“Please don’t leave before we’ve had a chance to have a chat about something else. There’s a question, I’ve been longing to ask you.”
I was at the opening night of an exhibition that I’d put together for our local history archive. (You see I don’t only talk rubbish!) I’d been answering questions all night about the stories I’d turned up, the documents I’d found, the people I’d interviewed in this wonderful exhibition showcasing 140 years of cricket in our village. But even though I was there to talk about cricket, I was expecting the question to be how a particular thing might be recycled. I get that a lot!
“How does it feel, Anna, now that the world is catching up with you?”
“Wow! That’s deep”, I think, but I really wasn’t sure what he meant.
“You’ve been talking about Zero Waste living and being careful what we buy, how we consume, and what we do with what’s left behind for years now. How does it feel now everyone’s finally taking notice? Now that your lifestyle is becoming more mainstream and so many more people are thinking about what they buy, where they buy it, how it is packaged, how do you feel?”
“Relieved, Ecstatic, Elated, Thankful…” any one of those words would do it! But actually it is more than that, I feel more comfortable about what I’m doing, and I feel like far more people understand why and feel they want to do the same, even if they don’t quite feel ready for Zero Waste, they want to reduce their waste and they want to think about their impact on the planet.
He was right, my Zero Waste Lifestyle used to feel just a little bit eccentric. So often people would watch me hand over my plastic pots for produce that normally went in a single use plastic bag and say, “That’s a good idea.” But it took more than thinking it was a good idea to get people to do the same. Now there are loads of us doing it. I feel less weird! I feel like it is about to become the new normal!
So here we are at the beginning of Zero Waste Week 2019 and there will be millions of us joining in, just like there were millions this year around the world who gave up meat and dairy for Veganuary and took part in Plastic-Free July and are probably continuing with some of the new habits the picked it. Although we call it Zero Waste Week, it is of course just the first week of the rest of your ZWW life.
Do you agree…? We’re reaching a tipping point!
People are finally starting to see the connection between what they waste and what impact they are having on climate change. I’m so excited that this year’s big Zero Waste Week topic is the Climate Crisis. It is a shame that so often it takes a crisis to get us to take action, but as a species I truly think that we were mostly designed to react. So with our survival instincts piqued, we are at the ready to find survival mechanisms that cut waste. And here’s my BIG WHY! You’ve signed up right? You’ve read the ZWW email that popped into your inbox this morning, yes? If not then go and get yourself on that list! Sign here and don’t spend the rest of the week relying on mine (or anyone else’s) second hand interpretation. Be first hand, and feel it. Don’t just read this and do nothing!
So, as I said… (dramatic pause and deep breath)… my BIG WHY
I really don’t understand why as a species we produce so much waste, why we don’t value nature’s resources and how we got to the situation where kids are missing school to tell the grown ups to think about their behaviour! But I do think we can fix this problem. And waste is a good place to start.
It is about more than just disposable coffee cups and plastic straws. Yes, there are people looking into (and already making) properly recyclable coffee cups and more and more people are buying groovy, trendy reusable cups. (of course I have one too. I’ve had it for 7 years and it often gets an outing without even being used). There are people who are replacing plastic straws with paper ones or metal ones. Ahh! Have they thought that through, I worry? What is the relative carbon footprint of those? Why do you need a straw anyway? Sometimes we are trying to fix a problem but we create a new problem with the fix. We don’t look deep into the problem before we run off and find what we think is a solution, without thinking it through.
Fixing a problem with technology is great, but Rachelle and I talk about this issue a lot at our virtual “Zero Waste Towers”. The Zero Waste Week ethos is about our overall attitude to stuff! For me, my BIG WHY is that I think we’ve gone a bit crazy with consumption. And life has taken on a ridiculous pace.
Do we really need “Coffee on the Go” or “Lunch on the Hop” as part of our culture? Do our fridges really need to be full all the time? Are we afraid of supermarket shelves being bare at the end of the day?
So, for me, what I am basically saying is that Zero Waste Week this year is all about slowing down and having a bit of a think about our entire lifestyle. Why have we all become so damn busy? Why do we need so much stuff? Why are we so demanding as a species?
By the way, I don’t have the answer, but I do think we can and will change. I have and I will keep on doing so as I learn. We can and will slow down. Let this week be the start of that. Press pause, sit back, have a read and contemplate this lovely planet, and how we can bring our consumption in line with its bounty.
For the Day 1 challenge – this was the article I most wanted to share.