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Minimalist Zero-Waste: Expectations vs. Reality

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

We don't mean to break your bubble but it's just what it is. Deal with it.

Zero-waste is often paired with #minimalist living, as you aim to reduce the future things and disposables you don't need in your life. Consequently, you sure do reduce the amount of items you own as you carefully think twice before purchasing anything you worry you might end up having on your hands and not need regularly. Here are the top 5 minimalist expectations (and the reality) you should get over.

minimalist Zero-waste Expectation #1: No clutter ever again

So you've emptied your cupboards and drawers and purged down to the very essentials that you know you will use and reuse.

Hopefully you donated or recycled everything you wanted to say goodbye to (more tips on how to do that here and here) - there is more to it than the #KonMari Method. The reality though, is that you will eventually, re-clutter.

Despite all your best intentions... you cannot prevent the people around you from bringing back holiday souvenirs, sending postcards (yes some people still do), trinkets, random gifts, the occasional free tote you really don't need but ended up with anyways, or yet another free reusable #straw (can we just please stop with the blimmin' free bamboo / metal / wood / silicone / glass / just-anything-reusable straws?). So you will need to maintain regular declutter sessions. Sorry!

minimalist Zero-waste Expectation #2: not used recently, so you'll never miss it

This is the biggest mistake ever. While it could be true for most clothes (again, it's not because you didn't go swimming this year or skiing that you should throw those bathing suits or ski jackets away), there are a ton of things around your home you may want to hold onto. In the spree of minimalising your life, you'll be tempted to over-declutter... Personally, some of us at barePack are super super creative. No exaggeration - Roxane has lugged over 4 cities her 3 Ikea wheely boxes of art stuff (and that was already a purge... the other 7 boxes remain at her mother's... #guilty ) and while a lot of it she hasn't used since she graduated, every now and then she pops her head into the box, especially after a recent declutter when she feels free to indulge in self-therapeutic art projects. What she did purge... well she ended up buying again. Similarly, some of us had gym equipment we didn't use, and then go back into the habit of exercising and realised we had to re-equip ourselves. Bottom line: yes use the time factor as an assessment tool but bear in mind that you'd be best giving yourself the benefit of the doubt if doubt there is and a bit more time to part.

minimalist Zero-waste Expectation #3: all you see will✨ #sparkjoy

If you listen to Marie Kondo (which you probably have, and if not, see below), you'll want to keep only the items that make you happy and #sparkjoy: a fond memory, something visually delightful... That is perfect because it makes everything so simple. It also leaves a lot of room for some major clear out mistakes that you will regret, for sure. I mean, from the very obvious iron board (we even hate the sight of it) to the less certain set of dumbbells, there are some things which without you will struggle, even if they are not exactly features you proudly exhibit. I don't know about you, but while a pair of dumbbells definitely doesn't elevate my body cells and transcend my being, they certainly aren't worth buying more than once. ✨✨✨

Random: we made a T-shirt 🐱cat tent and it is pretty cool, the cat likes it, and it's up-cycled, but doesn't really delight us visually, so we're thinking we might upgrade to this to salvage the cardboard boxes we had our #barePack kits delivered in:

minimalist Zero-waste Expectation #4: forever clear surfaces and countertops

Surfaces with nothing on them? Some things are so impractical to put away every day and take out again. Just because you have gotten rid of lots of rubbish in your house, have reached a plastic-free, freebie-free, packaging-free life, it doesn't mean you will suddenly live in an Instagram-worthy world. When we see all those perfectly empty (and often really white... like, ridiculously white) houses and rooms (with impeccable crease-free linen.. how?), just remember: expectations, not reality. Reality is they have spent 24 hours taking pictures of an immaculate setting that took them another 24 hours to prep, in order to have 24 days of IG content. If not, we sincerely hope they will have some medical follow-up to their OCD habits and find time to live life rather than tidy it away (harsh, but oh so true). Exception might be if you live in a #tinyhouse simply because you actually don't have space for any other solution. But what are the odds of you reading this and actually living in a home on wheels? (Excuse us if you do, and tell us to re-write this!)

minimalist Zero-waste Expectation #5: you will know exactly what you need

Now, we hear that after decluttering your home you start to understand what you need and what you don't and how to live on just the essentials. Well in theory, sure... if we were all static personalities that never grew and explored different interests over our lifetime. Guess what? That's not real. You might have loved living in a world of baggy jeans and heavy metal branded Ts during your rebellions teens, or a Barbie like world of excessive make-up, you probably grew out of those phases at some point. Similarly, you will find passions and interests that come and go, and thank goodness for that curiosity. Therefore, it's normal to acquire new possessions over time, and it's not something to feel guilty about in your journey towards zero-waste. It would be a sad life indeed to limit yourself and your impulses to try new things just to keep all your life neatly packed in a box. Instead, think of how you can creatively solve this, buy looking for second-hand items, and when you really feel you're no longer in need of some of the things you own, in turn look for whom might want them. Think of schools for special art materials, a gym, a local nursery, or even an aged care home or hospital for books, soft toys, puzzles and art? Embrace your life phases and see how to be the most responsible buyer.

♣ Zero-waste life is not just black and white! ♣