Despite our best intentions, it isn’t always easy to be ‘zero waste’. The more I learn about the Zero Waste movement, the more I have realised how often I give in to the temptations of convenience.
Tired and rushed one recent morning before work I headed to the local convenience store and bought a bottle of fruit smoothie and an instant porridge pot. Because there was an offer on the porridge, I bought four pots. It wasn’t until I got to work that I realised everything I had just bought was in a plastic container.
Then I started thinking about the amount of times I have unthinkingly bought food from the canteen and not even considered the one-use plastic and other non-recyclable wrapping that my lunch came in. It is very hard to adjust your mind set to actually applying a Zero Waste philosophy to all areas of your life at once, and that’s why most of us need to do it in steps.
Living a healthy life requires forethought, organisation and planning; so too does reducing our impact on the environment. I’m generally not a ‘plan ahead meal’ kind of girl; I don’t have that level of organisation and I prefer to be able to eat what I want, when I want rather than think “OK, on Tuesday I will be cooking this…”. Nevertheless, at home, my plastic and packaging consumption is decreasing and I am trying very hard to do the same when I am at work, or out and about.
I was a little surprised at my impulse buying of the porridge pots without any real thought for the throw-away containers (or the fact that instant porridge isn’t actually that healthy). At first I was a little ashamed of my hypocrisy after announcing my Zero Waste intentions to the world, but then I decided not to berate myself for it because I know that I am trying, and it has certainly (hopefully) given me reason to stop and think about doing the same thing again in the future.
I suppose it made me realise how easy it is for the mass populace to perpetuate this instant, throw-away, one-use mentality without any intention to cause harm, but also without any real awareness of what they are doing. I’m guilty of doing the same, but I choose to learn a positive lesson from it and be proud of the changes that I have already made.
I guess the point of this post is to reiterate that we all make mistakes: the Zero Waste movement is empowering and enlightening, but we are all going to slip up as we make these adjustments. Yes, it is vitally important that we change how much of an impact we are having on the planet but, as with anything, you can’t succumb to perfectionism and judgement. This has to be a fun process if we are to stick with it, and therefore guilt and criticism should have no place in it. Change is a journey and a learning experience, after all. To quote the lovely Kimberly Snyder: “Progress, not perfection.”
Be massively proud of even the little changes you are making: it all makes a difference.
I would love to hear the tips and tricks people have developed and learned along the way to beat the lure of convenience buying. Please share so that both I and others can learn too!