I always say that minimalism isn’t just about our possessions. It can be about minimizing all sorts of things like our social calendar, our electronic communications, the number of decisions we make in a day or the garbage we produce.
Today, I have an interview with Celia that I’m excited to share with you. Celia is a recent graduate who, upon finishing school and setting up her first home, seized the opportunity to craft a home space and home ethic founded in simplicity and anchored in her environmental values. This led her to set up a minimalist space and zero waste life. Zero waste can seem, at best, intimidating and, at worst, impossible, but Celia has a way of sharing her lifestyle that is humble and practical – which you can read about on her awesome zero waste blog known as Litterless. I encourage you to bookmark her blog when you visit it, she is always posting very simple, useful, implementable tips for living garbage free. We can take a big leap or small steps but we should all be working towards making less garbage each and every day. Less is best. Aside from writing about and inspiring others to live more lightly upon the earth, Celia loves walking, yoga, reading, cooking, traveling and exploring cities. I hope you enjoy the read and are inspired to share!
Hi Celia! Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What’s your background?
I’m in my twenties, loving my first few years out of college and the freedom that comes with them – to travel, to have time in the day to spend as I wish, to build my life exactly as I want. These are really good years.
What part of the world do you live in?
I live in the United States, in Chicago, which I love. It’s big enough to have really great public transportation but still be very walkable – both things that help streamline my daily routine.
I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you? And, in what ways are you a minimalist?
I want my home to be filled with simple, useful, beautiful things that I love and that are well cared for, so that I can spend my time and money on pursuits that matter more to me than possessions, like hanging out with family and friends, heading outdoors, reading, relaxing. I want to make sure the objects I own support rather than hinder these activities. Additionally, it’s important to me that my home is a calming, relaxing place that isn’t crammed with stuff; I want it to be a place where I live life, not where I store an overabundance of things.
Your lifestyle is, in part, focused on waste, that is, not creating any. Can you tell me more about your journey to a zero waste lifestyle? How did you get started minimizing waste? And how far have you come?
When I graduated from college and moved to my first apartment, I was faced with so many choices about how to live my life, how to set up my daily routines, how to do these adult tasks I’d rarely done before. I knew that I wanted my life to reflect my environmental values, and part of that meant reducing the amount of trash and recycling I made. To start, I set up a composting system so that I didn’t have to throw away organic waste, and began trying to reduce the amount of trash I made while grocery shopping. Now I don’t even own a trash can! An unexpected benefit of zero waste is that it’s made my life so much more efficient – I purchase what I need without packaging, and I no longer have to deal with a constant influx of disposable products into my home that I must then sort/donate/throw away. Not surprisingly, I don’t miss taking out the trash one bit.
What is your story, how did you start on a path toward a minimalist lifestyle?
I came to minimalism hoping to free up resources from an environmental perspective, and also to save time in my own life by simplifying my home and daily routines. As I moved towards becoming zero waste and thinking more about how to reduce my environmental footprint, I wanted to make sure that things I wasn’t using could be used by someone else while they still had life in them – so I began donating them. At the same time, I was feeling the pressures of my first job and wanting to find more hours in the day, and I thought that simplifying my home would help with that. And it has! I spend much less time cleaning and organizing now, which is such a boon.
Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?
I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet in general, but one thing I do wholeheartedly love about it is the fact that it introduced me to minimalism and zero waste in the first place. The beautiful blog No Trash Project provided my initial impetus for going zero waste – I love how thoughtfully and carefully its writer, Colleen, thinks about the objects she owns. A few (of many) more favorite inspirations – Zero Waste Home, Reading My Tea Leaves, and JaneJoJulia.
In what ways/areas do you struggle with keeping things minimal? What is your weakness?
I have what some would consider an absurd number of books – but it works for me. I read constantly, am a fast reader, and often re-read beloved books many times, so having a well-filled bookshelf is a must. However, I no longer purchase books (even secondhand books!). Instead, I lean heavily on the library and swap books often with friends.
What have been some unexpected experiences, positive or negative, you’ve had with minimalism?
Parting with objects at first was hard and absolutely did not come naturally to me; I unconsciously associated my possessions (even unused, unneeded ones) with a feeling of security. But, unexpectedly, the more I downsized the more I came to really love minimalism and to be able to really see its benefits – how it helped me have more time, a more lovely and calming home, a feeling of lightness. The deeper I got into minimalism, the easier it became to identify and let go of excess, and now I know I’ll never go back to living with clutter and things I don’t love or need.
What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?
Some people (like Marie Kondo) advocate getting rid of everything you don’t need all at once, in one giant marathon session. That approach works for some people, but I kind of think it’s crazy! Going slowly and getting rid of things over a longer period of time has allowed me to to be more thoughtful about what I keep and what I pass along. Slowly decluttering (truly, over a period of several years) has also been a big help in making sure I’m donating each item to where it will best be reused or recycled (instead of dumping a huge load of random things on overcrowded local thrift stores or, worse, in the trash). I’m a big believer that the downsizing process should be approached with an eye to sustainability (here I’ve shared a few tips on how to do that!), and going slowly has allowed me to stay focused on that.
Thank you Celia! Readers make sure to check our Celia’s blog Litterless it is a great resource for living simply and garbage free. You can also find Celia on Instagram @golitterless and on Twitter @go_litterless.
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