Zero Waste

Zero Waste

So, how did your zero waste challenge go? Did you learn anything, surprise yourself? Or did you forget entirely that we'd ever challenged you to go zero waste?

I kind of cheated on this one - I've been trying to live with less waste for a while now. The environment is important to me, I think we have a responsibility to be good stewards of God's creation, and so by the time I came across the concept of zero waste I was ready to give it a go. I find that carrying a straw and cutlery, washing and keeping my jam jars for storage and shopping (when I can) at a bulk store don't take too much time and generally work out cheaper.

I'm really aware though, that 'zero waste' is one of those terms that can feel a bit like it's setting us up for failure. Is it really attainable to aim to produce absolutely no waste? I don't think that it is, and I would have to think really carefully before I said that I live a zero waste lifestyle because I know I'm nowhere near. So if you read the title of the challenge at the beginning of the month and were a little overwhelmed, I sympathise.

The thing is, it's like any lifestyle change. If you throw yourself into it all at once - throw out every plastic item in your house, vowing never to buy anything in packaging ever again - then you'll pretty soon burn out and give up. Try to change one small habit though and before you know it you may find the motivation for another small change. For example, I didn't use disposable coffee cups often anyway but I reached a point where I told myself that unless I had my reusable, I wasn't allowed the coffee. I could either walk back and get it, or I could do without. Pretty soon I found I was remembering to bring the cup, which also gave me longer to think about whether I really needed to spend money on the coffee.

Sasha and I have both been reading a fab book this month (well, I've been listening to it). It's called A Life Less Throwaway, and it's by Tara Button, who used to work in marketing and now uses her knowledge of the industry to enlighten us all on how brands have learned to convince us that we need more stuff - not to mention engineering the stuff we buy so that it lasts less time than it ought to meaning we will inevitably buy it again. Neither of us have finished it yet, but what we have read has really got us both thinking. If you're looking for some motivation, or just want to find out more, this is a really good place to start. After all, it's much easier to make a lasting change if you understand why you are doing it.

She also runs Buy Me Once - a website listing brands and products who are bucking the trend and making products designed to last a lifetime. Many come with guarantees that the brands will repair them if they break, and all are ethically produced. That's another easy way to make a difference - if you have an item that needs replacing anyway, why not see if there's a more sustainable brand or version to buy? It may well be more expensive in many cases - but it also may be the last of that item you ever have to buy.

There's no wrong time to start - so if you lost track during August, or you missed it entirely, then it's really not too late. And if you did make a change during August, well done. Maybe now you can get some inspiration to take the next step.