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4 Ways Owning Less Helps You & The Environment


Years ago, when I first started my simplicity journey, I read the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. This book is a modern classic of the environmental movement, recommended to me by my eco-savvy friend Melissa, who cautioned that it was “a little extreme.” She was right. I loved many of the concepts in the book, but I’m still not convinced to make my own mascara, ha!

Yet, as I read, I realized how closely environmentalism and minimalism were intertwined. Johnson inspired me to make small eco-friendly changes, like using cloth napkins and bringing my own mug to Starbucks, but she also pushed me to make some minimalist changes as well.

Hence, for years after reading, I owned just one pair of shorts.


Johnson owns one pair of shorts and she lives in California, for Pete’s sake. I live in Ohio, where shorts are not appropriate clothing nine months of the year.

I’d like to share with you 4 reasons I decided to have just one pair of shorts. Perhaps this will inspire you to have “just one” of something in your life.

1. I wore them all the time anyway.

When I looked at my shorts collection, this pair was always on top. The rest were too short, too long, or could only be worn on temperamental days, such as the ever-elusive “skinny days” or “days in which I’m sure I won’t spill anything on these white shorts.” (Note: I was usually wrong about those days.) If I wasn’t wearing my other pairs, why keep them?

2. It’s easier to have less. 

This is the reason I went minimalist in the first place:

The less stuff you have, the easier your life is.

If your kids have less toys, clean-up is easier. If you have less dishes, your cupboards are easier to clean. If you have less clothes, it’s easy to decide what you’re wearing that day. Like you, I’m a busy mom and I don’t have the luxury of spending 20 or 30 minutes putting together an outfit. I’m happy if I’m wearing clothes (and if they’re clean? Bonus!).

3. Speaking of cleaning…

I washed these shorts about once a week. I’d wear a casual sundress or skirt on wash days. And if the shorts got dirty before then? I just washed them. We live in the blessed era of washing and drying machines, so it really didn’t take that long. (Plus, knowing that my only pair of shorts was in the laundry was a good reminder to get those clothes out of the dryer!)

4. It’s not necessarily forever.

Even I can be a bit of a wuss when it comes to getting rid of things. When I selected my one pair of shorts, I put the others in a box in my closet, a kind of a clothing purgatory, where I let them sit for awhile to decide if I could truly live without them. They hung out there for awhile and then I eventually donated them.

In the years since, I’ve let these shorts go and added a few new pairs here and there. I now own three pairs of shorts (the excess, haha!) but I’m not so attached to any of them that I wouldn’t be able to let them go if the time came.

I don’t believe in having a prescribed number of clothes or possessions.

I believe in owning what you love and use. No more. No less.

I hope I’ve inspired you to reconsider your collections – whether they be of shorts, blazers, spatulas, hammers, or vintage records. Do you truly use and love every single member of that collection? Could you have less? Could you have “just one”?

If you’d like to learn more about Zero Waste living, I’d encourage you to check out The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste by Beeco. This is a great tool to help you get started on your eco-friendly journey!

To less stuff and more you!

PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to simplify your work-mom life, but aren’t sure where to start… join me for my FREE *live* masterclass: How to Organize Your Family’s Home Without Exhausting Yourself or Resorting to Threats. Click here to save your spot!

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