One Step Forward

November 15, 2018

Starting a zero or low waste lifestyle may look daunting, but you don't have to completely eliminate plastic from your life all at once.

I know. I tried.

It was stressful, exhausting, and expensive. I saw all these videos and Ted Talks on Youtube about how people have all of their trash from 4 yeas in a pint sized mason jar. All their twist ties, clothing labels, tea bag packets, and other tiny pieces of plastic that aren't able to be recycled yet, all in the palm of one hand. I was mesmerized. I wanted to be just like them. Them, with their arrays of sparkling clean jars filled with bulk items and snacks. Them with their do it yourself toothpaste and deodorant. Them with magazine ready houses, immaculate and free from even one speck of dust.

I was not that. I lived in a studio apartment with a maximalist roommate/best friend. Both of us hate to clean (which is ironic because I need things clean to be able to focus). And the closest grocery store was Trader Joe's (which we all know is not known for their eco-friendly packaging). Also the fact I was a broke ass art/design student didn't help anything either. But I wanted to be like them, to be like those Youtubers. I wanted to have the "zero-waste" items they used. So, I bought them. I sold my unloved junk that I didn't want anymore to have money for this new lifestyle I was striving for (I was working on my Konmari journey at the same time as starting zero waste).

That was my worst mistake. I tried to jump right in without researching. "Impulsive Ande" got the best of me with this endeavor. I didn't know how to stay zero waste even though I had everything for it. I had the ingredients but not the recipe. That's when I went deeper. I joined three Facebook groups about zero waste and followed I don't know how many Youtuber/bloggers who were on their own journeys. I studied as many climate change, sustainability, and eco-friendly articles I could find. I became a conversation starter in one of my Facebook groups by asking as many questions I thought of. It finally all clicked into place.

You just need to do one step at a time. Don't look at the whole plastic mountain. Just look at one easy thing you can do at a time. Don't worry about perfection right at the start. Focus on creating a simple habit that can grow into your zero waste lifestyle. One of the easiest steps is to refuse straws. For starters, they give you wrinkles around your mouth from sucking all the time. And two, once you see the video of that turtle having a straw being pulled out of his nose by pliers, you'll be grossed out by them. Try breathing through a straw, it's not fun (I know, I have asthma).

It may be a small thing, but if everyone did this, 500 million straws a day would avoid landfill just in the United States alone! That's enough waste to wrap around the earth, twice!

"But I'm only one person, I can't make a difference."

George Washington was one man, and he helped start a nation. Steve Jobs was one man, he changed the way we look at technology forever. You can make a difference, not just for your life, but for the world. You just have to take that one step forward.

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