Can a minimalist mindset help save the planet?

“Less is more, according to a growing movement of minimalists. They say a clean space can clear the head, but could it also draw a link between personal and planetary well-being?

Laptop sits on floor of bare room with only a few other objects (Imago-Images/Westend61/P. Dimitri)

If everybody lived in the same way as the average German, we would need almost three planet Earths. If we lived like Americans, it would be almost five. That’s according to calculations by the Global Footprint Network.

But what if people chose a different lifestyle — a less consumerist one filled with less stuff?

Read more: Our consumption choices are driving biodiversity loss 

Minimalist blogger and podcaster Elisa Stangl doesn’t have a couch or even a bed at home. She, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter sleep on Japanese tatami mats in their small flat in southern Germany. “We don’t own a lot,” she told DW.

Stangl adopted her minimalist lifestyle while still a student, for financial rather than environmental reasons. Travelling the world compounded her sense that she was better off living with less.

“I just learned that don’t need anything other than the things I have in my backpack,” she said. “So I figured, why should I need more when I’m at home?”

Now, Stangl says her main motivation is living mindfully. Having less stuff means she and her family can focus on what’s important to them. They need less money, and therefore have more time for hobbies like hiking and exploring nature.

Stangl and her family plan to move out of their apartment and into a converted van so they can spend more time traveling

But Stangl also believes a minimalist lifestyle goes hand in hand with environmental responsibility.

“Living a mindful life doesn’t only concern the individual,” she said. “If you get to know how to live mindfully, then you know that you have to respect nature, because you live with nature and it gives you something, and you have to give something back.”

Minimal lifestyles for personal rewards

Beyond the decluttering craze sparked by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo, there’s a growing interest in getting rid of stuff, with the idea that equates living more minimally with living more meaningfully. . . . .”

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