Beginner’s Guide To Minimalism

Tiny people in big places – Frozen minimal landscape with reflections

Shifting to a minimalistic lifestyle is an exciting chapter of your life, however, it can also be frustrating, exhausting, and even intimidating. Many people who decided to start this style of living have great reasons that will improve their quality of life and also help to save our planet.

But before we jump on the hard part, there’s one thing you should remember. It won’t be an easy transition, you should prepare yourself for the challenges. Minimalism and zero-waste lifestyle are big lifestyle shifts. If you don’t tread lightly and allow yourself to make mistakes, you might find yourself quitting.

This is what this guide to minimalism is for, we are here to hold your hand, guide you, and walk you slowly until you reach your goal. Keep in mind that this is not an overnight change or success, you will be challenged and frustrated and you will make mistakes, but that’s okay, learn from it.

FAQs about minimalism

I think it’s safe to assume that you landed on this article because you are starting to wonder what minimalism is and how you can incorporate it into your life especially if you are heading toward a greener lifestyle.

In this section of the guide to minimalism, we will answer basic questions about this lifestyle. If you have more questions that we miss to include, leave us a comment in the comment section below.

What is minimalism

Minimalism or being a minimalist means having fewer possessions in life. It means leaving a simpler life and providing spaces in your life for things that will help you become happier, calmer, in order, and at peace.

A few samples of minimalist people are not using a car, not buying the newest gadget, having a gadget that does many things, only owning 2-3 pairs of shoes or bags, not having 3 different kinds of cereals, or even having fewer decorations at home.

What’s the bad side of minimalism

Just like many things in our life, minimalism can also have a negative impact. Some people who become obsessed with this lifestyle often become critical of other people who aren’t living minimalistic.

Sometimes people take or understand minimalism in an extreme way. For example, some people might think you cannot or must only have a thing you need – basic needs. And that’s not really what it is.

Being minimalist also mean being more understanding of people around you. When you have fewer possessions, you become more aware of other people. This should include becoming more understanding of other people’s needs. All of us have different needs.

If you don’t need a car, that’s good for you, however, there are people where the car is a necessity, it could be for practical reasons or health reasons – and that’s fine.

When you start living a minimalist lifestyle, you should also practice caring for yourself first before others. The phrase minding your own business is the easiest way to describe this situation. It doesn’t mean caring for other people, instead, gives space in your mind to become understanding of the people around you. If they want to drive a car, that’s okay, it’s their decision and it doesn’t directly affect their life.

Minimalism vs Zero Waste

So, minimalism and a zero-waste lifestyle overlap in many things. However, the biggest difference between these two is pretty simple. Minimalism is buying and owning fewer material things while zero waste means if you buy something, you make sure you use it for multiple purposes and make the things you have to throw or consider waste as little as possible (or zero in this case).

A good example of zero waste (a warning to people who are sensitive to animal cruelty), is buying a chicken in older times or poorer countries. In the old times, when people buy a chicken, they use almost everything. From head to toe. People will eat all parts of the chicken and use the feathers for boas, feather fans, ornament, or decorative accessories – and that’s zero waste.

With minimalism, you consume less, you buy less, and you own fewer material things. Join zero-waste forums and groups on social media for more support and tips.

Reasons to be minimalist


There are many reasons to be a minimalist, it could be for your own good, the people around you, or for our one and only planet to name a few. In this section, I will list why you should consider shifting to a minimalist lifestyle.

You will realize material things do not equate to happiness

Overconsuming doesn’t always equate to consumers never getting satisfied. Usually, it actually goes down to companies manipulating us to think we need a new model of smartphone every year (when we all know the benefits of unplugging!). Once we buy a specific item, we take care of it like it’s the best thing we own, and then after a few months, it will just become one of the things we have at home.

Material things get old, go out of style, and become irrelevant. After a few months with your new tech gadgets, one day, you will just wake up and realize it doesn’t make you happy anymore. Then the cycle begins again, you will look into new shiny stuff then the big companies will pick this up and market force you into things you don’t need.

Once you set your mind to being a minimalist, you will start being a smart consumer and spend your hard earned money somewhere else. Impulse buying will start to wear off, and the need to have the coolest gadget becomes a feeling from the past.

Fewer house chores

Having less stuff at home also means fewer things to clean and organize. For example, if you live alone and only have three plates, you will find your sink less busy and often cleaner. Because of the lack of clean plates to use, it forces you to wash the ones in your sink.

The same goes for clothes, cabinets, shoes, and even children’s toys. Do you just hate the top of cabinets, tables, or kitchen counters? The more you have any of these, the more often you have to wipe the dust that settled on them.

You start to take care of your things

If you only have one pair of sports shoes, one pair of casual sandals, and one winter boot. You will start to value them more, clean them often, and make sure if there are broken parts, you will get them fixed right away.

Less cause of stress

Having fewer things in life means having fewer things in life that will cause you stress. Oh, the TV in the kitchen is broken? Damn, have to get someone to fix that.

Simplicity becomes attractive

Once you decided to be a minimalist, you find beauty in simplicity. You will find beauty in big spaces. You will start looking at everything in a much simpler way.

Start saving money

Not letting impulse buying take over your life will save you lots of money. Being minimalist will make you take a step back, think, and do your research before actually buying something.

Healthier lifestyle

Instead of spending your time getting consumed with seeing the newest movies or shopping in the high street or getting busy with promotion sales. With a minimalist lifestyle, you will find yourself going for long walks, and eating simpler but healthier meals at home, and you will realize how quiet and calm your mental health is.

Contributing to saving our planet

Last but not the least, consuming less will definitely give you the satisfaction that you are helping to save our planet. Buying, having, and consuming fewer things helps to reduce trash filling the landfills and overheating the planet.

Guide to Minimalism: How to start being a minimalist

Now to the good part of this guide to minimalism. In this section, I will walk you step-by-step through how to start with minimalist so as to not overwhelm you and make sure you reach your goal.

Educate yourself

First and foremost, it’s crucial to educate yourself from the basics up to knowing what things could go wrong. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but if someone who going through a big change in their lifestyle starts to feel overwhelmed, there’s a higher chance that one will give up.

Educating and preparing yourself for the easy and hard parts of lifestyle changes is important. It keeps your mind ready and gives you the assurance that things will be okay in the end and the result will be worth it.

Read about the beginner’s guide to minimalism, what are the basic steps you can take? For example, segregate things that you want to keep and want to donate. Next, find places or charities that could use the stuff that you no longer need.

Get inspiration

Go online and look at a minimalist home. This will give you an idea and inspiration on what your new home could look like.

Analyze what you have

Next, sit down and take a moment to look at the items you own. Start analyzing which things you could live with. You don’t need to make a list yet. Just soak in the material things you have at home and which things you have that could do multi-task or purpose so you can let go of the items you won’t be needing.

For example, I like baking but not to the point that I need a bread maker or electric hand mixer. I enjoy running, but I don’t need 3 different running shoes.

Baby steps

Take things easy. This change doesn’t happen overnight. There will be moments that you will feel discouraged or you will start to think it’s impossible. When you make mistakes, forgive yourself and pick up where you left off.

For example, you decided to keep two TVs, one in the living room and one in the bedroom and you felt guilty. Instead of beating yourself up, start observing which TV you use the least and see if you can donate or sell one of them.

Define what you need

Next, make a list. One column for things you need and things you could live without or products where purpose or task can be done with another product. For example, a laptop versus a TV. You can easily let go of the TV and keep your laptop where you can do research, and watch the news, and TV shows.

To not overwhelm you, add a maybe column if you are not ready to let go of that thing yet or not sure if there is furniture that can do its task. Like, a computer table may not be needed since you can easily use your dining table.

Multi-task products

Take note of the products or furniture that can multitask. However, if you don’t have one, it would be okay to get one instead. I know this sounds overconsuming, however, instead of keeping a scanning machine and a printer, you can instead sell them and get an all-in-1 printer, scanner, and photocopy machine.

One thing I discovered about the rice cooker, was when I run out of gas, I was able to slow-cook chicken wings, cook rice, and make butter and garlic vegetables in it.

Avoid impulse buy

Impulse buying is something I personally struggled with a lot. During my full-time traveling days, it was much easier to be minimalist. I was living with a carry-on backpack, it weighs about 7-8 kilograms and that was enough for me. When I finished my backpacking, I still had the same clothes and travel items I packed when I left.

Now that I stay home, I find impulse buying harder to control especially when it comes to cooking materials and gym/workout items (gym clothes, baking containers, etc). But what worked for me was to find out what triggers my impulse buying. For people who love shopping, check out these tips on affordable sustainable products.

What I learned was social media definitely was the number one trigger, if I look up running shoes, for example, my social media accounts will be flooded with them for weeks. So now, what I do is I go on incognito when searching for items like that or I use a different device where I don’t have my social media installed and the device has a different email address than what I have on my main phone.

Another thing that worked for controlling my impulse to need to buy is to add the item to my cart but I don’t check them out. I let it stew there for a few weeks even months. Eventually, I don’t have the feeling that I need to buy them or I was able to talk myself out of buying the item I didn’t need in the first place.

If you feel overwhelmed, maybe start with these things you could stop buying. I know that this might not work for everyone, but the point is, to find your triggers. What triggers you to buy this product in the middle of the night? Then make a list of how to avoid setting off these triggers.

Practice the 5 Rs


5 Rs mean refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. Which is often used in a zero-waste lifestyle but works like magic with minimalism too.

  • refuse – refuse to get sucked into marketing ploys of sales and promotions, if your washing machine is still working without threatening your health or safety issues, you don’t need to buy the hottest washing machine on the market
  • reduce – if you really want to buy something, it’s better to get the one with the best quality so it lasts a long time and you won’t have to throw it away just after a few months or years, reduce the amount of waste you create
  • reuse – if you bought a ready-to-use pasta sauce and it came with a glass jar, make sure to use this jar, either as a pencil holder or even a container for your children’s chalk
  • recycle – make sure to segregate your trash properly before sending them to the garbage collector, if your area doesn’t practice recycling, check some places where you can send your plastic bottles, old newspapers, etc – you can also look into getting second-hand stackable recycling bins
  • rot – this falls under the topic of compost, I understand that some people don’t do gardening, if so, you can contact companies that collect food scraps

Find your people

One thing to make sure you don’t give up too early or won’t feel too overwhelmed or feel alone in this journey – find your people. Perhaps your family or friends are not in the same place as you and don’t understand your decision and that’s okay. Instead, find your support group. If there is not a minimalist community in your area, there are hundreds of Facebook, Reddit, and other online forums filled with people who are in the same headspace as you.

Take a breather

If feeling overloaded with everything about minimalism, it’s okay to take a breather. If you find yourself jammed between tasks or decisions, take a walk, listen to music, meditate, or eat ice cream. To make sure you get to your goal, it’s important to acknowledge when you feel exhausted and just need a break. You don’t need to be perfect, just need to have enough motivation that you can do it.

Final thoughts

Any changes in lifestyle are a big deal. It will take not only physical challenge but will challenge you mentally and emotionally too. But remember, after this, you will feel much at peace, comfortable, and proud of yourself.

Being minimalist can be very hard in the beginning, we were shaped by society to need more, want more, to be happy. There’s a lot of unlearning to do, it will take time but you will get there. Remember why you started, make it a mantra, and be kind to yourself – it will help you get there.

I hope that you found this guide to minimalism helpful. I will keep updating this with more tips as discover new things that can make this lifestyle fun, exciting, and educating.