I know that thinking about moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle can be overwhelming. There are so many things that need considering before shifting towards such a lifestyle, that it often feels too much to take on board.
Personally, I felt this way for years before I mustered the strength to come up with a plan to combat my wasteful ways. I discovered that looking for ways to be less wasteful with what I had around me was the key that started me on this journey. I stopped comparing myself to people who managed to put their waste into a small jar because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. So, I began my quest from the place I was in.
The list below depicts the steps I’ve been taking to kickstart my adventure without becoming too overwhelmed, which allowed me to embrace my new lifestyle choices slowly:
- Take it slowly, don’t overwhelm your system with too many rapid changes and too much information at once.
- Don’t compare your lifestyle choices with other people, who might have been on the zero-waste lifestyle path for much longer or whose budgets are bigger to allow for more rapid change.
- I kicked off my journey by learning about and researching sustainability, which led me towards the Zero Waste movement. I doubt I can totally go zero waste, but I plan to reduce as much non-recyclable waste as possible.
- I made a list of everyday products I wanted to swap for sustainable options. Since I knew it was going to be expensive, I began comparing prices. I feel that it’s essential to talk about the price tag attached to the sustainable, zero-waste swaps because those choices will likely require an upfront investment. People who struggle financially don’t have the means to do so. Hence, I feel strongly that the zero waste/sustainable movement needs to become much more economically inclusive.
- I decided to swap one personal item a month so this way I knew my budget wouldn’t blow up all of a sudden.
- Since the beginning of May, I’ve been replacing one non-sustainable/wasteful item a week. I figured that if I buy those items every week, I’ll still be able to afford the swaps. I simply don’t spend money on anything that isn’t essential; I invest in sustainable items instead.
- Before I started replacing my daily goods, I used up everything I had in the house (body lotion, toner, laundry detergent, laundry liquid etc.). Nothing goes wasted, whether it was in a plastic container or not.
- I’ve been keeping a budget, so I know exactly what I spend money on, and I know how much things cost. Budgeting helps me make purchasing decisions. Besides, my goal is to invest long term, so whatever I’m buying now, I’m planning to keep for years.
- Since it’s challenging to shop for clothes at the moment, I asked my sister if she had any jeans she didn’t use that I could have. Then ones I had ripped at the same time and in the same place, (I’m not impressed AllSaints, shame on you) I paid £100 for two pairs on sale, and I’m never doing that again.
- In May, I have replaced:
- Washing up sponges. I’m experimenting to see which ones I like the most. So far, I’m quite delighted with the ones I got.
- Cotton buds in paper packaging, which I love, but I’m not going to stop there. I do want to try the reusable cotton buds.
- I bought compostable sponge cloths to use instead of the kitchen towel (I was spending so much money monthly on kitchen towels that this investment will pay back shortly). So far, I love the cloths, and the best part is that I can stick them in a washing machine or a dishwasher and get them easily cleaned.
- Body lotion. It was on the pricy side, but I’m going to use it for myself and Baby M., and of course, I didn’t purchase a single used plastic bottle.
- Laundry detergent – I bought a new one from Earth Breeze. The price was the same as buying one fully priced detergent in the supermarket. So far, I’m pleased with that swap.
- I refilled my fabric conditioner in my local zero waste shop.
- I bought a dissolvable cleaning sachet instead of buying a new product in a plastic bottle. It only cost £1.25 and works beautifully, smells lovely and doesn’t make my hands itchy. Of course, I’ll re-use the products I already have, but I know I’m not planning on buying cleaning products in separate plastic containers.
- I got the cover-lids to cover leftover food, instead of using aluminium foil. I haven’t used the foil since getting the lids.
I’m on my zero waste journey not only because it helps me focus on something else besides the pandemic, my physical and mental health. I’m on the zero waste journey for my kids.
I have a very vivid imagination and an incredibly anxious mind and soul. So whatever horrible is happening in the world related to the environment right now, my mind can twist it in such a way that it always comes with the worst-case scenarios. If I can do my bit to make sure my kids and theirs can still enjoy Earth, I’m going to stick to my plan. I don’t want Mad Max to become a reality.
If we all don’t start pulling our weight together, this is where selfishness and obsession with profit (How much do you need before it is enough?) are going to lead us all into a very bleak future (Mad Max HELLO!?!?!).
It’s time to say NO to all those corporations who take our finite recourses not only for granted but are hard at work lobbying to pass laws that will keep the money and profits in the hands of the very few, who shouldn’t be entrusted with anything, while the rest of the population suffers dealing with the consequences of short-sighted enriching policies pioneered by the corporate world.
Make your waste reduction plan (it doesn’t have to be zero waste immediately, start small before you can expand) and stick to it. The changes we make now and actions we take or don’t will impact everyone who comes after us.