I thought when I started this project that I needed to do it 100%. Maybe 110%. To pinpoint every single opportunity to cut down on waste and go all-out. After all, Zero Waste is an absolute, right? It means I have to make zero. waste.
This dog is not concerned with perfection. And she is definitely not Zero Waste.
I started to realize pretty early on, though, that taking this project to the nth degree could easily drive me nuts (not to mention poor Mr. Bear, who definitely did not sign up for this on purpose…) The idea of going ZW probably appealed to me in the first place because of my fairly intense nature. But I have realized that I’ve got to just let it go sometimes, or it will start being a burden rather than a cause for daily mindfulness.
And that’s exactly what I want it to be! For me, and for you if you’re doing a similar project. I am not going to achieve a perfect Zero Waste lifestyle. I read No Impact Man. That dude was committed, but there were still things he couldn’t avoid (and in the end, things that he chose not to avoid.) In other words, even were I to say to myself: “I’m going to do this completely and perfectly”… I would fail. And that would take all the fun out of it for sure.
So instead I have come to approach this with balance in mind. Whenever I am faced with options, I do my best to make the ZW choice, if it exists.
I’d say I succeed about 90% of the time. The other 10%? Well, I still buy cheese in a plastic wrapper, because I love cheese and I haven’t found a grocery store convenient to my home that will let me have cheese without the plastic. If and when the opportunity to make that change presents itself, I will happily hop on it. In the meantime, I enjoy my cheese and don’t feel (too) guilty about the packaging.
One of the truly amazing things about this project, and I’ve mentioned this before but I really feel like it bears repeating, is how a few relatively minor adjustments have so dramatically reduced our waste output. Between the compost bin and shopping in bulk, we have easily cut back on 80% of our waste. Another 10% comes from educating myself about environmental impact so I can make wiser choices when it comes to consumption and disposal. It’s amazing how quickly it’s become a simple, low-stress part of my life. I think about ZW every day, definitely, but I don’t have to spend a whole lot of mental energy on it anymore. It’s become as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth.
Does this photo have anything to do with this post? No. But Simon and Ceci turned 1 this week. Happy Birthday little monsters!
Another really cool thing is that the ZW movement seems to be gathering steam right now, and I’m starting to feel like there is a critical mass of people interested in cutting down on waste. I posted about the new ZW grocery store that just opened up in Austin earlier this week, and I have to tell you that that little piece of news has made my whole week a little brighter.
It has made me feel better about falling short of perfection, because I really do think that if a bunch of us put some real effort in, going ZW (or getting really close!) will get that much easier. And that is a wonderful thing for everybody.
What about you? Do you struggle with perfection? Do you find it hard to do something if you can’t do it 100%?