Beginner's Guide to Minimalism

What is minimalism and how does it relate to zero waste? Simply put, minimalism is about living consciously and with only the things we need. Sounds a lot similar to zero waste living, huh?

Minimalism discourages excessive consumerism, just in the same way zero waste does. We don’t need excessive clothes, cars, houses and electronics to be happy – but modern society tells us otherwise. 

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

With minimalism, less is more. You focus not so much on the items, but on the people, the experiences, the memories you build over time. 

That doesn’t mean you have to give up all your possessions and abandon your dreams of owning a nice house or car. It simply means not putting so much pressure on physical items to bring us happiness.

When you focus too much on the material things in life, you tend to over buy and get wrapped up in consumer culture. We all know over consumption also hurts the environment, and sometimes even our own health. 

In this way, minimalism and zero waste are tied nicely together. To help you understand minimalism a bit more, here’s an introduction I’ve whipped up for you.

why should you be a minimalist?

Minimalism will help you achieve freedom. Freedom from the trappings of consumer culture, that is.

It helps you slow down and look at life from a different perspective. It makes you realize things don’t have to be overcomplicated.

The whole goal of minimalism is to find lasting happiness by ridding yourself of life’s excesses. It teaches you to focus on what’s important so you can find fulfillment.

When you go minimalist, and stop focusing so much on the material world, you can:

  • Live moment by moment

  • Pursue your dreams and passions

  • Discover your calling

  • Improve your relationships

  • Focus on healthy living

  • Contribute to the world

  • Eliminate discontent

  • Consume less

These are just a few benefits you receive from going minimalist. 

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

the less you consume, the better:

We all have to consume – we all need food, clothes, shelter and other essentials. It’s when we buy items we don’t really need that consumption becomes a problem, and excessive. 

We’re constantly bombarded by ads, billboards, videos and commercials telling us to consume more. If we do that, we’ll be happy. But the opposite is the truth.

True happiness doesn’t come from an item. It comes from fulfillment, from doing good, and from living a life full of meaning. 

ask yourself – when is enough, enough? 

If you can afford the necessities, is it really necessary to continuously splurge on items you don’t need? 

Do you really need the souped-up truck with the fancy stereo system? Or the huge pool in the backyard where there could be a garden? 

It’s essential to ask yourself when enough is enough. Having nice items isn’t bad, but getting lost in consumer culture is.

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

get to the root cause of your purchase:

Are you trying to gain happiness? Maybe you want to have something to show off to your friends and family? Are you simply bored? 

Ask yourself the reasons you want to buy more stuff. The truth may not be as innocent as you first thought.

If you’re buying items simply to keep up with the Johnsons, you need to reevaluate things on a deeper level. Buying consciously, and with intent, will make you a lot happier.

Here’s seven actionable steps to live a more minimalist life.

1. analyze your possessions: 

Start by going through what you already have and ask yourself why you bought something. In many ways, it’s similar to conducting a trash audit.

How many clothes do you have? How many kitchen appliances do you own? How many beauty products are squirreled away in your bathroom cabinet? Is it adding any value to your life at all or is it just taking up space?

When you get to know the items in your life, you start to learn your buying patterns.

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

2. downsize your material items: 

This doesn’t mean simply throw them into the trash! Get the ultimate guide on decluttering the zero waste way which helps you share the things you no longer use. 

Related: How to Join the Sharing Economy

Perhaps donating all your unused clothes to a thrift shop is a good option. You can also give away some items as gifts to your loved ones. Or, perhaps create a free mini library using the books you no longer read. 

There are so many creative ways to get rid of the items that no longer serve a purpose in your life, without being wasteful.

Related: Where to Donate Unusual Items (like old tennis shoes & swimsuits!)

3. simplify your routine as much as possible:

Do you have an elaborate eco-friendly skin care routine routine at night or in the morning? When you clean your home does it take you hours because you use so many different products? 

Whatever routine you have, try to find ways simplify it so you can do them more efficiently.

Generally speaking, when you cut down on the amount of items in your life, you’ll naturally create a simpler routine for yourself too. You might even gain some extra time for yourself too!

For example, when you minimize your skin care products at night, it’ll give you more time so you don’t have to rush to bed right away. You’ll actually be able to relax before going right to sleep.

As for cleaning products, there’s no need to have 10 different cleaners sitting in your cabinet. One or two really great, multi-purpose cleaning products are more than enough, like an all-purpose cleaner or my magic tub scrub that has rave reviews!

For more easy, zero-waste and eco-friendly cleaning recipes be sure to check out my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste.

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

4. analyze your wants:

Often times, we have lots of wants like a pair of trendy overalls, an avocado saver, a strawberry slicer, a new tea kettle, or dress etc. etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with having a wishlist, it’s important to ask yourself whether these items will truly bring value to your life.

Related: Why I Wait 30 Days Before Making Any Purchase

Ask yourself what will they do for your happiness once you achieve them? Keep in mind material items only tend to grant us happiness for a brief amount of time. This is a great study on how fleeting happiness can be after buying something.

Seek to pursue goals that aren’t too material based. Here’s a list of non-material based goals, wants, and experiences you might like to try instead.

  • a new exercise class

  • get out in nature

  • try a new restaurant

  • enjoy time reading a new book in a cafe

  • get a massage or facial

  • save for your retirement

  • learn a musical insturment

  • pick up a new hobby

  • save for a DREAM vacation!

Get inspired with a huge list of experiences to buy instead of a new pair of shoes!

Honestly, when I’m about to buy something - (ethical fashion you so expensive) - I ask myself would you rather have a massage or a new dress? Would you rather have $1,000 in the future (be on the lookout for my guide to eco-friendly investing) or buy this new pair of shoes?

Guess what I choose 90% of the time?

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

5. stick to realistic, simple goals:

With all your extra free time, write out a few goals for you to achieve. Maybe you want to go back to painting or voice lessons or pick up the piano again!

But, don’t make too many goals at once. This can easily lead to overwhelm and discontent when we can’t fulfill them.

Setting too many goals can also easily over-complicate your life, and remember minimalism is all about SIMPLICITY.

Simplify your goals by narrow it down to just one or two to start. You’ll have a higher success rate if you focus on just two or three goals, opposed to eight.

Personally, I like to write down my little goals for the day in a notebook and check them off. This helps me feel satisfied when I accomplish my tasks, and helps me to break big goals (learn french or how to play the piano) into a more manageable task like practice for 30 minutes.

RELATED: 10 Self-Care Practices Good For You and the Environment

Also, having smaller day-to-day goals helps keep you in tune with the present moment, rather than living for something in the future. It keeps you grounded to the here and now, which is important in minimalism.

6. be selective with your time: 

Time is precious, so it’s important to watch who and what you give your energy to.

Is there anything in your schedule that’s eating up your time you don’t find necessary or joyful? What could you be doing with that time instead?

Analyze what your schedule looks like and see if there’s anything you deem unnecessary.

Perhaps going to get your dog groomed every week is cutting in on time you could spend playing with them. Or, maybe those piano lessons you thought you’d enjoy are becoming more like a chore and interfering with other aspects of your life. 

It’s good to re-access where you’re at and decide if you want to continue. After all, as we grow, our hobbies and interests can change.

It’s important to remember minimalism isn’t just about stuff – it's about minimizing in general. That applies to your schedule, too.

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

7. practice gratitude: 

It’s so important to make every day count and acknowledge your blessings. In order to live a conscious life, you have to be able to see all that you have.

I like to create a gratitude list every week of the things I’m grateful for - it keeps me centered!

Creating a gratitude list also helps me realize the things I find myself being grateful for the most aren’t items; they’re people and experiences

When you practice gratitude on a regular basis, you’re less likely to seek out more stuff. Instead, you’ll be content with what you already have.

I believe The Grinch said it the best, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

The 10 things you need to know a beginners guide to minimalism from #minimalism #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleliving #simplicity

Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.

10 Things I Don't Buy Anymore

Minimalism and zero waste share some core tennants, one of them being BUY LESS. After all the first word in the most popular eco-friendly phrase is REDUCE in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I have saved so much money, by just not buying stuff and only opting to bring the items that I truly love and need into my life.

Please check out the video under the header image to learn more about the 10 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore.

10 things I no longer buy from #minimalism #nobuy #nospend #zerowaste #ecofriendly #gogreen

Some of these links are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy!

1. plastic water bottles:

I’ve been plastic water bottle free for four years and counting! I’m honestly embarrassed by how much money I used to spend on plastic water bottles in college.

Now, you’ll typically find me carrying an insulated Dopper Bottle or a Klean Kanteen!

2. kuerig pods:

I’ve never owned a kuerig, but my boyfriend in college did so I would buy myself hot chocolate pods to use when I was over at his apartment.

If you've got a Keurig, why not switch to reusable pods, you'll save a BUNCH of money and your coffee will taste better because it's fresh!

3. pads & tampons:

Omigosh, I’m saving so much money by switching to reusables. Whether you wear a cup, cloth pads, or my personal favorite Thinx! Then you know that you too can be saving a bunch of money.

And, you’ll never have to worry about running out products and having to run to the corner store at 11 pm on a Tuesday night.

If you’re interested in trying thinx, you can get $10 off with this link.

4. paper towels:

I have a great blog post and video on breaking up with paper towels. Because let’s be honest, paper towels are spendy!

Instead, I use cotton rags. I don’t recommend microfiber cloths because they shed micro-plastics in the washing machine. Check out my post The Problem With Microplastics.

Most people have a problem with reusable cloth towels because they push water around instead of absorbing it so my recommendation is to go for cloth towels with a wide weave .

Bar rags do a great job! Fold em up, store em in a tiny basket so they're super convenient for you!

RELATED: 6 Tips for Breaking Up With Paper Towels

5. plastic baggies:

BE GONE! There are SO many solutions to this simple plastic conundrum, here’s just a few:

6. Spongeless:

Swapping out sponges has been one of the greates swaps I’ve made because the compostable counterparts aren’t only better for the environment, but they also slay on the savings side. The compostable scrubs last for years... YEARS - I TELL YOU.

Plus, you’ve got a lot of options!

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Washing Your Dishes - the Zero Waste Way!

7. no more pre-packed "convenience" foods:

I broke up with pre-packed “convenience” foods. I put convenience in quotes because I’m not entirely sure how “convenient” these items really are.

I was constantly reaching for chips, oreos, and poptarts, but now I reach for things like apples, bananas, and oranges which are equally convenient and have a better nutrition profile!

That’s just one of t he ways that going zero waste helped to improve my health. That’s not saying I never snack.

I still buy treats at the bulk store and make homemade poptarts, but I’m very intentional about them rather than just snacking mindlessly.

8. broke up with fast fashion:

I said buh-bye to fast fashion. I realized that so many of my purchases were mindless, needless, and completely devoid of a plan. I still buy clothes, but opt for secondhand and ethical purchases. Now, when I buy, I’m very intentional about those purchases!

9. cotton balls/cloth pads:

Instead of letting my toner absorb into a reusable cloth pad, I put my toner in a spray bottle! Boom, less waste and one less thing to buy.

Pour your toner into a spray bottle, and then spritz your face and let it air dry. I used an old spray bottle, but also have several of these and LOVE them.

This one simple swap has doubled the life of my toner bottle! And, my skin care routine isn’t cheap so I love that I’m saving money and wasting less.

My zero waste skin care routine - morning edition
Zero waste makeup brands
Zero waste skincare brands

10. aluminum foil:

I used to buy a lot of aluminum foil, I used it for everything from lining pans to tenting pies and wrapping up that lone pizza slice.

Thankfully there are reusable products when fill all of these voids.

For that lone pizza or pie slice beeswax wraps do the trick! To shield your pie crust try these. And, if you want something non-stick for baking check out Silpats they also work great for freezing!

These are the 10 things that I no longer buy. Do you have something you no longer buy since switching to a zero waste lifestyle?

6 Tips for Shopping Less

As a former shopaholic, I am excited to bring you my tips for shopping less! I tend to go through waves. There are times when I’m super good, but there are also times when I’m not so good.

I think we’ve established that I used to have a shopping problem…

But, these are the six tips that never fail to bring me back on track. ESPECIALLY #3! You can get all six tips in the video down below.


I used to buy a lot… and I mean a LOT of stuff. Especially clothes. You can read about this in depth in this post about how to make a small wardrobe work for you. In this post I talk all about my shopping problem, but the post itself is all about the time I tried an 18 piece wardrobe and totally failed.

Surprise, going from shopaholic to an 18 piece wardrobe wasn’t the smartest idea!

One of the best things I did to curb my shopping habit was implementing a personal 30 Day Buy-Ban on all new items coming in. That in combination with the tips below have been my ticket to shopping less - which is honestly one of the best things you can do for the environment.

Yep, shopping less really is one of the best ways for you to reduce your impact on the environment because we tend to buy a lot of stuff that we don’t really want or need. You can read about that here in my Beginners Guid to Zero Waste Living.