I have to admit, I was intrigued, and then slightly impressed, when I watched a video of a girl pull out her mason jar of scraps only to then explain that said mason jar contained ALL of the trash that she personally had produced in the last five years.
I wrote off that experience as “nice” but “crazy and not for me”.
But I just kept thinking about that girl and her mason jar.
And then a couple months later I stumbled upon a #zerowaste hashtag on instagram (probably was correlated to some #slowliving pondering I was doing at the time) and I began to follow a couple of bloggers who post about their personal sustainability journey. Everything from making their own toothpaste, to composting in their backyard, to buying food in the bulk section, to bringing reusable “to-go” containers for restaurants when they were ready to package up leftovers.
I just took it all in. In admiration, mostly.
I was inspired by the highly sustainable lives these people seemed to be living, and wondering if I, too, could adopt their #zerowaste habits.
But I find it all very overwhelming.
Every time I throw away an eggshell, or some coffee grounds, or the end of a carrot, I think… I should compost this.
Every time I stroll through a grocery store, I notice all of the excess packaging… but I continue to buy the things with the most appealing packaging.
And every time my city’s recycling center refuses to take the tetra pak cartons… I think, what can I even do about this?
But it’s really beginning to sink in for me that sustainability doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. Rather, sustainability should be a “think about it and do what you can right now” thing. For most people, “zero waste” is completely unattainable. And if zero waste is the standard that’s set, it’s going to be really easy to miss the mark.
That being said, one of my 2018 goals is to generate less waste.
It’s not a “SMART” goal.
You can’t measure it in exact terms.
But you can tell that you’re making a difference.
This year, I’ve decided not to become overwhelmed by instagrammers who are documenting the nth year of their zero waste journey.
Rather, I’ve decided to make smaller steps towards continuously improving the sustainability of my lifestyle.
It’s a process! And I’m excited to document as the year continues.
The first order of business? Buy 20 mason jars. The second order of business? Join the local grocery co-op.
Actually.. a little backstory here… As I was contemplating changing our pantry from packaged dry foods to glass jars and buying in bulk, a friend told me that she was turned away from Whole Foods when she tried to use her jars from home to buy bulk products… Something about the jars not being “organically clean” and that they would cross-contaminate Whole Foods’ plastic scoopers. So at Whole Foods, if you want to buy bulk, you have to put your stuff in a plastic bag, bring it home, and put it in your reusable container. Eye roll. Luckily for me, there are several other “natural grocery” options in the area. When I scoped out my options, the first question I asked was if I could use my own jars from home. Thank you Ozark Natural Foods for being so gracious.
My first jar-in-store experience was minor, yet meaningful.
I had a few random things I needed to buy, like dijon mustard and almond milk. But I also needed pumpkin seeds, energy bars, and granola (all which are available in bulk). So when I made my final check out, my cart was half traditionally-packaged goods, and half jar-packaged goods. It felt good.
But the coolest part? One of the employees literally thanked me for bringing in my own containers. Woah. I wasn’t looking for a stroke of ego, but…
I felt like I was contributing to a little less waste in the world that day.
And I realized that a small change was an attainable habit.
Zero waste.. probably not in my immediate future. Less waste.. we’ll see what journeys the year brings!