Living a natural and holistic lifestyle conjures images of a fridge full of organic produce, bath and beauty products made from sustainable and non-toxic ingredients, safe biodegradable cleaning solutions, a plethora of houseplants, and a simple yet chic wardrobe that was thrifted from the local second-hand store.
For me at least, this is what I think of when I hear or read about other people talking about living a more natural lifestyle. Though it does not have a hashtag, yet, living naturally has become a movement and it affects more millennials and younger generations than any other group. In a poll that asked what ‘living naturally’ meant to them, it became clear that the image associated with this phrase varied based on the generation.
Earlier generations like Baby Boomers would have associated this kind of lifestyle with dreadlock wearing hippies living communally in the woods, smoking weed, not using deodorant, and rarely bathing.
Generation X views it as having more to do with diet, eating organic, whole unprocessed foods, or living off the land.
While Millennials would define it based more on the environmental impacts, shopping for sustainable alternatives, or even second-hand if possible.
Regardless, each generation did share one commonality in their perceptions around the phrase, and that was establishing a closer connection to the environment. The movement to ‘live naturally’ has taken a simpler if not multi-faceted meaning since its first application in the Woodstock era.
Which begs the question, what does living naturally really mean?
Perhaps the movement would be more recognizable if we look to its more recent headlines, Forbes can be seen referencing it here, Top 10 Wellness Trends in 2019 as wellness trends, you even see it in architecture, Sustainability in Housing Design with the Tiny House movement being just one example. It’s especially evident in interior design with the wildly popular obsession with Marie Kondo’s “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
They are not the only ones, countless bloggers, health & fitness sites, magazines, and daytime t.v. shows have recounted and regaled the masses with tips and tricks to a healthier you, all under the wellness guise. But wait, what does any of that have to do with living a natural and holistic lifestyle? Simple, it is all in the presentation and you can thank the younger generations for it.
Millennials have become the forerunners in leading lives of minimal, recycled, and eco-friendly existences without sacrificing the modern-day comforts. The wellness trends and natural alternatives you see today are a product of the newer generations desire to live not with less, but with the same commodities and conveniences as before, only to a higher and more environmentally friendly standard.
This can all be traced back to the fact that Millennials prefer experiences over things, and they like to share those experiences with others, this has forced companies to change-up their marketing strategies in several different ways.
A quick Google search will show that aside from the stereotypical, over-used, and mislabeled phrases such as narcissistic and entitled, Millennials are set to inherit the largest windfall of any previous generation in history. A cool 68 trillion by 2030, so you can bet companies are working hard to influence and meet this generation’s standards well in advance of said inheritance.
If you are still asking how, specifically, have companies aligned their practices and company goals look no further than the effects of social media. Millennials and especially the generations that come after are all over social media, having multiple accounts across multiple platforms.
One very popular and effective strategy is through the sponsoring of social media influencers to review and promote a product or an entire company as a whole. Various influencers can have well over a million followers, who then share and link back to their followers, friends, and family, who then share with their followers, etc. you see where I am going.
These influencers will each have a unique brand and standards that cater to a very specific demographic or even lifestyle. It is no small thing to say that the origin of trends can be linked back to social media in one way or another.
Aside from valuing the words of brand ambassadors, Millennials also value:
- Being Eco-friendly/Sustainability
- Convenience and
- How mobile/app-friendly a company site
The lifestyle, or rather mindset, to live naturally can be better understood as a desire to live a simpler and healthier life that is in sync with the world around you. Which explains why there are so many different wellness trends that encompass just about every aspect of our lives.
Tying all these trends together under a single umbrella term creates a more holistic practice that does not take away from anyone person but instead includes all the different ways to ‘live naturally.’
This concept of living a more natural, minimal, and greener life has forced me to reconsider a lot of the things that I may have once thought important or even irrelevant.
In the process of trying to be more eco-friendly, I have had to acknowledge that convenience plays a greater factor in what I am willing to do. (As mentioned before, convenience is a common feature among Millennials.)
Clearing space in the garage for recycling, stopping myself from absent-mindedly throwing cardboard pasta boxes into the garbage, and making time to take waste to a local recycling center are things that did not develop overnight.
Living a more natural lifestyle creates a gradual shift in thinking, I have found that searching for healthier alternatives has given me a greater sense of control and responsibility. Certain attributes have started to present themselves as being necessary, inevitable, or at the very least reoccurring, in developing this mindset.
Perhaps the most dominant is the need for self-sufficiency, a do-it-yourself attitude, a desire to know more than just what’s on the label. Just as inevitably, other movements begin to take shape and filter into our lives.
A more apparent correlation would be zero-waste and minimalism, in the pursuit of consuming less and reducing ones’ consumption, reusing what one already has to be more minimalist is one of the core tenets in the zero-waste movement.
An important distinction between the two is that a lot of zero-wasters are minimalists but not all minimalists are zero-wasters, this becomes apparent when you see how they choose to get rid of stuff and where they go to replace goods.
It can be incredibly misleading to think that just because these styles or movements are related, they are all integral to living a more natural and holistic lifestyle. While I may have made these movements sound like stepping stones that lead to this mindset, it is important to remember that everyone has different priorities.
No two people will ever take away from one ideal the same understanding, let alone in how they apply it to their own lives. Social and economic factors play a large role in how a natural lifestyle could be described and there is a whole argument around how these are more ‘rich-people’ or privileged trends.
Even within the zero-waste and minimalist movements, opinions vary in what makes someone truly zero-waste and minimalist; that is excluding the imposter syndrome many struggles with, myself included. The point is, there is no one set hard and fast rule to go by that unifies all of these trends into one category.
Returning now to what we envision when we hear someone say they live a natural lifestyle; it is now clear that this more or less signifies an umbrella term that covers a wide range of movements.
Natural living can be considered an umbrella term that can refer to similar lifestyle, movements, or trends such as, but not limited to, cruelty-free, green-living, eco-friendly, minimalism, non-toxic/GMO-free, organic, sustainable, veganism/vegetarianism, and zero-waste.
This phrase needs a recognizable terminology or hashtag, #livenatural, in order to establish a unifying point that includes all of the above lifestyles. Something companies and governments are more apt to recognize because if it’s anything current generations have learned, it is that voting with your dollar can have far greater reach than just the vote.
Natural Living, a growing awareness of the impact from commonly consumed items on ones’ environmental, physical, mental, and/or emotional health that leads to the return to a more natural state of being through the intentional effort to source as eco-friendly and/or as sustainable alternatives to common everyday items as possible.