What to Consider When Starting Your Zero Waste Journey
The problem of waste is getting ever more enormous, with the negative impact from our highly consumerist societies being felt by people and nature all over the world. It is becoming increasingly clear that we must take responsibility for sustainability and waste less, both as individuals and communities. Many people and businesses are moving in this direction, and the zero waste movement is growing and gaining momentum. But of course, if you’re thinking about starting your own zero waste journey, you already know your reasons why.
There are plenty of practical things to think about when you decide to start travelling down this path. The details of where to shop, what (not) to buy, how to avoid all the waste that seems to come with ‘normal’ daily life. Suddenly you are learning a heap of new things and developing a pile of new habits, in what can be an all-encompassing change of perspective. There are a great many fantastic resources online to help you with that. The zero waste community is passionate and inspiring and welcoming. But here I want to talk about a few things to consider before launching yourself into all the nitty-gritty practical stuff, and to keep in mind as you start your zero waste journey.
- Sometimes all the waste you suddenly see around you can feel overwhelming and depressing. Try to accept this feeling and transform it into something positive. You are doing the best you can about the problem and that’s great.
- Don't expect to be perfect. 'Zero' waste is the goal, not the standard. Things happen, waste happens. You get better at avoiding these things along the way. Try to focus on the progress you make rather than the setbacks.
- The whole household needs to be on the same page. As with any other lifestyle change, communication is key.
- You probably don't need to buy anything new to start wasting less. My husband bought some cloth produce bags and I bought a few bigger glass jars from a flea market.
- Testing whether you really need something by not buying it straight away is a great way to find out how little you do need. But everyone has different limits when it comes to this type of testing. My husband's limits are lower than mine and this has frustrated both of us: him when we don't have something on hand, and me when he makes an unconsidered purchase to fill the perceived need. Once again, communication is key!
- A little research and patience goes a long way. Occasionally you need a lot of patience for a lot of research.
- Speaking up when you’re 'forced' to waste can make you feel better and lead to change that goes beyond your personal lifestyle choices.
- The people around you (who are likely to bring things into your home/buy you gifts) also need to know about what you’re doing. Don’t worry too much about sounding preachy. People are generally curious, open and understanding.