The sustainable minimalist - green and sustainably living
Tim Lewis about a the zero waste home and his 80 possessions
In university he was introduced to environmentalism by a ‘Managing Sustainability’ module and in one he fell swoop his entire outlook on life had changed: today Tim Lewis reflects his habits, our society and our responsibilities. What can help to eat more sustainably and what can provide us with greater happiness? For changing the daily life it needs a lot creativity, passion and green-will.
Before I decided to go down the path of minimalism I was incredibly fixated on acquiring more and more ‘stuff’, my possessions really did seem to own me. I spent far too much time on them and wouldn’t share – it was very bad and unlike me. When I started to become a minimalist I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. No longer did I use all of my money buying stuff (just for the sake of collecting stuff) and I started to become a little more humble. I spend more of my time learning, developing myself, going out and experiencing things. I’ve become a little more open minded and take the time to meet new people and new places. I’m calmer; less agitated and have generally been a lot happier since I’ve relinquished the heavy burden of owning so much stuff.
Do you know like-minded people?
I didn’t know any immediate minimalists before I started, in fact I found my influences from a couple of American bloggers who had been talking about their journey for about a couple of years. After I created my own blog (and once it started developing) I was contacted by, and discovered, other minimalists who loved to share their story and talk with like-minded people. I believe there’s a growing population but they are sparsely spread out over the world.
Is it still a ‘fringe’ movement?
Not many people really know what minimalism is and generally are quite defensive when I talk about owning less and not consuming more. You generally start to see how hung up people are on their ‘comforts’. Still, each to their own, I’m a firm believer of that. So because of that I do believe that minimalist is a fringe movement. But I already did have a TV interview from European TV production company called Arte. They have done a fantastic job of communicating my message to fellow Europeans wanting to turn to minimalism or generally lead less consumerist lifestyles.
Is public is ready for your idea? Does it help that ‘capitalism goes green’ like McDonald’s (with the new green label), Westfield or Le Pain Quotidien with their planted walls or is it another cup of tea?
A plan to further your sustainability: completely eliminate plastic from your grocery shopping?
There are shops that sells glass bottles you can re-fill and local farmers markets where you can buy unpackaged breads, vegetables, cakes, fruits, nuts and seeds. All you need to do is bring a couple of cloth bags or glass containers to fill them up with and reuse when you need to go back again. Farmers markets can offer you something far more than your supermarket can: with a higher expertise of their own products, local sourcing and zero wastage. I’ve been very fond of a food store in London where you can buy whole foods without any packaging. It’s called “Unpackaged”, there’s a video on what it’s actually like.
That’s a tough one to answer, vegan is a lot harder than vegetarianism. Many people would already consider me to be a hardcore minimalist. Mainly down to the fact that I have roughly 80 possessions which is very low amongst the majority of minimalists. Being vegan is a step I’ve wanted to make my way towards but I do believe I’m way too far away from achieving that at the moment. I do have a passion for eggs and chicken so it may take me a lifetime to try and convert and do the step towards vegetarism first.
How did friend and familiy deal with you as a minimalist for the first time?
I was very worried that my friends and family scorning me or ridiculing me about wanting to do something radically different by becoming minimalist. It was a little difficult at first to try and explain it to them in a way they would understand. But they have been very supportive of my lifestyle and have been a huge help to me by accepting who I am so that I could feel comfortable writing and sharing about my life to everyone.
Any advises for newbies?
For anyone who is thinking of turning to minimalism but is afraid of telling their friends or family: you shouldn’t be. Just make sure you don’t sound preachy, aggressive or make it out to be like you’re shunning other people for their habits. No one likes to be told that they are living their lives ‘wrong’ or enjoy being told ‘they can do this differently’. But if you start to take positive steps to improve your own life and be humble about everyone else’s choices then if people start to see a new you. The improvements that it has made to your life then people will naturally flock towards your way of living and will then be generally interested.