What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say ‘zero waste’? You might think about good habits, positive movements and challenges, or perhaps you will have more negative thoughts. Whatever your answer is, this – let’s say – sustainable lifestyle is not impossible to practice or apply to your daily life.
Lifestyle shifting, from “wasteful” into “zero waste”, is somehow similar to the decision to become a vegetarian or vegan. It is not easily done, but it is possible! The thing is, change always needs persistence. Lauren, a 23 year old girl from New York City, made the decision to live a zero waste lifestyle. As a student in environmental studies, she started her life changing experience after becoming aware of her destructive actions. She started feeling like a hypocrite about her former lifestyle: “This process took more than a year and required a lot of effort. The most difficult part was taking a hard look at myself, the environmental studies major, the shining beacon of sustainability, and realizing that I didn’t live in a way that aligned with my values.” She then decided to change this lifestyle by starting to reduce her plastic waste, until she finally managed to live without using any plastic at all.
How did she achieve this?In her TEDxTeen talk Lauren suggests three simple practical steps for a zero waste lifestyle.:
- Get to know your waste and understand what it is.
- Find your main sources of waste. Lauren three main sources were: food and product packaging.
- Make a plan to reduce these main sources of waste.
Laurens first plan existed of shopping bulk or package-free food, making her own products and composting.
She was persistent to apply this new lifestyle. She never went shopping without bringing her own bag and jar, she made her own personal care and cleaning products, and donated unused clothes and cutlery. While she sincerely cared about a lot of things before, she was never truly embodying her philosophies. Once she accepted that, she allowed herself to change and since then her life became better every day. Being waste free meant she saved money, ate better food, and even became happier.
So Lauren’s story tells us that a zero waste lifestyle is feasible as long as you are aware of the importance, and are persistent to succeed. You need to start by taking a small first step that will lead you to finally experience the enlightenment. Don’t be afraid of other people’s opinions. Let’s start to be the change you want to see in the world, and always remember this golden rule: where there is a will, there is a way.