My Imperfect Zero Waste Life
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” – Anne Marie Bonneau
This is a phrase I have heard many, many times before that resonates so deeply with me. Disclaimer, I am far from perfect! There I said it. Becoming zero waste doesn’t happen overnight. Well it can if you are loaded but many of us are not. Some of us are low income families, some of us work 50+ hours a week, some of us are in super difficult situations and some of just don’t have a clue where to start. There are some hardcore zero wasters out there and it can be so easy to fall into the zero-waste guilt trap but don’t let them suck you in. The road to becoming zero waste comes easy to some and for others it may be long and twisty, filled with obstructions. Let me assure you that whatever effort you are putting in is definitely 100% better than nothing at all.
Where it all started for me.
I started making serious changes in 2018, a few months after having my daughter. During my pregnancy, breastfeeding was the only logical way to feed my child and when she was four months it all came crashing down around me. I won’t go in to too much detail about it now but the short story is that I was sick in hospital, she was sick and she ended up on a specialist formula. It was a time filled with exhaustion, tears and an incredible amount of heart-breaking guilt. Not only was I feeling guilty for feeling like I was making us both sick but I started to watch our waste increase massively, almost over night.
This series of events opened my eyes to sheer amount of waste we create in life and especially those of us with young families. After several weeks, I had to make my peace with our new formula life and accepted that this particular waste was going to be around for some time. At the time it bugged the life out of me that her formula came in tins half the size of standard formula. This meant we were going through twice as many tins, plastic lids and the worst part, twice as many tiny red plastic scoops! This triggered a huge change in my mindset. I then decided to make it my aim to attempt to offset all this extra waste by making changes towards reducing our general household waste in other areas.
Being zero waste with brand new babies or young children can be difficult to navigate if you don’t know where to look. Modern society has made is so easy to be incredibly wasteful, mainly because it makes most aspects of our lives are super convenient. Take disposable nappies, wet wipes, formula, processed baby food, snacks etc, etc. All of those things make our lives easier, they all save time and effort but they all add up to a scary amount of waste hitting our landfills. In the Uk around 7 million disposable nappies are thrown away every single day.
Taking it one step at a time.
Slowly but surely, we have made small and simple changes to help reduce our household waste. We have a long way to go but we are trying and there’s always things we can improve on. One of the easiest things we did was to start taking a drink with us, wherever we were going. I never leave the house without a bottle of water or juice or a cup coffee in one of our many reusable cups or bottles. Such a simple change but it saves us from buying a plastic bottle of water when we are out and about. The same goes for food, there’s always something to eat in my bag in case one of us happens to get peckish while we are out at the park, the zoo or shopping. These small changes help us to save money as well as being kinder to the environment and that’s a huge winner for me.
For our family, the biggest area for improvement is food. It can be tricky to balance plastic free food with cost effectiveness. Zero waste options are rather limited in our area and when we do find a few alternatives, they tend to a lot more expensive and involve driving in and out of town. I know many families face these same struggles so my aim is to keep exploring our options and find new ways to shop locally while keeping our waste and fuel consumption low.
We do not lead a 100% zero waste lifestyle and I would never claim that we do. There are some aspects that have become second nature, and some which haven’t and that’s OK! As I mentioned earlier, zero waste comes easy to some people and not for others. Change what you can, when you can and little by little, we can change the world.
If you want to know how you can start to make zero waste changes today check out 5 Easy Ways to Start Your Journey to Zero Waste.
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