These times we speak everywhere about the environment and the duty we have about reducing our impact. There are so many things to do that once we decide to get better we seldom know where to start and oftentimes we tell ourselves that even if we change, the impact that we can eventually cause will be so small that it may not even be worth the effort. We blame the government and we expect them to find a miracle solution but, what is in fact that famous solution?
It’s the neighbours fault!!
“The government has to forbid the production of plastic straws!” Ok, many businesses are starting to stop their usage, with the influence of big restaurant chains and the pressure put on them by others, which is a good thing!... except we are now selling paper straws in a plastic container…
“They should force municipalities and burroughs to forbid the usage of plastic bags!” Yeah that’s already in place in a bunch of places here in Canada, except that a certain type of thicker plastic is still accepted and for all fruits, vegetables, breads, meats and all the stuff you buy in bulk. Plastic bags, films and a cute little tray in styrofoam are still being used. Despite all the efforts we try to bring forward it all feels like trying to put out a fire by spitting.
“Everything you have to do yourself, without anyone’s help it’s just way too complicated and seriously endless” I used to say not too long ago. And I did without even trying a little, not understanding, just assuming without putting any kind of effort, until one day I stumbled upon an article which title was:
It’s quite worrying to be honest… That day I realized that governments have a given importance in the whole attempt at reducing the usage of plastics, just as corporations and businesses do but I also realized that every change comes from within, from home, and it’s our responsibility as parents, citizens and basically as human beings to change, educate the younger ones and make it all happen. I felt like sharing a couple of tips I discovered in my adventure towards an-almost-zero-waste family.
I’ve looked around and had the chance to, day after day, find new people and companies that inspire me on this.
- Try to have reusable bags at all times in your car, 3-4 will do.
- Get the little washable bags for fruits and vegetables
- Try to give priority to the local commerces: the neighborhood bakery, fish market and butcher. Not only you’ll encourage local economy but you can bring your own containers to pack your goods.
- Reusable snack bags (ditch the ziplock), non-plastic water bottles, utensils (the easiest one) maybe even a container and my favourite recent find: bee wax wrappers!
- Washable-reusable paper towels, a wonderful invention that not only cleans better, they help you save money.
- Compostable trash bags.
- Get all your detergents from a 0 waste store. I kept my old soap, detergent and softener containers to refill at the store.
- This one’s the easiest. Bring you containers to a bulk store and fill them up. Stuff like cereals, candy, cookies, nuts, flour and all kinds of starch, pasta and even dog food.
Beauty and bathroom products
- On a 0 waste store you can also find products like face cream, make-up remover, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, hair pommade and even a 0 waste deodorant. So cool! Also make sure to get washable towels for your make-up remover, they’re softer on your skin and on the planet.
- When you need to change your toothbrush, say no to the ones dentists provide or avoid buying them in plastic, try instead the ones made with bamboo :)
Oh god, how am I going to survive?
You may think it’s overwhelming, even more so if you try to change every single thing overnight, but slowly and surely by getting refillable environmentally friendly containers first and then change your groceries and supplies as they deplete. I found some stores not far from home where I can take this approach. I go from two to three different places per week to get all we need. We go to the 0 waste grocery every two to three weeks to get all the dry goods and all the stuff from the bathroom. I go to bulk barn once every 2-3 weeks, where I get cookies, snacks, protein powders, etc. Basically almost any kind of dry produce (including candy and dried fruit if you’re into that) you can find there.
One day at a time, one plastic container at a time.
Give yourself some time, be patient. Popular wisdom says it takes about 21 days to change a bad habit and that by walking we adjust the path. We try to be careful but there are things that inevitably are gonne be left out. What really matters in my opinion, it’s to realize it and try and do better each time. In the end it’s a bit like every project we take on in life, like studying, relationships, getting fit, etc. Start by beginning and I guarantee, once you start seeing the fruit of your hard work and feeling like your footprint is much reasonable, it all starts feeling really well.
Be the pillar, not the ball
Every gesture and every improvement has an impact, and if we all get to it, little by little, and that our endless demand for plastic is at least reduced, new ways to satisfy our environmental criteria will have to take place. It may seem utopic but I reserve the right to believe hoping that one day our children will be able to enjoy a habitable world like the one we still have time to save (and even better, of course).
I promise it’s really not as complicated or as demanding as it may seem… Just get started and you’ll see how pleasant it is to feel you’re actually doing something instead of just crossing your arms and waiting for a miracle something. I can say I feel proud to make part of this wave of change. So much that when I was finally able to do a 0 waste grocery shopping for the first time, the whole world had to know it really is not that complicated.