Conscious Waste: overcoming perfection paralysis

The 16 oz mason jar: it’s the universal symbol of the zero-waste lifestyle, a growing movement that has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide. But what does it really mean to live with zero waste and is it realistic for everyone?

Bea Johnson’s 2016 trash jar (source: Zero Waste Home)

My not-so-Plastic-Free July

If we want to reduce our waste a great way to begin is by paying attention to the waste we generate. So last month I ran a 30-day challenge for people to collect all their single-use plastic (which was also a great lead-in to Plastic-Free July). Participants said seeing a month’s plastic all in one place was a great eye-opener and has motivated them to use less but some people also said they struggled trying to reduce their plastic use. And who can blame them? Consumers are not exactly supported by the majority of governments, manufacturers or retailers out there in trying to reduce their plastic consumption.

My ‘June Plastic Stash’
  • Stop taking supplements
  • Start making our own kefir (I planned to do this 18 months ago but somehow it’s just stayed in the too-hard basket)
  • Giving up cheese or paying a fortune to buy gourmet cheese cut straight from the block
  • Going back to eating non-organic butter (available in paper v plastic-lined foil)
  • Finding an organic butcher that isn’t too far away (and hoping they’ll accept my reusable container)
  • Not eating any pasta, crackers or chips
  • And last but not least…not drinking wine for a month! (in case you’re thinking there’s no plastic in wine bottles — screw-on caps have plastic inserts and even the foil wrapped around corked bottles is plastic-lined). And unfortunately there are no vineyards in Sydney’s inner west where we can get refills.

The new ‘R’s’ in the waste mantra

We’ve all heard the original waste mantra that emerged in the 1980s — the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Under the Zero Waste movement, this evolved to five: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Learning to live more consciously

You can get more great tips about reducing the plastic and waste in your life by downloading my free pdf 6 Ways to Conscious Waste.

Sustainability educator & activist, founder @ Earth Ethic

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