When you think about minimalism, you might picture a closet with only ten color-coordinated items hanging neatly, or you might imagine a stark white living space that features nothing but a modern couch.

But minimalist living is less about a particular design aesthetic and more about a series of conscious lifestyle choices—ones that have direct impacts on the health and prosperity of the environment. Minimalist living, according to minimalist blogger and author Leo Baubauta, is “simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life.”

Though people generally adopt minimalist practices because they lead to a calmer, less stressful lifestyle, the benefits of minimalist living extend far beyond a radical shift in mindset.

By choosing to embrace minimalism in your home, you can take an active stand against our planet’s deterioration. Here are a few reasons why going minimalist is more earth-friendly.

reduce consumption

1. You’ll Consume Less.

When you make the conscious choice to be more mindful of your spending habits and only purchase items you absolutely need, you naturally consume less. Our planet’s resources are precious and finite. Using large amounts of gas, plastic, and other non-recyclable materials on a regular basis contributes to our already dangerous deficit of resources.

By borrowing a book from the local library instead of ordering a new one online, by re-using old wrapping paper for your friend’s birthday present, or by choosing not to buy a giant plastic-wrapped container of decorative seashells just because you can, you are playing a role—however small it may seem—in preserving the earth’s natural resources.

As Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist says, “The less we consume, the less damage we do to the environment. And that benefits everyone.”

reduce waste

2. You’ll Reduce Waste.

When you buy less, whether it’s food, clothes, or home decor, you inevitably waste less, too.

Think about it: when you don’t buy things you don’t need, you don’t end up with a hefty collection of cardboard boxes, plastic bags, paper clothing tags, and packing materials.

Though these items may seem too small or insignificant to cause serious damage, they add up over time, cluttering your home and filling up landfills.

If you make the choice to be intentional and deliberate about the things you bring into your home, you’ll end up with significantly less trash, which means sorting through the reduced waste you do have will become ten times easier and more efficient.

sustainable bamboo

3. You’ll Embrace Sustainable Products.

When you pare down the items in your home and leave only the essentials, you’ll begin to notice the quality and effectiveness of the items you have. For example, you might discard the majority of reusable water bottles you own, choosing to keep only your favorite 24-ounce blue bottle. But if this bottle is made from cheap, worn-down plastic—rather than glass, for example—it’s likely to deteriorate more quickly with frequent daily use, leaving you on the hunt for a new one.

If you make an effort to purchase sturdier, more sustainable items from the start, your cycle of consumption will be smaller.

Dan Moyer of Closet Factory recommends taking the extra time to make your home more environmentally friendly by installing energy-efficient lighting in your rooms and closets, and using recycled wood and bamboo in home improvement or remodeling projects.

“Using bamboo in your projects supports sustainability since the crop reproduces itself within six months, even after repeated harvesting,” says Moyer. Plus, Moyer says, not only do these choices greatly “reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint,” they’ll save you money over time, too.

environmental awareness

4. You’ll Be More Environmentally Aware.

Living with minimalist ideals forces you to examine your choices up-close to determine their merit. According to Edmundas Puckorius, co-founder of the sustainable design brand SKURA, when you practice minimalism you develop a deeper understanding of the effects of your choices.

“With conscious consumer[ism] comes a healthier lifestyle, and the chain reaction starts,” Puckorius says.

Making minimalist choices on a regular basis helps you cultivate the environmental consciousness and self-awareness needed to make more earth-friendly decisions, too—like carpooling to work, canceling your catalog subscriptions, switching to online banking, or limiting your shower time.

Paige Smith