Minimalist is becoming a trendy term and a well-embraced and followed lifestyle and habit. I myself love many parts of the minimalist approach. As my kids get older and I rid myself of their “stuff”, I find the idea of managing fewer physical objects and opting for simplicity where I can incredibly refreshing.
This approach doesn’t mean you have to sell all your belongings and move into a tiny house. Instead, change your living with a few of the basic fundamentals from a minimalist lifestyle and you’ll see the impact on your indoor environment as well.
But there’s more to the minimalist lifestyle than simply fewer possessions, from what I can see in my own life, the effects of this practice have created a healthier space for me and my family. As I make strides ahead in my own household, I see my family (and especially my kids) benefiting from fewer “things” and less stuff. I also have embraced the idea of “Simpler is Better” from my beauty routine to my kitchen. Products with fewer ingredients, and often times homemade products have slowly replaced my store-bought extra-long-shelf life products. These simpler products contain safe ingredients that aren’t polluting my indoor air. Let’s take a look at all the ways a minimalist approach to homeownership is helping many create healthier homes.
FEWER, SIMPLER PRODUCTS
As I mentioned above, I myself have been slowly replacing my store-bought, unresearched products with carefully thought out purchases or homemade replacements. What’s the purpose of this? I’m a firm believer in “Simplest is best”. I’m not sure when the switch happened or if it was just gradual over time, but the idea that complexity is key is overrated. If a product has ingredients I can pronounce and that I know what they are, it’s a win. When a product has additives to preserve the shelf life and synthetic fragrances to cover up the chemical smell, I avoid it at all costs.
Choose products with basic ingredients -- they clean just as well and they are saving your indoor air quality. For example, a cleaning solution made with vinegar and water with a few essential oils adds no harmful chemicals to your indoor air. This problem of polluted indoor air is becoming a real concern and a recent study pinpoints household cleaners as a big culprit. I went through my cleaning products and disposed of the ones I absolutely didn’t need and then worked slowly to replace my necessary cleaners with toxic-free options. I now have just 3 cleaners that use instead of an entire cabinet full.
You can easily make your own cleaning products or spend some time looking around EWG’s database to determine what is best for your family.
FEWER DUST-COLLECTING OBJECTS
I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I am no stranger to shelves upon shelves of chachkies. As a little girl I had displays of dolls, picture frames and my latest book obsession lining each and every free area of my room. Luckily my style has changed drastically and I’ve opted for clean shelves with few dust-attracting figurines, vases and art.
Not only is it pleasing to the eye to have a fresh, clean, uncluttered home, but it’s also great for your indoor environment. If you’ve been around for the last couple weeks, you may have read my blog post about dust and how it’s actually more dangerous than you might think. In a nutshell, dust contains bacteria, pesticides and toxins from not only around the house, but also from outdoors. Once the dust enters your home it can move around and settle on objects quite easily. If the areas aren’t wet-dusted, they become a source for lowering the indoor air quality and potentially causing areas for problematic dust mites or allergy inducers. (You can read up on what exactly is in your dust here)
When you have fewer objects around your house, there are less areas for dust to collect, leaving your indoor air clean and unaffected.
LESS TECHNOLOGY = FEWER ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS
With fewer devices around, you’re protecting yourself and your family from the strong electric and magnetic fields that come with them.
Electric and magnetic fields in themselves are not bad, but what affects our bodies is the strength of those fields. The closer we are to an electronic device, the stronger the field, and the more our bodies are affected. Our bodies view these strong fields a stressor and in turn our bodies react accordingly, raising cortisol levels, disrupting sleep patterns and more.
Of course in our truly electronic world, it’s almost impossible to remove electronic devices, but by limiting our exposure, we are doing our bodies and mind a HUGE favor.
Ways you can reduce exposure at home would be unplugging and turning off any electronic devices when not in use. Simply limit the time spent in front of or on a device if possible. And last, if you can get rid of electronic devices all together (like that third television?), do it.
If you want even more information on this often-times confusing topic, I highly recommend you look into the D-Tox Academy.
LESS FURNITURE (WITH FEWER TOXINS)
The minimalist approach goes well beyond the products and solutions we buy and drills right down to the furniture inside. The idea of minimalist living is to live with much less than we’ve been told we need as consumers. Many homes built in the 80s and 90s have two sitting rooms, a formal dining room and an eat in kitchen. We’ve been told we need these spaces and we need to fill them with the appropriate furniture. But this is simply not the case any longer. If you can get away with less furniture and not overfilling a room, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to your indoor air quality and dust levels.
Not only does less furniture play a role, but purchasing any new furniture with fewer materials and toxins plays an even bigger role when it comes to the indoor air quality of your home.
As we know, the minimalist idea of simplifying can be accomplished on many fronts. Furniture is no exception to this rule. Many run of the mill furniture pieces contain toxins like formaldehyde, petroleum products, chemical flame retardants and VOCs. THese all play a part in the quality of your indoor air and environment. The more simple the furniture is, and the more non-toxic products that are used, the safer it is for your home and family.
TRUSTED FURNITURE BRANDS
One of the great habits a minimalist lifestyle offers is embracing the idea of making fewer purchases. This is enhanced by choosing to purchase items that are well-made and toxic free. Anything from clothing to textiles, kitchen gadgets to personal care products. The idea is less is better. This will not only help your pocketbook, but in turn your indoor environment, just like all the other habits and lifestyle changes listed here.
By purchasing less you’ll be bringing fewer unknown toxins into your home. Even when a product states it is toxin-free, there is still a risk that it was manufactured in a building where toxic chemicals and materials are used. There’s also a risk of these safe products or household items being shipped with a harmful product or chemical. This means any purchase you make, you could be unknowingly bring unhealthy elements into your home.
Opting for reusing what you have already, re-purposing furniture and items as well as using something up before purchasing more can really help when it comes to purchases.
The fewer things you have coming into your house, the safer and healthier your indoor air will be.