Could you describe the transition to a Zero-Waste lifestyle? What challenges you found and the easy parts that surprised you?
Let’s start with the easy part [laughing], a lot of times it’s just making a one-time swap and you’re good to go. So I always encourage people to start with the four basics:
Your own set of silverware (reusable before recycle!) instead of plasticware
Personal Metal Straws/Glass straws over plastic single-use straws
Reusable Coffee cups rather than disposable
Use tea-towels as napkins rather than paper napkins
When you make these small transitions, you don’t even have to keep thinking about it. These are the simpler parts that fit into our everyday schedule. There’s also things like finding natural Shampoo or body soaps, or natural cleaning supplies. Once you find the company that you like, after you’ve done your research, it’s usually an easy swap. So it can be easy, and again I don’t like to use the word “easy” because it’s all relative, but things become easy once you’re in the habit of doing it.
At first it might seem really overwhelming but if you break things up into smaller pieces it becomes more manageable. So I think the hardest thing about transitioning [to a reusable/sustainable lifestyle] is thinking “I have to do this all overnight.”
You worry that you have to buy all these different things and get all the different products and the real heart of Zero-Waste living is using what you have. Be resourceful, it’s not about consumption or about getting all new things. So if you come at it from a slow transition, it can be much less overwhelming. I can’t stress that enough, it’s a slow transition, I’m still transitioning. There are still things that I use that are in plastic, that I’m trying to figure out what the best alternative is. Sometimes there isn’t one, especially now with a baby. I find products I love but are wrapped in plastic. It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s trying your best to make healthier decisions and not being too hard on yourself if the environment we’re living in doesn’t always suit the lifestyle.
Is recycling enough?
No. Unfortunately it’s just not enough. In terms of plastic, it’s the worst offender. It can only be recycled a finite amount of times. So eventually it’s going to end up in a landfill or left to break down in our oceans. Of course it is better to recycle those things but in reality they are not actually all being recycled. Recycling usually just makes us feel better, and while it does have somewhat of an impact, a lot of it is still ending up in landfills unfortunately. Another problem is that recycling takes a lot of energy and resources to break them down. Even if it was a perfect system, how much energy was being used to make something from that recycled resource?