Top 10 things to know before you go Zero-Waste
by Dawn Francom
Before adapting to a Zero Waste lifestyle, all I thought about was the end game. How much waste I wouldn’t be producing, and how amazing that would make me feel. To no longer contribute to this negative “norm”. In reality however, I was greatly unprepared for what may lay ahead. I knew this was what I wanted, and just figured that everything would eventually fall into place. Boy oh boy was I wrong. I started following more groups online, and began to read more blogs (so many blogs!) than I ever had before; in an effort to take away some of the guess work involved. I had read so many helpful hints, tips and tricks on the subject from some wonderfully creative people, but there was still a few things missing. I realized that there’s a bunch of stuff that either doesn’t or rarely gets mentioned before you take the dive. So I spent some time reflecting on my journey, and figured out the top 10 things that I would have loved to know BEFORE committing.
1-) People will look at you weird. Now I’m not one to really care what others think of me, I just noticed how often now I get the raised eyebrow of confusion. Just like any ‘alternative’ lifestyle it’s something to expect. Some people aren’t comfortable with things outside their norm and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that this is YOUR life, not theirs. Eventually the looks will stop, or you’ll begin to ignore them (as I have) all together.
2-) Be prepared to talk about your choices A LOT! When you mention anything about making the transition to a Zero-Waste lifestyle, it’s going to spark some interest. Environmental issues have created such a buzz (finally!), that any reference of a new green topic is sure to capture interest. In my experience, people want to be aware of new movements to judge whether or not it’s something they’d feel comfortable with joining.
3-) You’ll develop a new fascination for mason jars. I LOVE jars now! Big ones, small ones, oddly shaped and unique, any time I see a new jar, I just get super excited! I have a tendency of planning ahead and picture them on my shelves, or in my drawers and full of stock, wondering what they’d look like. I just love em’! GAH!!
4-) You’ll start getting creative with your solutions. Legit, you’re going to MacGyver everything! It’s really encouraged my creative side and I can’t get enough. So many things that I could have been doing forever, only started now. I’ve never felt like I can’t have something since I refuse plastic of any kind. I just get encouraged to think of an alternative. More often than not, there’s a solution!
5-) You’ll cook more than you ever have before. I love cooking and my family loves my cooking! So no negatives on my end. My fella however, he doesn’t enjoy cooking elaborate meals like I do. Although, I have noticed things he does are super simple and easy for even the simplest meals. He batch cooks quite often. He’ll plan ahead, and with the effort of prepping slightly more than 1 meal, he’ll make 5 in advance and freeze them. I love this, it makes it almost as though their pre-made meals from the store, but not. Their way healthier and just as easy.
6-) Goodness gracious, the dishes! The more you cook and work on Do-It-Yourself projects, you better believe the dishes will easily double, if not, triple. Their worth it though. Just have to keep in mind how many pollutants you’re keeping out of your food, products and life in general. A little elbow grease is a small price to pay for that level of health.
7-) You’ll start to save loads of cash. Buying a good quality reusable product that will last for years, will always beat out the high price of constantly buying single use items. What’s better, buying a reusable coffee mug and making your coffee at home or paying 3$ per refill at least once a day, for years. To me, the choice is simple.
8- ) You learn to think ahead and become better at planning. Being forced to think ahead for my meals has overflowed into other aspects of my life. Now when I go out, I think about what I’ll be doing, or even what the night may hold. Try to come up with many possibilities and just bring along with me what I’ll need. If I know I’ll be going to lunch with a friend, I bring along my own container foe example. Just in case I bring home leftovers. It eliminates the need of the take home container. Honestly though, as a result of practicing my organization, my life has become so much more efficient. My goals and dreams are slowly becoming my reality.
9-) You’ll become more assertive. Seeing as how this movement has not caught on everywhere, you must insist sometimes on things you want. If you were to go to a restaurant while having a food allergy, you would insist and make sure they understood before-hand, so that you don’t have a reaction. This is a bit like zero wasting. Make sure people know what you want (no straws, no wax paper, no plastic cups to serve sauce). Make sure they understand your needs before you order and everything should go smoothly. Be assertive, confident, direct and firm, never rude. This process has taught me how to have authority over myself and what I want. Which has easily transferred over to other parts of my life as well.
10-) Not everyone wants to change. You can’t expect them to either. You can only be responsible for yourself, not others. You may not like their choices, but their entitled to live their lives the way they wish, the same way you are. I have to really stress this one here. Remembering this has really calmed me down and has kept me sane. I am only responsible for myself; and even though sometimes it may not seem worthwhile to continue putting in so much effort, while others around you don’t. It is! Don’t give up! What you’re doing matters and will make a difference! You started for a reason, just keep remembering those reasons. I seriously believe that this is the way of the future and eventually, more and more people are going to join the movement. It’s already starting, slowly, but surely.
Never in my life could I have imagined the amount of effort it would take to become a part of this movement. I also never thought that my simple actions would be so freaking rewarding either! I’ve learned so much along the way and intend to keep learning. This entire process has really given me a new way to look at life and my surroundings. Which I otherwise wouldn’t have. I am exactly where I want to be, and hope that you also feel encouraged to give it a go!
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