Adopting Minimalism for Environment

Adopting Minimalism for Environment

Our world is so surrounded with consumer products and services these days, that it prompts us every minute to buy something even if we don’t need it. This sort of behavior gives rise to consumerism. Consumerism is actually buying of commodities in excess of their usage/requirements, while the counter-concept is known as minimalism. Let’s understand how these two behaviors lead to impact our climate.

As we know, most of the world is online (i.e. connected to the internet) nowadays. This makes most of these online people (especially the ones dwelling in developing economies) become aware of the surrounding world, and how they are going to develop. Development means doing things less often through physical means and using the least amount of brain in doing productivity related tasks. This psychology of development is seeded by the controlling entities of the internet into these new internet users. This environment leads to creation of demand for technologies and devices which are advertised as advanced, smart and energy efficient. The people in developing economies start comparing their lifestyle with the ones in developed nations (where consumerism is gasping for breath). This demand created allows a room for ideas and advertisements, which are being bombarded on the internet. As we all know, the revenue model of most popular apps on the internet is advertisements. Continuous exposure to these advertisements controls our purchasing habits.

Let us take an example. Earlier, we used to have fountain pens, which had a brilliant concept of refilling ink. This was replaced by ball point pens with ready-to-use refills. Have you seen anyone buying refills for their pen? Then comes the digital age, where we rely on electronic gadgets, and replace these notebook and pen with tablets. These gadgets last a couple years or less. This continuous use-and-throw pattern is creating lots of unwanted waste known as garbage, and it is happening to be the biggest challenges of our times.

There’s only one example that has been provided here, to make you understand how producers are oversupplying the market and consumers, creating greed which is eventually taking us nowhere. We don’t have very successful and innovative technologies to tackle waste disposal, especially the e-waste (electronic waste).

Minimalism is an unconventional concept, which is based on enhanced productivity or efficiency of a system using the least amount of resources. This is also linked with the concept of 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle). If we are producing less waste, we have to worry less about the waste disposal.

Now we must move back to the core subject, “How these two things are related to Climate Change?”

Waste generated is essentially dumped in landfill sites, where most of the biodegradable waste creates biogas (contains 50% CH4 and 30% CO2; few of the GHGs). The waste that is non-biodegradable, is a nuisance in itself and is burned in most parts of the world. Burning of plastics and non-biodegradable polymers again emit CO2. The e-waste is not managed properly and may cause leakage of harmful radiations in the surrounding atmosphere. This itself is a threat to the environment.

A pile of electronic waste on a roadside in Guiyu, China.

On the other hand, if we reduce our necessities to the bare minimum, and use our brain instead of relying on latest technologies, we can set a good example for our upcoming generations. Instead of feeling left behind, we must think ourselves that how badly do we need that product, which we are already using. It’s just that the newer model comes with XYZ features, which essentially have nothing significant to offer.

This can be easily checked with a simple assessment. Ask yourself, ‘How many smartphones and smart electronic gadgets you’ve bought in past 5 years. If your answer surpasses 3, ask if all of it was necessary?’ Same thing applies to your food habits, your fashion sense, your personal vehicle and your overall personality. In order to keep up with your social status, you overspend on generating waste that is not at all your concern.

Obviously, why do you care when you’ve voted for some elected government to pick up your trash. But do you know that nature doesn’t understand any of this? This will hit us back in the most brutally unexpected way possible, without any warning signs. Let’s prepare ourselves for the consequences if we are not ready to change our habits.

Ajay Dixit

Ajay is currently working as consultant at Climate Connect Technologies Limited. He is an M.Sc in Environmental Sciences. An avid practitioner of Eco-friendly lifestyle himself, he likes to advocate same to the masses

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