I used to be wasteful. I still feel wasteful, but certainly not like I used to be. The transition to being less wasteful has been a slow but steady race for me. I admit that zero-waste living can be hard and I should learn to be more gentle with myself. When I feel like I am not doing all I ‘feel’ I should be doing, I need to remind myself to be kind to myself. When I take the time and reflect on how far I’ve come, I feel good about the shifts I’ve made to reduce my waste at home and in my business. However, the road has not been a smooth and easy path. Let me share with you my biggest struggles. Maybe you will relate, and maybe you won’t but with any luck, you will have some advice for me to improve my road ahead.
It was somewhere in the early 2000’s when I first started to be more conscious of waste and how it showed up in my life. I guess having that awareness of waste was the start of the new me. I am a curious person and when I hear about something that interests or intrigues me, I am all in. Reducing waste was no different. But like I said, it was not easy. I think my biggest struggle back then, and still today, is not judging others for their wasteful habits. The more I learn about the problems we have as a society dealing with trash and plastic, it makes me cringe to see others being so thoughtless about it. So, it is the mental part of going zero-waste is what I struggle with the most. I have to remind myself that we all start somewhere. Not everyone is at the place where I am. I also have to remind myself to not always point out people’s actions or inactions. It’s hard.
I want to raise awareness about the waste but there is a fine line between educating and nagging. Maintaining my mental strength is not always easy when confronted with these situations. After years of learning the hard way and struggling through discussions, sometimes arguments, I finally realized the best way for me to raise awareness about reducing waste is through example. I can’t expect people to understand my point of view if they can’t see it. I now choose to lead by example, not by being judgemental.
I used to be a constant consumer. Shopping was a form of ‘retail therapy’ for me. I would take my own shopping bag with me and thought I was doing so good for the planet. It wasn’t until I began to learn about the effects my habits were having on my local environment, did I become conscious of how retail therapy. The shopping eye-opener for me came after watching The True Cost. This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically.
That was about 5 years ago and ever since then my decision-making process and shopping habits have dramatically changed. At that time, I had a closet full of clothes but usually wore the same handful of clothes repeatedly. The True Cost gave me insight to the amount of waste my retail therapy habit produced. My clothes shopping, and consumer habits, changed a lot after that.
Yes, finding alternatives to reducing waste and eliminating plastic waste from my home and business requires time and effort, but staying mentally in the game every day is a struggle. Some days I wonder if what I am doing really makes a difference. Do the choices to slow my consumerism really matter? After all, I don’t have kids of my own, but do I really need to care. I won’t be on this planet in 60 years. Maybe I could just live freely and not worry about future generations. After all, the generation of my parents did some good polluting of their own and they seem ok with it.
That seems easy to say but somehow the truth of it is, believing that really goes against the grain of who I am inside. I want to believe this planet needs me, needs us, to be thoughtful and caring about our actions. I do believe that our actions will have consequences, even if they can not be measured yet.
Did you know that even though we have tons of plastic waste building upon our planet, there is still insufficient data to really tell us how it is affecting our health? It has been proven that we consume microplastics every day through the water we drink, the food we eat, and in the air, we breathe. To the best of my knowledge, there is no conclusive evidence on exactly how that plastic is harming us.
But I don’t need conclusive evidence to know that plastics filling up in my body will one day turn out to be a negative affect. I think part of the issue of why we don’t have much evidence of that fact is because there haven’t been enough studies or money directed to the issue. Remember when smoking cigarettes was allowed in hospitals? I think our knowledge will catch up to plastics one day as it did with cigarettes.
So until then, I will try every day to keep my head in the game. I will do my best to make eco-conscious choices, seek out products and companies who believe like I do, that less waste is better, less plastic packaging is better. Today I am strong and believe with confidence that I am making the right choices to reduce waste in my life. But tomorrow, that might be a different story. So, when I tell you I face struggles with a zero-waste lifestyle, it is because of my brain, not because of the products.
Can you relate to my struggles? Comment here and share.