People are all like ‘I need a bamboo cutlery set’ and ‘I need glass meal prep containers’. Well I’m pretty sure that everyone in the world has some form of cutlery already, why do you need to buy more? Because it’s bamboo? Can’t you just take a fork out of your drawer and bring it home to wash later? Every day forks are just as good as the bamboo fork that’s 20 dollars on Amazon. Sorry for ranting in the comments section.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. True. Also, minimalism =/= eco-friendly or frugal.

    Often, minimalism lifestyle has a hidden assumption – that if you need something you are discarding in the future, you have enough resources to purchase it again, and purchase it quickly and conveniently.

    If you have financial restraints or eco-concerns, then it’s better to keep something purchased with you, and minimalism isn’t meant for that.

    I’m a minimalist, but to me, minimalism is more oriented towards better mental health and personal management. I don’t claim to be budget-friendly or any more eco-friendly than non-minimalism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Financial constraints is a big thing here too that I don’t think enough people talk about. I’ll never yell at someone for using a Ziploc bag. But, I also might be that friend/sister/daughter who suggests that, if it can be used again, we wash it and use it again. Not everyone can afford the $10 per bag, reusable stasher/silicon bags.

      I agree that prioritize minimalism because it helps with my mental health. When I am not surrounding by things, I feel better and more at ease. My only suggestion I’d make to your comment is, don’t discount or devalue what you do and the choices you make because of why you’re doing it. The point is you’re doing it and it helps. Making smart decisions helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally agree!!! I’ve personally spent a lot of time decluttering because it helped free up space and helped with my mental health overall, but it really did make me realize how much stuff I bought and didn’t need and how much stuff I just wasted. Decluttering and getting rid of stuff isn’t eco-friendly if you still bought it in the first place — and you’re right, by throwing it out it’s actually just worse. The only good that came out of it for me is that it really did make me cut back on buying things I didn’t need. But decluttering, as a concept, is not at all eco-friendly and it’s silly to pretend that it is.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cutting back to buying things you need, and not just buying something because it’s trendy is a really good adjustment to make. I always suggest to people, when I see them decluttering, that if they can find someone using who can use the objects you’re decluttering, or find someone who can give the items a second home, that’s the optimal solution.

      I agree that decluttering is great for one’s mental health. I just want more people to be smart about what they’re doing with the objects. You know what I mean? It’s become so trendy for people to show everything they’re throwing out. I’m just sitting over here like ‘why is this a thing?’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “It’s become so trendy for people to show everything they’re throwing out.”

        Has it? Honestly you’re my only window into the insane and impenetrable world of people on social media, and it’s like seeing a silhouetted figure against your window at night. It arouses curiosity but not something I ideally want to investigate further and I just wish it would go away 😂😅.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Twitter, Instagram and Youtube are filled with people celebrating all of the things they’re throwing out. This whole rant came about because I was watching a girl on YouTube yesterday who has almost a million subscribers share her fourth video in less than a month, about needing to declutter her home. Every third video she’s decluttering and every second video she’s out shopping for something new. I got mad at it, then I took to instagram and saw the #Declutter thread and just got really, really mad.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It is reassuring to see that many commenters here really understand that using fully what we already have is most important! And be glad you don’t have old photographs and albums to part with anymore.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is! It’s nice to see that there are some people in this world who understand the importance of using the goods they have, or, at the very least, rehoming them to someone/somewhere that will get use out of them!

      My parents have a ton of photo albums in their basement. I think those will stay with them forever. They haven’t opened them in 20 years, but I think just knowing they’re there gives them comfort. It’s weird. But, we all have our things, I guess. lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have four siblings and two cousins that were raised as siblings. I think we’ll divide them between all of us so that it seems like a whole lot less to take on. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Although it is obviously a rant it has a very real message behind it.
    The difficulty is that trends are marketed in such a way as to have us all believe that we are doing something useful to help the planet recover from the state that we have got it into.
    A friend of mine commented a few weeks ago that we have been left stewardship over the earth from the days of Adam and Eve and yet we really do seem to be making a real mess of it certainly over the last few decades.
    I agree totally with your comments about replacing things when you need to but creating that need when you don’t have one is absolutely ridiculous.
    Being eco aware and eco friendly are 2 totally different things but let us not get carried away into thinking that we are doing good because we follow the latest trend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Yes. Yes.
      When you need to replace something, do it. Otherwise, you’re just making more trash. And yes, eco-aware and eco-friendly are very different concepts. I could probably talk about this all day. But I’ll save you from listening to me rant more. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  10. 🙌👍 Well said . I will only add one thing. Please pay more attention to how social media influences your desire to BUY things. Don’t be manipulated by their button pushing tricks. Stay off social media if it’s too hard to resist the ads. And recognize that everyone is selling something. Got extra money ? Save it ! Or help a good cause . But don’t buy more stuff unless you need it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so true! Social Media Marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry that causes people to buy things they don’t want and definitely don’t need ALL THE TIME! I wholeheartedly agree with you. If you have money, save it or donate it.

      Like

  11. I’ve been folding the Marie Kondo way only because I can’t fit everything into my dresser if I don’t. And just this weekend I pulled several pieces of clothing out to donate to the Sally Ann because they’re taking up space when they could be used by someone else (they no longer fit, and I’m sick of the punch in the gut of shame over my weight gain every time I look at them). Rather than going to the supermarket and coming home with enough food for a family of 17 (there are 2 of us), I’m trying to shop our kitchen cupboards first. I don’t have social media because I found that it made me feel like I’m always missing out on something (major FOMO – and completely unnecessarily). I recently put shallow shelves up in the bathroom so I could see all of my lotions and potions before running to Shoppers for more. I found that I have 4 eye creams. 4!! So I’ll use up what I have before I buy more.

    I’m not minimalist by any stretch – quite the contrary. But I’m trying. Which I suppose is the most important step.

    I think if more people posted about their efforts to shift their thinking and purchasing habits it would have a greater impact. Instead of being all, “LOOK AT ME! I LIVE A ZEN LIFE WITH 10 ITEMS AND NOW YOU NEED TO BUY THE SAME 10 ITEMS TO LIVE THE LIFE YOU SHOULD BE!”, which only adds to the f&cking problem and is slowly killing our planet. And don’t even get me started on population growth. I’m so over humanity. FFS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you’re making some really smart choices these days. The one conduit I might suggest is, if you’re planning to donate your clothes to the Sally Ann, consider donating them to a Women’s Shelter. There are plenty of women’s living in shelters who don’t have and cannot afford more than 1-2 outfits, and those clothes could mean a great deal to them. If they have to go to the Sally-Ann that’s money they have to pay. Even if it’s for a good cause.

      My mom and I volunteer at the local thrift store that benefits the Canadian Cancer Society here (kind of her way of giving back after all the help she got last year) and the woman that runs the Thrift Store said that it’s a universal issue that Thrift Stores have too many clothes to ever be able to sell and that, in the case of this Thrift Store, she’ll actually separate a lot of pieces and take them to the shelter so that she doesn’t have to throw them away. Shelters rely on donations to help the people they help.

      Also – four eye creams. That’s what I need right now. Maybe I should raid your shelf. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I hadn’t ever thought of the shelter option but will definitely look some up before my next drop off. And I had no idea that there’s too much clothing at Thrift Shops. They never say “no”, so I assumed it was a firm “yes”. Lesson learned.

        As for my eye creams, touch them and I’ll throat punch you. I need as much damn help as I can get. LOL But come for a visit. I’ll be your tour guide around town. We’ll look for doors to selfie in front of.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When you’re a Thrift Store, especially one like the Sally Ann, or one that benefits a charity of some sort, they’re not going to say no because they don’t want people to think they’re not grateful for what they do get. They also don’t want to turn people away one time when they’re full and have that person never come back and tell their friends to never come back and so on and so forth. So it’s something they take on, taking said extra clothes to shelters, etc… because it’s better than the bad PR of saying ‘take your donations elsewhere’ and coming across as ungrateful.

        As for ‘for-profit’ thrift stores like Value Village – A LOT, estimated 60% of what they get, goes right into the trash. (Shelbizzle on Youtube stated this stat in a video recently. I can’t confirm it but if it’s true… I mean… that’s not a good thing)

        I actually lived in Vancouver for a number of years and I could probably show you around town. But we could go on an adventure and take selfies in front of cool doors we find. lol

        Like

      3. You raise some very good points. And as far as VV, I work in international transportation. I learned years ago that they actually sell a fair amount of the goods to exporting companies who then turn it around and sell it to other countries. But a regular person making a donation isn’t going to be aware of this.

        You did? OMG we were once neighbours and didn’t even know it. What a wasted opportunity for door hunting!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There’s also selling to online consignment stores to make some change off of your clothes (thredup.com comes to mind)… Not to mention a great way to buy clothes in a much more eco-friendly way. 🙂

        Like

  12. “Here’s the thing… if you were actually a minimalist, you wouldn’t have bought those fucking things to start with.” Haha, YES! I am a true minimalist and I appreciate this. Aside from my 2-3 fancy Calvin Klein suits and some other clothes, the extent of my materialism, I cannot stand owning shit. I will never be the person who has to get rid of a bunch of things unless it’s from a husband / wife. Hahaaaa. This is a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like the idea of Minimalism, but totally agree that it is wasteful. It should be about making a change for the future, not throwing out all the crap you already purchased in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. One of the worst things about capitalism in general is its ability to hop on any and every trend to simply sell more product/make more money. Sustainability? “Green” products? Yes, let’s make a product marketed toward that market and to hell with the consequences if we’re actually trying to better the world.

    I see this discussion in the EV community a lot. A few wise people point out that if you do want to help the environment, it’s better to use an old beat-up gasoline vehicle than to dump the cash into a newer, fancier electric car. And they’re right. By using an old gas vehicle, you keep it out of the junkyard and keep an unnecessary electric car from being made. The carbon footprint of the already built car is already a thing while the EV’s, if built unnecessarily, will only contribute more CO2 into the atmosphere. Obviously if you’re at the end of your junker car’s life, upgrade to an EV for environmental reason. But forcing it too early is exactly what you’re talking about here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a valid point that gets raised in the car industry. Sure, Tesla’s are great. But… how many people have cars sitting in their driveways right now that aren’t being used and just taking up space because they had to get themselves a Tesla? Nothing against Tesla, I think they’re taking a positive step forward, but these decisions need to be made with forethought. Throwing out one that’s perfectly good just to get the other isn’t really sustainable at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice post. People in the past used to utilize a thing to maximum. They didn’t just throw away things when they stopped working, they got it repaired to use it again. They used to live their lives in their limits. They used to buy only necessary things and didn’t drain money but this new generation has no value of anything. After only 2-3 months of buying a new phone, they start thinking of buying another new phone. They buy not because its their requirement, they buy it to show off others. If you buy a phone and the next day some another phone will launch with better features, how long will keep buying these things. They don’t understand technology keeps changing and new things will keep coming, it is endless race. I had a Nokia Lumia 625 which I bought in 2014, I used it for 5 and half years even when Microsoft and app builders stopped supporting it. Stop this mad race to buy new things just to show off and impress others.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree w minimalism philosophy, think it makes sense and is responsible…excess doesn’t make u happy…a good book, a few acceptable outfits, Natural foods, good to go

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I used to live with excess, and when I left my ex, I fought for what was “mine”, and not soon after realized I not only didn’t need all that stuff, but didn’t really want it. I did one big purge at the beginning (most went to Goodwill), but the last six years have been me slowly rehoming, and yes, sometimes throwing things away. It’s not my preferred method of minimalism. I recently bought a book by a couple of girls I follow on insta called “Mending Life” (the insta is @thefarwoods). I was taught to sew by my mom, but never really learned to mend. I’ve done some mending very badly in my life, and their tutorial on darning socks sent me into a flurry of finding the tiniest of holes in the socks around the house. It’s so…meditative. I don’t know. I’m just super pumped to patch & sew all of a sudden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can absolutely understand how the people around us influence our purchases and our desire to have things. Isn’t it funny how when someone is no longer in our lives, we get so much more clarity about what it is we have and what it is we want? It’s like a cleansing of sorts.

      Like

  18. Totally agree with you! It is good to show some perspective! Great post 🙂
    Indeed it is good to use what you have and maybe have a less insta worthy item but at least use it while it lasts instead of throwing it out.
    Thank you for the great post, stay safe!

    Like

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