Don't Be Afraid Of Zero Waste • Lydia McMullen-Laird
Sorry for the zero waste overload! However, I’m finding it equal parts inspiring, exciting, hopeful, and contagious. For those that are down right frightened by the mere thought of taking small steps to shift to a more conscious approach to the earth, here are a few reasons, by Lydia McMullen-Laird of the organization Live Zero Waste, that might calm and transform your reservations to inspiration! Also, for those just tuning in, here is Lydia’s incredible article about How To Go Zero Waste Without Giving Up Your Life!
L | Many people shy away from trying zero waste because let’s be honest, it sounds like a huge sacrifice of so many things that you love about your life. I thought the exact same thing and had major doubts that I would be able to survive even for one day without creating trash. But after over a year of living zero waste I can honestly say that my life has become simpler, healthier and a lot more fun! Here are my strategies for how to live zero waste without giving up your life (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to learn more about the basics of zero waste, check out our website HERE).
Don’t Be Afraid of Creating a Little Trash
Zero waste is a goal, not an ultimatum. Asked for your drink without a straw but got one anyways? Don’t let it ruin your day! Over time, you’ll figure out what to look out for and how to explain zero waste to your wait staff and friends. In the meantime, don’t feel pressure to be that person who only fills up a tiny mason jar of trash each year. While very inspiring, it’s not a requirement of living zero waste. Just the fact that zero waste is your goal is a huge step in the right direction and keeping your trash will teach you so much about which consumption habits you need to work on. At the end of the day, it’s not about who has the least amount of trash, it’s about becoming more aware of how you can change your personal habits to be less wasteful.
Don’t Say No to Fun
Sometimes it can feel easier to stay home watching Netflix and snacking on zero waste trail mix than going to a friend’s BBQ that probably doesn’t have reusable silverware. But you’ll resent the zero waste lifestyle if you say no to things just because you’re afraid you’ll create trash, so take some risks! Being in tricky situations will teach you so much more about zero waste than always going to that one restaurant you know has a zero waste salad bar and cloth napkins.
One of the hardest things about going zero waste is incorporating it into your social life because chances are none of your friends are zero waste. But the good news is that sharing your new lifestyle with your friends can be a ton of fun. You’ll have really interesting conversations and might even inspire your friends to try it, or at least to adopt a few of your zero waste habits.
Guess what a luxurious massage, a fancy dinner, and a girl’s night out dancing all have in common? They’re zero waste! Just because you’re no longer producing trash doesn’t mean you can’t pamper yourself after a long week with the money you’ll be saving from making your own beauty products and buying used and vintage clothing. Since you may have to sacrifice certain treats you used to buy (you favorite lotion, a candy bar, a new pair of pumps), finding ways to treat yourself is an essential component to living zero waste long term. Otherwise you’ll feel deprived and won’t be able to fully enjoy the zero waste lifestyle.
Indulge in Guilty Pleasures
Do you enjoy the occasional online shopping spree while lying on your couch in your pajamas on a Sunday morning? Me too. Just because a zero waste lifestyle encourages you to move towards minimalism doesn’t mean you have to completely give up your guilty pleasures. I browse Craigslist and second hand chat groups all the time just to get excited about the things I could buy if I wanted to. I rarely end up buying anything since I’ve become much more aware of how little I actually need due to switching to zero waste, but it’s so much fun to window shop! Same goes for junk food. If you’re having a bad day and you just need a nice cold beer or a bowl of ice cream, go for it! Just find a place that serves beer on tap or is willing to serve you ice cream in your tupperware. Living a zero waste life style does not mean you suddenly have to be perfect and give up your guilty pleasures, you just have to get a little creative and find zero waste alternatives that are just as good.
Support Local Artisans
When you start living zero waste you might be overwhelmed by the hundreds of DIY recipes online—from face masks and mascara to toothpaste and all-purpose cleaner. I actually really enjoy DIY projects as a way to unwind from work, but sometimes life happens and I just don’t have time to learn how to make homemade soap or shampoo bars. In those instances it really helps to develop relationships with people in your community who love making things and can custom make zero waste products for you. These types of artisans can usually be found at farmer’s markets or online and are often more than happy to support zero wasters and might even give you a discount for bringing your own containers! This way you won’t be slaving away every weekend to make your zero waste life a reality and you can relax and enjoy life. Of course for simple DIYs like toothpaste or facial toner, which take minutes to make and are dirt cheap, it’s more cost and time effective to make them at home.
Sharing is Caring
Let’s bring back the good old days where people made huge batches of things from scratch and shared with their friends and neighbors. I made a big batch of yogurt the other day and gave a jar to each of my friends. I’m also part of a facebook group that shares probiotic starters such as kefir grains and kombucha mothers. Seek out communities (or create your own) that share and trade resources and you’ll save a lot of time by making only a couple things from scratch. Plus, you’ll always have something zero waste on hand to share with your friends. Facebook and CSAs are great places to find people who love to share.
The number one best way to go zero waste without giving up your life is simply to…simplify! Zero waste forces you to think about what you actually need and value in your life and you’ll only be giving up things that shouldn’t be in your life in the first place. Hopefully, by living zero waste you’ll be able to shift your focus from "stuff" to relationships, and "money spent on things" to time spent on experiences.
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