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How I moved out of my apartment of 3 years with just two duffel bags

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Gabriela Knutson and a minimalist bedroom
Waste: the average adult American has been estimated to throw away approximately 37kg of clothes every year

I was in my third and final year of graduate school and I only had a few weeks left. Before I started packing, I started to gather up all my belongings into piles and I realized one very important thing… I just had so much stuff. My drawers were filled with random junk that I had forgotten about, shirts and underwear I had not worn in months and, most importantly, little knick-knacks I thought I could not live without. All this stuff was making me feel overwhelmed, panicky, and stressed about where the heck I was going to put all of it when I moved away. I did not need any of it – I just felt an arbitrary sense of connection to them.

I was literally studying a MSc degree in Sustainability and Energy, and yet I had so many pointless belongings and so much waste! I felt like a hypocrite, so I decided to make a change. I read books and countless articles, and watched documentaries, on an up-and-coming movement called sustainable minimalism.

Then I got rid of the stuff – almost all of it. That random shirt I got from an event? Sold on Depop. The earrings I got as a gift, wore once and never again? Donated. The “going out” shoes I would never ever let see the light of day? Tossed in the bin.

 

Meet sustainable minimalism, also called ecominimalism – a movement that has taken the environmental community by storm. It is a lifestyle that embraces simplification and rejects consumerism to free up space for the more important things in life.

You know that urge you get when you see a new iPhone, a new pair of shoes, or a new car? It is that purchasing drive that makes you want it, need it, and be unsatisfied with what you have until you get it.

The average adult American has been estimated to throw away approximately 37kg of clothes every year and to spend over $1900 on garments over that same time period. The main driver of this is fast fashion. Ecominimalism is a way to remove yourself from this endless cycle of consumerism and marketing-induced desire, while also having the added bonus of minimizing your carbon footprint in the process.

Minimalism emerged in the late 1950s as an art movement but has since then grown to become much more than that. Now it is not purely aesthetic. There are numerous minimalist influencers on YouTube and social media that preach about the core values and ethics of minimalism. At its core, its values are:

  • Own fewer things to clear up space in your life for what truly matters.
  • Live with intentionality and purpose.
  • Free yourself from your need for new personal belongings.

 

Becoming a sustainable minimalist does not mean you need to create a capsule wardrobe or throw out all your possessions tomorrow. On the contrary, being a truly sustainable minimalist means wearing and using everything you own for as long as possible. Don’t throw out that iPhone just because you saw a new one came out. Don’t buy a new shampoo when you have a perfectly good one lying in your shower hamper. That shirt you don’t like? Transform it into a dish towel, or a blanket, or donate it to a friend or local charity shop. Zero-waste living is important, but we can take it a step further with minimalism to live with intentionality and love for our items.

If you want to simplify your life, reduce your stress, and help the planet, start slow. There are many methods to declutter your apartment, exercises to help you choose which items to keep and which ones to toss, and how-tos on what to purchase when you do need something, but the most important step is this: stop buying so much stuff you do not need and focus on you, your life, and your family and friends.

To learn more about sustainable minimalism or the minimalist movement itself, here are some helpful links:

Becoming Minimalist

The Minimalist Vegan

I am a half-American and half-Czech professional tennis player, currently living in the United Kingdom. I have a bachelor in broadcast and digital journalism and a Masters in Sustainability and Energy. I am a news junkie, environmentalist, sustainability nerd and avid reader.

Sustainability

Sky inks 10-year deal for clean energy in Scotland

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A windfarm in Scotland
Starting in 2025, Sky will receive 100 GWh annually of clean, renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm

Sky has signed a 10-year agreement with Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust to receive renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Under this agreement, Sky will receive the majority of renewable energy guarantees of origin (REGOs) generated from the 46 MW wind farm, which will help Sky reduce the emissions associated with its electricity use.

Starting in 2025, Sky will receive 100 GWh annually of clean, renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm, approximately 69% of the total power generated by the project. This is equivalent to approximately 34,000 UK homes’ annual electricity use. [1]

The agreement is a key part of Sky’s ongoing commitment to sourcing renewable electricity. From being the first media company to go carbon neutral in 2006, to launching the world’s first auto standby set top box – Sky has been committed to decarbonising its business for more than 15 years.

“This agreement is evidence of Sky’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We source the majority of our electricity in the UK from renewable energy and this long-term project in Lanarkshire provides us with lasting clean energy for years to come. As a media and entertainment company, we are determined to use our voice to help the media sector and the UK more broadly decarbonise,” acknowledges Fiona Ball, Group Director of the Bigger Picture and Sustainability at Sky.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2022, renewable energy supply from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and ocean rose by close to 8%, meaning that the share of these technologies in total global energy supply increased by close to 0.4 percentage points.

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Sustainability

Last day to enter the EU Organic awards

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Last day to enter the EU Organic awards
The EU Organic Awards was first held in 2022 | Photo: Zoe Schaeffer

Organic food producers in the EU will have until the end of the day to enter the EU Organic Awards 2024. It is the third year that the initiative will be offering a platform to a winner highlight excellence and innovation in the sector. The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030.

The awards are organised by European Commission, with the EESC, the European Committee of the Regions, COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe. The EESC supervises the nomination, shortlisting and award process for three categories: best organic food processing SME, best organic food retailer and best organic restaurant/food service.

“The EU Organic Awards give a recognition to the innovation, passion and dedication of those who truly champion organic food and production in the EU and bring it closer to everyday consumers,” says EESC President Oliver Röpke.

Last year’s winners from the categories for which the EESC supervises have also joined forces to encourage businesses to seek recognition.

Kevin Scully, whose business The Merry Mill was awarded the prize for the best organic food processing SME, urged companies to nominate themselves: “I recommend other businesses to apply for the Organic Awards because it’s very good for a company’s profile and brings a great endorsement.”

Paul Kolarik, head of Austrian eatery Kolarik im Prater that won the best organic restaurant award, said: “Winning the Organic Awards generated great interest in our business from the national media. Thanks to the awards, new collaborations have also emerged and many political representatives became aware of our commitment to the organic and sustainability sector.”

The awards ceremony takes place on 23 September 2024, which is the EU Organic Day.

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Sustainability

Applications open for the EU Organic awards 2024

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Applications open for the EU Organic awards 2024
The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030 | Photo: Gregory Hayes

Organic food producers in the EU will have until May 12th to enter the EU Organic Awards 2024. It is the third year that the initiative will be offering a platform to a winner highlight excellence and innovation in the sector. The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030.

The awards are organised by European Commission, with the EESC, the European Committee of the Regions, COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe. The EESC supervises the nomination, shortlisting and award process for three categories: best organic food processing SME, best organic food retailer and best organic restaurant/food service.

“The EU Organic Awards give a recognition to the innovation, passion and dedication of those who truly champion organic food and production in the EU and bring it closer to everyday consumers,” says EESC President Oliver Röpke.

Last year’s winners from the categories for which the EESC supervises have also joined forces to encourage businesses to seek recognition.

Kevin Scully, whose business The Merry Mill was awarded the prize for the best organic food processing SME, urged companies to nominate themselves: “I recommend other businesses to apply for the Organic Awards because it’s very good for a company’s profile and brings a great endorsement.”

Paul Kolarik, head of Austrian eatery Kolarik im Prater that won the best organic restaurant award, said: “Winning the Organic Awards generated great interest in our business from the national media. Thanks to the awards, new collaborations have also emerged and many political representatives became aware of our commitment to the organic and sustainability sector.”

The awards ceremony takes place on 23 September 2024, which is the EU Organic Day.

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