I think for many people the idea of going zero (or minimal) waste is intertwined with minimalism. Not everyone who is minimal waste is a minimalist and definitely not every minimalist is zero waste. But both movements share some common values: specifically, intentionality with what items you allow in your space.
I consider minimalism to be a natural response when moving toward minimizing your waste. The fewer things you buy, the less waste you produce. However, my journey toward minimalism has mostly been about freeing up my time and energy. The fewer toys in my house, the smaller the mess to clean up when my daughter takes out every toy. The fewer one purpose kitchen utensils in my kitchen, the fewer dishes to wash and the less chaotic the cupboards. I'm not a minimalist; I'm aspiring to be one though. I find that whenever I simplify in my house, I feel a deep sense of relief and peace. I think it is partly related to the awareness of how much time I'm saving in the future, but also clean lines and spaces promote a sense of rest and peace. This doesn't come very naturally to me.
While I think I've always been drawn to organization and aesthetics, I definitely find myself looking for satisfaction in shopping more than I like to admit. As I'm working toward minimalism in a way that will serve my family and me and not just for the sake of minimalism, I'm finding a necessary submission to Jesus as I work to worship Him and not things, purchasing power, or the rush of getting cute new things. We are always looking for satisfaction and purpose. Some of us are tempted to believe we will find it in food, things, spending, or control. Some of us are tempted to think we will find our purpose in power, fame, beauty, or perfection. The thing we all have in common is a temptation toward idolatry. Whatever it is that you seek after for satisfaction, fulfillment, or purpose is your own false god. It will always leave you empty, lonely, dissatisfied, and feeling hopeless. Only the Creator, who has made us in His image and for His purpose, will satisfy our restless hearts.
One of my biggest fears with starting Pure and Simple, was that I might be involved in exposing people to new ideas and new commitments, but in a way that doesn't draw people's attention and affections ultimately to the One whom they are meant for. I don't want more people to be zero waste and find their identity in that lifestyle. I want to see more people wholeheartedly following Jesus of Nazareth, the one who made Himself like us, surrendered everything for us, suffered and died on our behalf. I want to see more people aware of the power of Jesus who was victorious over sin and death and will reign over the restored creation some day. Then I want to see people respond to the reality of that same Jesus with faithful stewardship of His creation, including this Earth and our bodies. When Jesus, the Word of God who was with God in the beginning, is the reason that we are motivated toward physical discipline, financial stewardship, healthy relationships, and environmental stewardship, we find sustainable, lasting change possible because we are no longer depending on the things themselves to satisfy.
So if you're like me and you're tempted to find happiness or satisfaction in things, I want you first to pause and consider the One who will actually satisfy, restore and revive your heart before you move toward minimalism. Having less stuff will not solve your idolatry problem. If you look to minimalism to cure you of your idolatry of things, you'll find yourself idolizing minimalism. No closer to Jesus. No closer to others. No closer to freedom.
If instead, you turn your eyes upon Jesus and repent and believe the Gospel, you will find freedom and rest for your soul. Minimalism doesn't satisfy; Jesus does.