The zero-waste challenge is still ongoing in my household, or maybe I should call it the reduce-waste-as-much-as-possible-because-zero-is-unrealistic challenge. When I use things and throw things away, I try to take a minute to think about if there’s a better alternative, and quite often find that there is, even if it’s not a perfect swap. That’s good news and it’s always a nice feeling when you embed something more virtuous into your life.
I’ve read some books, I’ve googled a lot of different things, and perused plenty of amazing zero-waste websites. There’s one thing that none of them tell you though: reducing the waste your household produces is exhausting.
Clearly, it is worth every minute to try and have a good impact on the environment, but it’s also, genuinely, very tiring. In principle, it’s not that hard, just taking that extra step to think about, research, and try new things. But in practice, that extra step can really add to the stresses of a day, and whilst I’m always keen for change for the right reasons, so much change in such a short space of time can also be tricky. You get into routines for a reason - they make life smoother, easier, and you can do a lot of it without thinking.
With this new focus on reducing waste, there is no ‘without thinking’, all there is is thinking, planning, adjusting, compromising.
And I’m not writing this as a complaint or to suggest regrets or any changes of heart. I’m just putting it out there that the one thing missing from all these ‘change your life, change the world’ books is that it takes significant energy from yourself, and it’s okay to hold your hand up and say, I’ve made enough changes for now, let’s give it a minute to rest, refocus, and then think about a better toothpaste solution next month.
All the influential voices say that every little change you can do will help, so there’s no need to upend your entire life in one go. Take it one step at a time, and if you need to pause, that’s fine too.