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Old 11-29-2011, 11:02 PM   #1
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Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

I am so happy to have this new forum! DH is really, really good at being minimalist and at being green. I am still learning, in both categories. However, something that we both struggle with is how to balance these things. We have become MUCH better at being minimalist by avoiding accumulating things in the first place. Our friends and family know that we don't want stuff and are largely supportive of our desire for consumable or experience-based gifts. However, with the stuff that we have or receive, we end up being slightly pack-rattish, out of the desire to a) not have it sit in a landfill, and b) knowledge that we could re-purpose it and make it useful some day rather than having to buy something new. We rent a converted garage, which is a small studio apartment for us, our 7.5 month son and our dog, and the small space helps us to stay minimal, but we still struggle with this balance - and thus have two sheds filled outside.

The other thing I slightly struggle with is that I like to craft and DH likes to build. These hobbies require infrastructure and if it is too packed away, we don't get to enjoy these hobbies. Just a little question that we ask ourselves when we think about what size place we might want to live in the future.

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Old 11-30-2011, 12:30 PM   #2
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

I struggle there too, like the pie pans from thanksgiving... I could re-purpose them for art projects, but then I'd have to store them... I'm trying to find alt ways of re-purposing things, like donating a bunch of recycled items to a local preschool for crafts (tp tubes, pie oans, etc), or leaving small bits of string from craft projects out for the birds for nesting material...

I do think though that because we're working to be minimal that there is less being consumed in the forst place (like you said) and that in itself is pretty green.
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Old 12-01-2011, 09:21 AM   #3
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

I've been trying to wrap my head around ways to make the two work together really well. Being green you think to do things that create less waste and have less impact on the environment. I know some minimalist do the one in one out rule. I would think to make minimalisim and green work together you ditch the one in one out rule. Instead think minimally and green at the same time, make sure the things you bring in your home will be things you will want to be there for a long time. Make sure they are things that will last and can be taken care of/repaired so someone can get some good use out of them later.

For us instead of doing one in one out with kids toys I am encouraging them to get something nice for themselves that will last. Then we can donate a well made 'green' toy that will last. Hopefully in the future I won't be at goodwill or thrift shops dropping off a pile of clothes that look too worn or plastic junk toys destined for the landfill.

For crafts or woodwork it can be a challenge. I am no artist I just enjoy crafts and sewing. I've started thinking about crafts more before I do them. For me a lot of them look fun and cute I buy the supplies and make the item. Then I end up with a craft I want to purge (because of minimalism) and left over supplies I feel guilty about. So now I spend less time on pinterest and blogs and am trying to finish projects I already have started. Instead of cute crafty things try to spend more time making something I will want to hang onto and will last. For me I can slow down and buy a more complex sewing pattern that takes more time to make instead of rushing through a quick and easy one and moving onto the next thing. Things like hand embroidery or hand sewing take longer than using the machine so I make less things in more time (not a good goal if you sell things but it works if you do it just for enjoyment!) and it keeps me from getting bored.
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hezdwoody
I've been trying to wrap my head around ways to make the two work together really well. Being green you think to do things that create less waste and have less impact on the environment. I know some minimalist do the one in one out rule. I would think to make minimalisim and green work together you ditch the one in one out rule. Instead think minimally and green at the same time, make sure the things you bring in your home will be things you will want to be there for a long time. Make sure they are things that will last and can be taken care of/repaired so someone can get some good use out of them later.

For us instead of doing one in one out with kids toys I am encouraging them to get something nice for themselves that will last. Then we can donate a well made 'green' toy that will last. Hopefully in the future I won't be at goodwill or thrift shops dropping off a pile of clothes that look too worn or plastic junk toys destined for the landfill.

For crafts or woodwork it can be a challenge. I am no artist I just enjoy crafts and sewing. I've started thinking about crafts more before I do them. For me a lot of them look fun and cute I buy the supplies and make the item. Then I end up with a craft I want to purge (because of minimalism) and left over supplies I feel guilty about. So now I spend less time on pinterest and blogs and am trying to finish projects I already have started. Instead of cute crafty things try to spend more time making something I will want to hang onto and will last. For me I can slow down and buy a more complex sewing pattern that takes more time to make instead of rushing through a quick and easy one and moving onto the next thing. Things like hand embroidery or hand sewing take longer than using the machine so I make less things in more time (not a good goal if you sell things but it works if you do it just for enjoyment!) and it keeps me from getting bored.
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think minimally and green at the same time, make sure the things you bring in your home will be things you will want to be there for a long time. Make sure they are things that will last and can be taken care of/repaired so someone can get some good use out of them later.
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Old 12-01-2011, 04:31 PM   #5
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

This is all so helpful!!!! I agree with the 'getting things that last' principle (as opposed to one in and one out). The thoughts about crafting are also really helpful -- not just thinking about the process, but also about the product. Thanks!!!

I guess where I still struggle -- if anyone has tips -- is that DH loves to keep around lots of old stuff that others would throw away, because he will often dip into those bins for something to fix something, rather than having to go out and buy a new part. Does that make sense? So, just when I want to purge all the cardboard boxes we have, then he needs them for some project that would reduce the need to buy something new. But, in the meantime, we have lots of (what I see as) clutter sitting around.
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Old 12-01-2011, 05:31 PM   #6
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

I understand what you mean! For example, our recycling bins always look like clutter to me! Plus, I grow my own veggies (since I want organic food and cannot afford to pay grocery store prices for it!) and that brings a lot of stuff into the house and shed. Plus, I've started canning my own food in an attempt to feed our family as healthy as possible but the canning supplies take up so much room! THen I have to store the food I can! Last summer I canned tons of fresh fruit and veggies from our garden which I LOVE having on hand, but they do take up a lot of space!
Crafting is another thing that works against my minimalist wants.............
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:03 AM   #7
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

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Originally Posted by Jenette View Post
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haha thanks! Now if only finding things made to last was an easy task!
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:06 AM   #8
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

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Originally Posted by OurAllenBaby View Post
I understand what you mean! For example, our recycling bins always look like clutter to me! Plus, I grow my own veggies (since I want organic food and cannot afford to pay grocery store prices for it!) and that brings a lot of stuff into the house and shed. Plus, I've started canning my own food in an attempt to feed our family as healthy as possible but the canning supplies take up so much room! THen I have to store the food I can! Last summer I canned tons of fresh fruit and veggies from our garden which I LOVE having on hand, but they do take up a lot of space!
Crafting is another thing that works against my minimalist wants.............
My recycling bins drive me crazy which makes DH think I am crazy! Glad I am not alone.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:59 PM   #9
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

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Originally Posted by OurAllenBaby View Post
I understand what you mean! For example, our recycling bins always look like clutter to me! Plus, I grow my own veggies (since I want organic food and cannot afford to pay grocery store prices for it!) and that brings a lot of stuff into the house and shed. Plus, I've started canning my own food in an attempt to feed our family as healthy as possible but the canning supplies take up so much room! THen I have to store the food I can! Last summer I canned tons of fresh fruit and veggies from our garden which I LOVE having on hand, but they do take up a lot of space!
Crafting is another thing that works against my minimalist wants.............
Canning also gets me!! I dont can as much as I would like to because I dont have anywhere to store the finished product (read: realy small pantry!)/
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:00 PM   #10
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Re: Balancing Being Green and Being Minimalist

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I guess where I still struggle -- if anyone has tips -- is that DH loves to keep around lots of old stuff that others would throw away, because he will often dip into those bins for something to fix something, rather than having to go out and buy a new part. Does that make sense? So, just when I want to purge all the cardboard boxes we have, then he needs them for some project that would reduce the need to buy something new. But, in the meantime, we have lots of (what I see as) clutter sitting around.

My DH is the same way. He has cardboard boxes of all his old uniforms from basic training in 1993.......even the underwear and socks!!!!!!
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