Zero waste part 2 – the solution.

Despite the overwhelming injustices in the world, my message is a positive one. I spent far too many years believing there was nothing I could do, and that one person’s actions wouldn’t matter anyway. Not anymore!

Since September 2015 I have been on a mission to reduce my landfill waste. It has been an up-and-down process, full of successes and ‘let’s try again tomorrow’s. I have reduced my waste down to the size of a jam jar a month, give or take a little depending on the circumstances. Just in the 4 months I’ve been at this I have cut out so many disposable items from my life without too much inconvenience, and prevented a ridiculous amount of rubbish from polluting the earth and destroying lives.

ocean
(Source)

What’s the point if you’re just a drop in the ocean? I came from a place of thinking the solution had to come from the law, and to a point I still do. But I for one cannot wait for anyone else; I am taking charge of the waste I produce and trying to cut it down. I may not be making a huge impact on my own, but there is a large community of zero waste enthusiasts online, and every time we whip out our reusable canvas shopping bags or refuse a straw in a bar it adds up and we raise awareness locally too. The only reason I am here writing this now is because someone dared to share with me what she had learned. She has no idea that she inspired me to this day.

I really hope if anyone’s reading this, that they will want to see if they can make even a small change to their waste habits for the sake of the world. Stay tuned if so!

Zero waste part 1- the problem.

In the summer of 2015 at a festival, and there was a talk on called ‘how to change the world’. I went along with absolutely no idea of what to expect (‘changing the world’ is pretty vague!) This lovely, softly spoken woman spoke for about 40 minutes about this lifestyle she’d been following for a few years: Zero Waste.

She told us that the waste we create doesn’t just disappear when we throw it in the bin, about how it has to go somewhere, be it a hole in the ground that emits harmful gases, or a developing country where children pick through it, risking their lives to make a living; about the increasing instances of floods and droughts throughout the world, directly caused by pollution.

landfill-site-6
child on a landfill site, Dhaka Bangladesh 2008 (Source)

Before this point I used to divide my life into two parts: the stuff that impacts people and therefore matters, (poverty, disease etc.) and the stuff that is less important and is just personal choice (the environment). I thought of being eco-friendly as a responsibility, something I should put some effort into, but that my waste was being dealt with and the problem wasn’t that bad. I realise now that the way I consume does have an impact on people’s lives. I may not know them personally, but the energy I use, the items I throw in the bin and the places I buy from have a direct impact on people (often people who are too poor to do anything about it). Me producing less waste means that I am actively making sure that I don’t cause famines in countries where global warming means they don’t get enough rain, and hurricanes and floods that destroy homes and lives.

As someone who is motivated by relationships and helping people, this talk changed the way I saw waste. It wasn’t just a thing that we made. It was something that had a tangible effect on people’s lives.