First, I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to fill out the Reader Survey. I'm taking good note of your comments and will hopefully move in the direction that you expect me to.
Unsurprisingly, zero waste is one of the main reasons why you come over here every week. I have to admit that I assumed the blogging world was already filled with talented bloggers who primarily focus on this subject (I'll share my favorites here soon) but I guess that we each have our own voice and that you want to hear mine too, so I'll try to post a little more about the nitty-gritty of the zero waste lifestyle.
It seems like you just can't get enough zero waste tips and I'm really happy about it!
As the people who've met me for coffee after connecting with me on Instagram or had dinner with me and my friends know, I'm always eager to share my perspective on the implications of waste production and curious to know what other people have to say on the subject.
I'm usually not the one who introduces the subject. It usually comes up in the conversation when someone will mention that they read my blog, or when I make a specific demand with my order at the restaurant (no paper napkin, no straw). It's fascinating to me how universal the theme of protecting our environment is. Even the people you least expect to be interested in zero waste end up having very insightful opinions about it. Conversations have ranged from compostable plates to meat consumption, to advocating for the destruction of dams, to living off the grid, or starting a small ethical business.
To me, aiming for zero waste means more than not owning a trash can. It's about knowing what you put in your body and on your body, and measuring the impact that our actions have on our environment, and the environment. It can be both selfish (avoiding carcinogenic chemicals to live a better and longer life) and unselfish (taking care of the planet for future generations).
I actually don't love the term "zero waste" as it's pretty much an unrealistic goal but it's such a convenient way to summarize a certain lifestyle. Some might call it green living, others conscious living. I try to always specify that I tend to zero waste or that I am on a journey to zero waste. I mean, aiming for an ultimate goal makes one feel pretty good, right?
All in all, I'm very excited to dive into the process of starting a journey to zero waste again and share my insights, after having been working towards that goal for the past 3 years.
I'd love it if we took it from the beginning altogether and share with each other the reasons why we're embarking on that adventure, the progress we make, and the obstacles we face along the way.
1. Take a moment to reflect on your motivations
To me, every single reason to start a journey to zero waste is as important as the next one. Whether you want to make a change for economic, health, environmental or aesthetic reasons (aren't these bulk pantries insanely beautiful?!), the only fact that you're taking a step back and reflecting on your lifestyle is already an accomplishment. Any reason to be more thoughtful about our consumption patterns is a valid one.
I personally started my journey for health reasons, wanting to make sure that I knew what I was putting in my body after moving to a country where I knew regulations might be different from Europe's.
2. Know where to start
The second important step to take is to identify where to start. My advice? Go dumpster diving. I'm only half kidding. Our trashcans are an unforgiving reflection of our consumption habits.
Seeing how much stuff I was putting in the trash within seconds after being back from the supermarket was bothering me the most. So I started by looking for bulk options in my neighborhood and slowly started my own containers to refill at the store. It instantly reduced the amount of trash we were producing weekly.
For those of you who did not take the Zero Waste Switch Challenge last year, here are 5 ways to kickstart your journey to zero waste:
- Bring a reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop
- Stop junk mail from invading your mailbox
- Always have a tote bag with you
- Try buying in bulk one item you usually buy packaged
- Refuse the swag bag at the next event you attend
3. Take it slow
Lauren Singer, of Trash is for Tossers was recently interviewed on Garance Doré's podcast, and I totally agree with her approach. Start with one change, see if you can stick to it for 2 to 3 weeks and then add another one if you will, and so on.
Having recently moved and having minimal material possessions (shipping stuff across an ocean and a continent is pricey) made the lifestyle change easier as we had to set up new routines and form new buying habits in our new hometown/country).
But you can do it too, it might be a little harder in the beginning to forge a new habit, but the secret is to take small steps.
To me, the secret is to always be prepared. I have a zero waste kit in my car at all times. It contains a mug for coffee stops, a mason jar (to buy something in bulk, to pour wine in at a party where only plastic glasses are provided, to stuff leftover food in and avoid the only-commercially compostable to-go box), a cloth napkin (to wipe my face, blow my nose, wrap a croissant - not all at the same time! I wash it fairly regularly).
Feel free to share your accomplishments, pitfalls or interrogations in the comments section. We all know that the journey to zero waste is paved with obstacles (and plastic wrapped temptations) but that it's also a very rewarding and learning experience.