Ep 7 | Design and the Future of Minimalism with Lloyd Alter

October 10th, 2017 · 42 mins 9 secs

About this Episode

Lloyd Alter, architect and design editor of Tree Hugger magazine, helps us understand our changing relationship with our possessions and how the upcoming generation will view design and functionality.

Lloyd Alter is design editor of TreeHugger, a prominent media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability to the mainstream.
Living in Toronto, Canada; He has been an architect, developer, inventor and prefab promoter.
He contributes to Mother Nature Network at MNN.com, The Guardian, and Azure magazines, and is Adjunct Professor teaching sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design.

In the course of his work developing small residential units and prefabs, Lloyd became convinced that we just use too much of everything- too much space, too much land, too much food, too much fuel, too much money, and that the key to sustainability is to simply use less. And, the key to happily using less is to design things better.

Recently, Lloyd has been writing on family heirlooms and the changing culture. I found his work while researching solutions for clients who are confronted with managing the possessions of generations while downsizing. His direct approach to working with our elder parents along with his prolific writing on a lifestyle focused on less stuff and better design, was a great fit for us!

To connect with Lloyd, you can visit Treehugger, https://www.treehugger.com, Mother Nature Network, https://www.mnn.com, or follow him Twitter @lloydalter and Lloyd Alter on  Facebook.  

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In this episode, you’ll enjoy:

  • Learning about the relationship between medicine, science and minimalism. How the fear of germs led to the minimalist movement.

  • Hearing about how Lloyd confronted the generational shift in thinking about “things” within his own family.

  • Discussing how our mobile lifestyles have changed the quantity and quality of things we acquire.

  • Looking at the reality of emotional value vs. financial value.

  • Suggestions on how to decide “who gets what” when a previous generation downsizes.

  • How Lloyd used Marie Kondo’s concept of Spark Joy when deciding what to keep when downsizing.

  • How Lloyd and his family held an Open House, allowing young adults to come in and take things they needed to start their own households as a means of thoughtfully discarding things.

  • Discussing how to find the “right new home” for things that you are letting go.

  • Learning how Lloyd defines a minimalist lifestyle.

Read Lloyd's article, "On Decluttering, Downsizing and Surviving a Green Renovation", Tree Hugger Magazine, here: https://goo.gl/cnbFvr

What sparks joy for Lloyd:
Lloyd shares his joy at looking out over the lake in his Canadian cabin, sitting at his amazing dining room table and the significant back story the table holds.


  • "Big Brown furniture: Nobody has room anymore!”

  • "That furniture had absorbed the memories of our entire family."

  • "You don’t know if you are an architect or a marriage counsellor."

  • "Start talking to your older family when they are willing to share the history of things."

  • "Do not keep anything that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”-William Morris.

  • "We are moving to multi-family and walkable communities and less stuff.”

  • "You just have what you need.”

You can find Karin Socci at The Serene Home
You can find Kristyn Ivey at For the Love of Tidy