by Bash Sarmiento | Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works.
From its origins in art and architecture, minimalism has evolved into a lifestyle that focuses on the essentials to enable a simpler, more satisfying life. As new parents, choosing to go this route can make a positive impact not just on your family but also on the world in general. Read on about several ways to live minimally and discover how minimalism can help you live a cleaner and more sustainable way of life.
Go big? Maybe not.
Be wise in spending money on things, especially on big-ticket items. A common mistake new families make is going for their dream house or dream car early on in their lives. Couples rack up massive credit card debts to make substantial and “obligatory” new-family purchases that they can’t afford. These purchases not only come with the typical heavy mortgages but also entail expensive upkeep. In addition, the debts require that you work long hours to pay them off, resulting in less quality time with the family.
Expensive purchases or “investment” mistakes can also be harmful to the environment. Take the case of houses. The bigger the house, the larger the carbon footprint. It is estimated that building a brand new two-bedroom two-story cottage can produce 80 tons of carbon dioxide. Did you know it takes about 100 years for a single tree to offset one ton of carbon emissions? A better alternative is opting for a more manageable-sized house that is kinder to your pocket and the environment.
Keep a tab on the small things.
How about purchases that aren’t necessarily considered big ones, such as clothes? These so-called “minor” expenses can accumulate and, in fact, cost a ton over time. The rate at which the fashion industry ditches the previous season to churn out the latest styles can be faster than you can google “fast fashion.” Keeping up with the trends means shopping frequently, which can take a large chunk out of your finances that could have been better saved in an individual retirement account (or IRA) or 401k.
Fast fashion also wreaks havoc on the environment. The fashion industry is said to be responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions annually. Not only that, but wasteful shopping for clothes can lead to more plastic microfibers that are dumped into the oceans.
Optimize your finances and protect marine life in one go by forgoing fast fashion. Consider having a capsule wardrobe instead. A capsule wardrobe is one where your closet is filled with just a few wardrobe staples in classic styles that will never go out of fashion. With fewer but easier mix-and-match pieces, you can decide much more quickly on what to wear. And with all your new-parent duties, you can surely appreciate time-saving hacks like this.
Declutter for better mental health.
Neat and tidy spaces can help you maintain your well-being by allowing you to feel in control and be more organized, making you calmer and happier. Clutter-free areas also allow you to focus and think more clearly. It is difficult to be composed when you’re distracted by the disarray of assorted knick-knacks around you. And all the clutter can’t be good for your mental health, which is something you definitely need to have with all the stresses that come with being new parents.
Start decluttering by labeling three bins as “KEEP,” “DONATE” or “RECYCLE.”
In the “KEEP” bin, only include items that you absolutely need. For the items you no longer need but which can still be useful to someone else, put these in the “DONATE” bin. Reserve the “RECYCLE” bin for those items, such as your broken bike, that may no longer be useful in their original state but can be recycled as scrap metal and the like. For such items, check with the recycling organizations in your state. The more things are recycled or repurposed, the less waste is produced, and the better it will be for the environment.
Try walking instead of driving.
Did you know that walking can be a great exercise? It releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can destress, enhance your mood, and get your creative juices flowing. Walking is also a good cardio activity, which means that it can reduce heart-related diseases. The healthier you are, the better you can take care of your family.
Going on foot instead of by car is also beneficial to the environment. Transportation is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gases. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA reported that 29% of carbon emissions in 2019 came from the transportation sector. These gases, when released into the air, trap heat, causing global warming.
So the next time you need to be out on an errand, consider walking, especially if your destination is just around the corner.
Boost your health with salads.
Research shows that people who are into salads tend to be healthier than those who aren’t. Eating a plant-rich diet can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, even Alzheimer’s. And that’s just a few of the benefits.
Going for greens in your meals can also go a long way in saving the environment. Did you know that the cows that produce your steak are big gas producers? Cow manure releases methane, another potent toxic gas that causes global warming. The more steak, dairy, and other meat-based products you consume, the more cows are commercially raised to meet demand. This then leads to more gas emissions that are harmful to the environment.
Skip the steak and try out a plant-based diet instead. Eat healthy by filling up your plate with greens. Your family will be grateful that you’re taking good care of your salad-loving self — and Mother Earth will be too.
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