I’ve been reading about greening my Internet usage recently so I thought I would write a post about minimalism and digital decluttering. Of course most things we do have some sort of environmental impact, but browsing the Internet is so ingrained in most people’s lives (especially for young people) and is often the default activity that people end up doing, almost automatically reaching for their phones or laptops whenever they are idle. I don’t think I’m alone in wishing I spent less time on the Internet, so I always try to use it less and less.
Every since I started Zero Waste, I’ve also tried to be more minimalist. However, even minimalists get tempted by certain things. For me, it is the idea of a new phone.
I recently had a declutter and I’m going to trade my old DVDs and some games into CEX in Galway. There wasn’t really anything that I wanted from there so the store credit wouldn’t be worth it if I never used it, or bought something I didn’t want just to use it up – defeating the purpose of the initial declutter.
I was thinking about using the store credit to get a new (to me) phone, as they sell second hand phones. In that case though, I would simply be trading in physical clutter in exchange for more digital clutter. I know I should make do with the phone I have, because there is nothing wrong with it!
Whenever I’m tempted to get a new upgraded phone, I just think of all the time I waste on my current phone and think that if I had a better phone, it would just make me want to use it more, and I really want to spend less time looking at screens. So I’m saying no to a new and improved phone, which would be a waste of money and a waste of time. It might make me happy initially but this novelty would wear off and I would regret buying it.
For me, minimalism is central in motivating me to reduce my internet browsing. An anti-consumerist mindset = less browsing on online shopping sites, as well as less exposure to ads. The internet at the touch of a button makes it very easy to impulse buy or to expose yourself to ads whenever there is a dull moment.
When I cleared out my DVDs, I thought it would be a good idea to have a digital declutter too. When I first started Zero Waste, I went a little bit loco and I subscribed to a ton of eco websites and Zero Waste blogs to inform myself and I definitely learned a lot from them but I’ve recently unsubscribed from a lot of those emails.
At the start of the Zero Waste/minimalism process I also unsubscribed from promotion emails from shops so there would be fewer distractions and temptations, and I finally unsubscribed to the last few lingering ones the other day.
I read an article on minimalism and busyness (that doesn’t look right, does it?) recently that was really interesting. Some people aim to keep their email inboxes at zero, which seems like it would really help decrease mental clutter.
I did a bookmark and Pinterest declutter. I went through my bookmarks and deleted most of them which were links to knitting projects that I will never do! I deleted boards on Pinterest where I had clothes and ‘wish list’ pins saved.
If you want to do a project, Pinterest is good to look through but you don’t need to save a load of pins that you’ll never look at again. Aim to create a new routine. Inspiration, action, repeat. Instead of inspiration, procrastination, never look at pins again, repeat!
I also decided to go ‘cold turkey’ on some of my online habits. I deleted my Instagram because it was making me a screen junkie! When I thought about it, it didn’t really add value to my life in any way and I was just mindlessly scrolling through the feed and tapping my life away (I also used to waste a LOT of time on The Simpsons Tapped Out, maybe I am tapping junkie??) Instagram also distracts me from my 52 Book Challenge, which I am still optimistically hoping to complete this year.
While working on my thesis I am using the internet for research and I find it really hard not to get distracted by Facebook etc. I think when I’m finished my course I will do a complete digital detox and hide my laptop somewhere! It’s not practical to go without a phone for that long so I don’t get data plans so I can only use the internet when there is Wifi so this reduces usage a bit because I’m not on my phone constantly then.
So here is a recap of my digital decluttering so far:
- No new phone
- Email inbox declutter
- Bookmark & Pinterest declutter
- No Instagram
- No data plan
Using the internet less is easier said than done! What do you think about minimal Internet usage? Does anyone else love the sound of the word ‘declutter’? 😀