The Benefits of Minimalism and the Impact of Consumer Culture on our lives and the Environment

by | Jul 4, 2023 | Lifestyle

Minimalism is arguably one of the most popular lifestyle trends of our post-pandemic times. Although it has been around for a long time, the isolation of lockdowns meant that more and more people were re-evaluating what they had, and needed. Although not limited to consumption alone, minimalism promotes simplicity and clarity. One of the most notable aspects of minimalism is the interior design aesthetic, consisting of clean lines and neutral colors[1]. Regarding lifestyles, minimalism entails purchasing fewer things, consuming fewer things, and owning fewer things[2]. Simultaneously, minimalism encourages us to be mindful and intentional about what we do own and consume.

In Pakistan, conversations about the minimalistic aesthetic have been going on for a few years now. In 2019, Karachi-based interior designer Beena Asim noted that the trend was slowly being appreciated and adopted by Pakistani consumers. She explained that minimalism focused on conveying the “message of simplicity”[3]. This aesthetic and the focus on decluttering have been shown to improve mental and emotional well-being.  Research conducted by Duke University suggests that most people opt for a minimalist lifestyle because of financial reasons or because it aided their emotional well-being. Interestingly, only 10% of participants said that they were considering the environmental benefits of minimalism[4].

Despite this, minimalism can be extremely beneficial for the environment. 

Minimalism’s Antidote To Overproduction And Consumption

Bed with multiple pillows

Human consumption trends have been causing irreparable damage to the environment. A 2015 study reported that household consumption alone contributed to more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions[5]. In 2017 it was reported that energy contributes to 46% of Pakistan’s greenhouse gas emissions; 26% of this was attributed to energy consumption while 25% came from manufacturing[6]. A minimalist lifestyle mitigates these trends because it necessitates a reduction in consumption, which reduces demand for the industrial sector as well[7]. By reducing the clutter in our lives, minimalism also frees up time so that we can use what we have more efficiently. By reducing the number of gadgets we own, the number of light fixtures, and when possible, opting for smaller homes, we can reduce the energy consumption currently depleting finite resources.

Intentional Consumption And Joy

Pink background with apple devices in front

Albeit not identifying as a minimalist herself, Marie Kondo’s focus on ‘decluttering’ highlights an essential part of the minimalist lifestyle[8]. Minimalism necessitates intentional consumption and ownership[9]. The individual impact of this can be quite positive, as it reduces stress levels and increases emotional well-being [10]. However, for countries like Pakistan, the benefits could extend to the community level as well. The 2023 Circularity Gap Report identifies Pakistan as a Build country considering its low Human Development Index (HDI) score and needs to build an economy that satisfies its society’s basic needs[11]. An important issue that countries like Pakistan face is that even though they don’t contribute to global waste in a significant manner, overconsumption and waste mismanagement mean that local quality of life is impacted. The report encourages Pakistanis to “buy what you need” as reducing purchases can help with the clutter at a societal level. For countries like Pakistan then, minimalism isn’t just about individual well-being. In fact, it can help at a community and even national level.

Minimalism And The Circular Economy

Wooden surroundings with kitchen sink

Another important aspect of minimalism is making the most of what you already own[12]. Reusing and recycling products and materials, and donating as opposed to discarding are hence intrinsic. This helps support a circular economy, where the life of a product is increased and thus it does not end up in landfill sites. According to Circularity Gap, only 7.5% of the global economy is circular[13]. The 2023 Circularity Gap Report notes that countries like Pakistan are experiencing rapid urbanization, and hence have to build infrastructure. Yet, mismanaged construction has meant that non-renewable resources are depleted[14]. It recommends countries like Pakistan to opt for circular models, where materials are reused so that scarce resources are preserved. Minimalism has been gaining traction because of its design aesthetic. But the minimalist lifestyle is about so much more than it. At its core, it is about simple living, where one is intentional and mindful about what we consume. For countries like Pakistan, this way of living won’t just benefit individuals but communities as well. 















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