My transition to a waste-free home has taught me that zero waste living is about progress not perfection.
A lifestyle change requires incremental steps and should enrich your life. We can’t flick a switch from egocentric to ecocentric. Our behaviour is not consistent. In pursuit of environmental sustainability, I’m passionate about behavioural change that incorporates compassion and realism.
The alternative should be “as good as, or better than” the wasteful version.
We’re not likely to adopt new habits if there is an unpleasant compromise. We need positive reinforcement to thrive. I responded to poor experiences as an opportunity to pivot and take a different approach. My hair, skin and general wellbeing is better thanks to zero waste practises. These rewards have helped me welcome new changes to my routine like DIY beauty.
Let’s catch polarisation early.
We have a common goal. Many of us are aiming for the same target from different vantage points. Some people choose to focus on being ethical, vegan or humanitarian. Zero waste just happens to be my area of focus. By tackling different issues, we can work together. Recent trends towards eating for activism is breeding a culture of polarisation. I don’t think you’re an earth-hater if you eat meat, just as I don’t think you’re ‘part of the problem’ if you have children. Nobody should ever feel guilty about being brought up in a world where consumption and waste is normal. It’s not our fault and we can’t be expected to change without support from the wider community. We’re all in this together.
We need to be realistic.
My friends who have medical conditions do not have the same options as me and that’s ok. Many of us struggle with the financial implications of buying organic produce and ethical products. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Let’s not punish ourselves if we’re not perfect.
Patience is boring but extremely effective. Through tiny incremental changes over 12 months, we switched from fortnightly garbage collection to having little need for rubbish services at all. It took 6 months for my husband and I to learn the ropes of a zero waste lifestyle. During this time, we learnt how to buy package free, prevent food waste, make our own cleaners, detox from chemical deodorants, track our consumption, utilise community, cook with whole foods, buy seasonal produce and manage our compost bins. By taking it one step at time, we’ve ensured that this lifestyle can be sustained.
If you desire change, consider taking on incremental habits.
Change five minutes of your average day. It could be the length of your shower, your coffee routine, lunch choices, or your laundry. Change one tiny thing and settle with that until it feels normal. Then change another teeny tiny thing… Better yet, tell me about these small changes so we can celebrate them together.