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Zero Waste Month: Week 4 (Jennifer)

Peaches on a cutting board

We’ve made it to the last week of documenting our zero waste transition. Before you read about week 4 (which was written 2 weeks late), catch up on Zero Waste Month: Week 1, Zero Waste Month: Week 2, and Zero Waste Month: Week 3.

What are your thoughts on the transition to a zero waste lifestyle so far?
Two words: not perfect. I think the level of difficulty depends on how much you want to do. When I started the transition to zero waste, my goal was to be more active in a journey to limit my plastic consumption. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change my lifestyle in one day. There were many factors involved – shifting my lifestyle, using the things I already owned (super important!!), being more conscious about buying things I needed (do I really need it?), and overall, enjoying the continuous learning experience. There are days where it’ll be hard and I will be frustrated, but in those moments, I try to remind myself that small impacts contribute to the bigger picture.

What did you find most surprising about the zero waste transition? About yourself?
Sometimes I am still reluctant to open up my bag and take out reusable utensils. I know I shouldn’t mind what others think, but I just do not like bringing attention to myself. Luckily, I’ve found most responses to be positive and people are curious to learn. Once at a ramen shop, the waitress asked if I brought my own utensils because I didn’t trust that chopsticks at restaurants were clean. When I told her it was for sustainable reasons, she thought it was very cool! The support and positive responses I’ve received from friends and strangers are exciting and I love that people want to learn more about how they can help save the environment.

What habits do you think you’ll be more flexible about?
I definitely won’t be keeping track of my waste in a mason jar. I think it can be counterproductive to the transition. When I documented the transition, I found that when I buy something which cannot be recycled I will think, “Oh I can’t buy this because I’ll have to add it to my jar,” instead of, “I shouldn’t buy this because it’s going to pollute the environment.” Down the line, I think that mindset can make me lose track of what’s really important and why I’m doing this. I’m doing this for the planet – not to prove anything to anyone. I understand that it’s a great motivator for some (and that’s great!), but it’s not something for me.

Any tips for someone who’d like to transition to a zero waste lifestyle?
I really believe having the right mindset, tools, and support system are important for the transition. Understand that it’s going to be an ongoing journey. Gather the tools you need to replace plastic in your life. You can start off simple with a reusable water bottle, stainless steel straw, reusable utensils, or produce bags – most of these things we already have at home. I talked more about that in my Zero Waste: Week 2. Then, have a conversation with friends who are going through the same transition so that you can continue to motivate and teach one another. If you don’t have a group of friends who are on the same journey, join groups online. Two Facebook groups I’m in are: Journey to Zero Waste and Zero Waste Minimalist.

Day 21

Waste from day 21
Waste on the ground is from week 4. Waste in containers is from previous weeks.

Day 25

waste from day 25
Waste on the ground is from week 4. Waste in containers is from previous weeks.

Day 28

waste from day 28
Waste on the ground is from week 4. Waste in containers is from previous weeks.

What’s in my jar?

waste from week 4
Left to right, top to bottom: sticker from bar soap, a ticket from Giants vs. Dodgers game (will probably keep this in a memory box), receipts from eating out and grocery shopping, plastic spoon from an ice cream sample, back of sticker from a name tag

Thank you for following my transition and journey to zero waste. If you have any questions, comments, or tips to help with my ongoing transition, please leave them in the comments section below or email me at tinycaravan@gmail.com.

Cheers,
Jennifer

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