I came up with the term "Eco-Minimal" in response to so many of the terms that have sprung up as a result of the Environmental fad, like "Green", "Eco-Friendly", etc. Companies are using these terms loosely, green-washing customers into thinking that they are doing more good for the environment than they actually are. The term Eco-Minimal, for me, refers to the fact that people can probably achieve the greatest reduction in their own impact on the environment by reducing their consumption. For me, this means Reduce first. Then reuse. Recycling as a last option. The goals would be:
- Avoiding buying things, at all.
- Avoiding buying new - opt for used instead.
- Only buying things when needed - avoid frivolous purchases.
- Sharing and borrowing.
- Freecycle.org is my friend.
- Reusing and repurposing - either DIY or by purchasing items made from repurposed materials.
When I say that I am trying to make my wedding eco-minimal, I mean that for each decision I make, I ask myself a series of questions.
- Do I truly NEED this item or wedding component?
- Is it necessary? (e.g. garter, excessive decorations)
- What harm is done creating this product for a wedding? (e.g. cut flowers, food)
- Will it get wasted, and thrown out? Or can it be used again? (e.g. cake, centrepieces, favours)
- Does it use new materials, or can it be adapted to use materials that would otherwise go in the garbage? (e.g. apparel, decorations, centrepieces, favours)
If it doesn't pass that series of questions, we don't include that in our wedding. For example, we're not having a cake, because it's more likely to be thrown out than a smaller series of various cakes, pies, and other desserts.
When I say I try to live my life eco-minimally, I mean that I try very hard not to buy items unless I truly need them (I'm working on this - as Kyle says, malls are my kryptonite). And I do try to buy used, although I could be better at that. I also try to avoid throwing anything in the garbage that could potentially be used by someone else. This includes broken electronics (someone out there probably knows how to fix it), broken glass (there are many crafty people out there), etc. I try to reduce and reuse before I recycle. The obvious here is avoiding buying items that have excessive packaging (I don't buy individually wrapped treats, for the most part), and repurposing packaging when the product is used up (I have a colourful collection of empty body butter containers I use for jewelery and small items, pasta sauce lids act as tea bag holders).