“But I’m to busy to live a zero waste lifestyle” you may say. And yes, you very may well be if you try to jump all in at once.
I filmed although haven’t yet published a video documenting all the things i’ve packed for a 2 week writing trip visiting my family. I have decided to title this video “minimalism and compromise” although this compromise also applies to zero waste. I did this video as I wanted to be real, to show how yes I might have a minimalism/zero waste channel but I am not always able to doing everything perfect all of the time. Compromises that I made in what i packed included temporarily using disposable nappies on the trip, packing 2 baby carriers (although no pram) and various toiletries that i’m yet to convert over to zero waste. My channel documents my progress, it is not a preachy I have all the answers and live the ideal perfectly kind of thing.
This experience has caused me to think more deeply about this and how lifestyle changes like i’m attempting and advocating do take effort and how for many people with busy lifestyles it is unrealistic to be able to do it all immediately and completely.
Right now i’m writing up my PhD thesis and so many things in my life have been put on hold until it is finished. I somehow imagine that once it is over i’ll have so much more freedom and time to pursue lifestyle changes more deeply and get more involved in creating content both for this channel and another i’m planning with my husband on permaculture. The reality though is probably what will happen is i’ll finish my thesis, get a job and i’ll be just as busy as I am now. I’m hoping though i’ll feel a little less guilty though when I do work on this stuff in my ‘free time’ as phds tend to not be as restricted to working hours as a regular job.
But I have been successful in making several changes to our lifestyle towards both minimalism and zero waste. Minimalism wise we have already got rid of most of our excess stuff and now need to just get better at organising what we have in now much smaller house. I’m signed up to an organisation challenge thing on Facebook that I hope will give me lots of ideas spread out over the whole year so it isn’t something i need to do all at once and won’t take up too much time.
For zero waste we have made quite a lot of changes and about half of these are now automatic and I can do without thinking. I think this is the key to lifestyle change for busy people. Do things little by little and do it to the point that you don’t have to think about it. Then it can fit in your life.
Some example of things that are easiest to do are:
- Purchase reusable items to replace disposable ones. Once the disposable things are run out don’t replace them then you won’t even forget. In particular this works great for items like zip lock bags, straws, cling wrap and food containers.
- Some plastic items can be easily replaced with biodegradable wooden items. Examples include bamboo toothbrushes, hairbrushes (The Body Shop does a good one), dish brushes. You will only occasionally have to purchase these and then you can forget about it until they completely fall apart which might be years.
- If you drive a car regularly to get place and go shopping keep some reusable items permanently in your car. Alternatively keep items in your handbag/briefcase if they are small. Example of this include reusable shopping bags and reusable coffee cups.
- Compost. Focus on this because up to 50% of general waste is organic food waste that can be composted. This small change and small amount of effort can actually have a far bigger impact than many other changes you can make. I’ll be doing a video specifically on this soon as i believe all the info put out there by gardeners on composting can be very confusing and overly complicated for people just wanting to reduce their waste. There a composting solution for everyone regardless of your lifestyle. Look up Bokashi bins if you live in a apartment for example.
- Buy things online. If you don’t have time to be seeking out various items in physical stores find a source online, save a link as a bookmark if it is something you’ll have to buy from time to time (such as bamboo toothbrushes) and then you won’t have to think much about it ever again.
Finally I think food shopping is potentially going to be the hardest and most time consuming change to reduce waste. We used to just shop at Aldi before the switch towards zero waste and now I get our groceries from a food coop, a fruit and vegetable store and a regular grocery store for occasional things we can’t get at the other 2 places. I think people that have Wholefoods might be able to buy in bulk there everything they need (and from what i hear if you buy in bulk it isn’t as expensive as their regular packaged lines), but this isn’t available to many people especially those outside the US like me.
Honestly i’m not sure what to suggest with this except work out your routine and put it in place. I try to buy as much as I can in one go from the food Coo-op so i only have to go every few weeks as it is only open for a few hours 2 times a week so isn’t very convenient. The fruit shop though i go weekly as part of a weekend ritual with my husband often after visiting a farmers market just for fun and mainly for breakfast as we can’t really justify the expense of the produce sold there (it is much much more expensive than the produce store where we live as it is organic and the produce store isn’t). I in particular really enjoy food shopping and it is one activity that we do as a family so that helps me see it as fun, not a chore. I’m not sure if that perspective would help someone who doesn’t like food shopping and is overwhelmed by the extra effort that may be involved in finding package free food. So sorry if it doesn’t, this is just my experience.
Overall just do what you can. Every little bit makes a difference and the more automatic and ingrained it becomes in your routine and thinking the easier it will get, but give the new little changes you make time to get to that state too.