Before I jump in, it must be noted that this is a journey that I am still travelling through and although I’m super proud of where I’ve gotten to, I’m not at the end yet!!
I’m about to detail to you all a little bit about what inspired me to embark on this journey and to continue on this path, as well as some hurdles that I have had to overcome, and it would bring me a lot of joy if what I say inspires you as well.
Firstly, the inspiration. I guess all in all it came down to concern for the environment. The amount of waste that I was producing was incongruous with my worries over the human impact on climate change, and so to tackle this hugely overwhelming concern I decided to start small and look at what I as an individual could be doing. One of the most obvious changes I could make was to minimise my trash. This lifestyle shift seems so small that it couldn’t possibly make any significant changes to the impact of us as a species, but honestly let’s not play the waiting game here. Assuming the mindset of ‘oh well it should be businesses that change their approach because they have a larger footprint’ is nonsense. If we all sit around waiting for someone else to make a change first then nothing will ever be done. Plus, it just feels good to know that you as an individual are doing right by the planet earth.
The biggest hurdle that I came across on this path is that convenience does become compromised. Yep, I’m not going to sugar coat this, convenient consumerism is one of the mindsets that got us into this wasteful conundrum, and to live a less wasteful life means sacrificing time, energy and comforts.
It’s not all bad though; sure you have to travel a little further to shop for your groceries at a bulk dispensary rather than the more convenient supermarket just down the road, but (for me, at least) the satisfaction in knowing your efforts are for a good cause far outweigh the mild added effort. Plus a pantry filled with repurposed jars is so much more aesthetically pleasing for me than garishly branded packaging.
Another thing I hadn’t considered when embarking on this journey is the upfront costs. I was of the belief that living waste free would be cheaper because you aren’t paying for packaging or branding, and you’re buying less, right?
Eventually my lifestyle has shifted to a position where I now spend way less money, but there were some products and tools I use often which I had to replace with eco alternatives. For example, instead of using the complimentary plastic produce bags at grocery stores I went and bought reusable cotton bags, and instead of using single use cotton balls to remove/apply makeup, I bought organic cotton rounds, which you wash and reuse.
When starting out, all these upfront costs can be a little disheartening as the waste free life becomes more complex than you were anticipating, but I must stress that now that I’ve kitted myself out, I don’t need to worry about these things any more. Additionally, you can always try replacing these items with things you may already have around the house! Try using any old backpack/purse from home to transport your groceries, or simply use a face cloth to remove your makeup.
Mistakes happen; that’s life. I am guilty of forgetting a reusable bag when at the shops and settling for plastic. I am guilty of buying packaged food because it was more convenient than going to the bulk dispensary. I do not see these setbacks as a reason to give up on the mission but rather learning opportunities to do better next time. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect from day one (or ever, really) because going zero waste is a significant lifestyle adjustment that is not going to happen overnight. Be kind to yourself.