How appropriate to make a resolution on Earth Day/Arbor Day! It dawned on me in the morning before work that Earth Day and minimalism often fall in the same circles. And with Arbor Day following closely on the calendar, I knew that spending time in nature should catalyze a resolution or something of that sort. I see the relevance of my goals as a minimalist to think eco-consciously combine with the lifestyle choices I have made.
I love camping and spending time in nature, so it was only a matter of time before I would realize how closely linked are the environment and my pursuit of minimalism. Some of my first encounters with minimalism come from my group camping experiences in the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota.
My trip packing lists have always held the value that ultralight and minimal items are the best way to go when venturing out into the wilderness. The thought is that we pack only the necessities; there is no room for a bunch of luxury items to float around at the top of the pack. It values Leave No Trace principles (see: Leave No Trace official website) and inspires creative means to take care of your needs and the needs of others. Paddling and camping in the BWCA means portaging (carrying all of your belongings over a segment of land). Portage trails range from 5 to over 550 rods. A rod is the standard of measurement: approximately the length of a canoe. In perspective, 550 rods is a bit over 2 miles. Not only does ultra-lite and minimalist camping prevent waste of space, it also cuts down the weight of the Duluth packs we carry on portages, which definitely is a game-changer when the going gets tough!
Minimalism in camping has led me to the conclusion that I do not need a lot of stuff to be happy. I value the items I bring into the woods, learn to steward them, and appreciate each item as an important tool.
I have applied the same lesson that I learned “in the bush” to my life back home. After I initially assessed my belongings, I determined that I could cut my wardrobe in half due to the pile-up of a lot of “extras.” I used my bullet journal to make more space for the things I love – running, exploring, studying, reading – and cut back on the waste of time. My excitement to pursue what I enjoy also led me to complete daily tasks quickly and efficiently. I limited my showers to conserve water, I spent less time inside my house to save power, and found creative ways to warm up if the weather turned chilly.
I am looking forward to minimizing my spending on groceries by starting a garden with my family. Not only will the produce be healthier, the vegetation will promote clean air, flowers will encourage pollination and health of bees, and gardening relieves stress. Get a plant…save a life!
As minimalists, let us not forget how important our resources are to our lives. Let us not take nature for granted – it is our home. Let us use Earth Day and Arbor Day to make a resolution to support our environment, to promote conservation of our natural resources, and to treat nature as a classroom so we continue to grow. Pass it on!