It’s pretty normal nowadays to hear the words: Sustainable, zero waste, eco-friendly, compostable, vegan, etc. You’ve heard them, too, right?
I’m seriously beyond proud of the people who believed in these things before it was “popular”. The people who stuck with it even if other people would make fun of them or give them a hard time. It takes A LOT of guts to speak about things you care about when the majority of people disagree. You’ll be standing in your little corner alone sometimes, but slowly more people will start showing up.
I want to share about my experience with sustainability for a couple of reasons.
- If those people (I referenced above) never spoke up about what they believed in, stores wouldn’t change, people wouldn’t have changed or given the opportunity to change by hearing a different point of view.
- I want this platform, my photography business, to be more than just “I’m a photographer”. My goal is to make this a place where you can grow as a person, too..and have beautiful photos taken 😉
I’ve talked about sustainability for over a year now. I have made some Youtube videos about products I use and places I bought them. So here’s my story:
My family has recycled since I could remember. Recycling things like, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastics, newspapers, magazines, and plastic bags. So I never threw away any of those things, we had separate bins and would make trips to the recycling center probably once or twice a month.
It wasn’t until our city quit recycling specific plastics, which included water bottles, that I wanted to take more action. I used to bring a water bottle to school every day, and my car would fill up with half drank bottles that I wouldn’t clean out of my car for a few weeks at a time…. what a waste, right?? It’s definitely not something I’m proud of.
Plastic straws or to-go boxes/cups from restaurants were just a normal thing to use I wasn’t as mindful of how much I used because honestly, I just wasn’t that aware of how much it affected the world, and I was focused on “getting what I wanted” because it was most convenient at the time. Also, I never thought to bring my own container or say “no” to the straw!
My priorities weren’t how they should’ve been, but once the city quit recycling water bottles in my area, I quit using them. I brought a reusable cup I had from home, always filled with water for whatever I had going on for the day: work, grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, working out, even spending time at home, I kept my (reusable) water bottle on me.
My actions snowballed. One thing led to another. I wanted to do more and once I realized it was possible to do that, I did my best to continue to make changes. A spark of motivation really hit me when I found the Package Free shop. Haha if you follow me, or know me at all, you’ve heard about this store quite a few times. I love this store. More like, I love the founder, Laruen Singer.
To give a brief backstory, she became zero waste about 8 years ago, and all of her trash that she has used in that time can fit in a mason jar. I’m sure you’re probably thinking, there’s no way. Oh, but there is. By “trash” she means things that cannot be recycled or composted AKA biodegradable products. So yes, she might have a few plastic items in her life, but she disposes of them correctly and goes the extra mile to make sure it’s done right. That’s why I really look up to her, and love her store. It’s a requirement for other brands (who are wanting to sell their products through the Package Free shop) to not have any bit of it not recyclable or compostable. All the way down to the packaging they use to deliver the products in bulk to the warehouses.
So, yeah, that’s why I love PF so much, and yes, I went to their only location at the time last fall and it was beautiful and everything I ever dreamed it could be. (I have another blog post in the works for other reliable stores I shop at).
Back to the story! To describe my personality, when I decide to do something, I do it ALL THE WAY. There’s no half-assing it around here. Which meant, once I decided I wanted to make switches to reduce my waste, I came a little obsessed with it for all the right reasons! The only flaw with my personality is that I dive in head first, then figure out the rest. I do some research–enough to understand, and then I just….start.
I quickly started switching things out. Luckily my birthday was only a month or so after I decided to be committed to this lifestyle, so I got a few sustainable gifts to help get me started.
Some of the switches I made:
- Bringing a reusable water bottle/cup everywhere I went
- Saying “no” to plastic straws
- Produce bags and reusable bags for groceries to reduce the plastic bag use.
- Reusable cutlery to carry in my bag/purse instead of using the plastic to-go forks/spoons/knives
- Bamboo toothbrush instead of a “traditional” plastic toothbrush
- Tried a few different toothpaste alternatives
- Used the remaining bits of my skincare products and switched those out to a bar form
- ^ same thing with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash products
- Bringing a reusable container to put my leftovers in (from going out to eat)
- A compostable floss made of silk, that also came with a reusable glass jar
There are so many more things that I do now, but this is a pretty good list of things that I wanted to start switching out as soon as I could.
I want you to know that I am NOT perfect at this. I still create way more waste than I want, but all we can do is try! So remember…
You will struggle sometimes.
There will be feelings of guilt when you “fail” to do what you promised yourself you would do.
Moments of doubt or fear that you will be made fun of.
Things you accomplished.
Times you are so proud you did what was right. That you didn’t conform.
You will need …
to understand that you cannot do everything
You won’t be able to change everyone.
There might be people who feel insecure or guilty for not doing the right things, and try to belittle you and tear you down. Don’t listen to them.
Just like anything in life, good things take time. Every penny counts, and we all start somewhere. There’s a quote saying, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” It’s true. Even to cut plastic partially out of your life is better than thinking you won’t be able to do it perfectly, and then never end up trying.
So if you have been interested in reducing your waste, start with small habits. Say “no” to a straw, decide to eat in the restaurant instead of ordering take-out. Bring a cup/tumbler, with you! If you don’t have reusable bags to bring with you to the grocery store, bring the plastic bags you already had from the store and reuse those. Being zero-waste or reducing your waste, doesn’t have to be name brand. As long as you are making efforts to quit creating more waste, that’s a perfect place to start.
Reach out if you have anything to share, or want to make switches but don’t know where to start? I’m always here! I want to help you. I want us to cheer everyone on!