Zero Waste Week
Starting monday, it’s Zero Waste Week.
While of course sustainable choices don’t limit themselves to certain weeks of the year, this could be a really great place to get started, get inspired or get some fresh ideas.
Zero waste week is an award winning, annual campaign, launched in 2008 by Rachelle Strauss and reaches over 54 million people, from as many as 72 countries.
It’s goal is to help you preserve resources, save money and reduce landfill.
The website is full of useful tips and tricks, even specified for a lot of individual countries. You can sign up by adding your email adres to their list.
This will get you daily emails for the duration of zero waste week, and an occasional newsletter afterwards.
Of course you can always unsubscribe, but I find them helpful in keeping myself motivated in my new habits, plus they have great tips.
What I loved about the subscription is that you make a pledge to do something in the coming week – like not use any plastic bags, go to the farmers market instead of the supermarket, anything goes really.
Small steps do really add up to big changes.
Apart from bringing the campaign to everyones attention, I wanted to share my thoughts on the how and why of doing something like this, starting with the latter.
We all are to smart not to
Thinking about this post and assembling my thoughts, I was bouncing ideas off the wall on how to get it across, pondering weather I should choose the ‘fun’ angle.
‘Why start zero wasting? Because it’s fun!’
Frankly, I don’t think that’s gonna cut it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s fun. There are a lot of things about this that I genuinely enjoy, things that make my day a little brighter or bring a smile to my face. But that is not why I do it.
The consumer needs to be presented with a complex narrative that respects their intelligence.
Quoted here is Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., during his speech on the moral issues surrounding the production of jeans at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
To me, this sums it up beautifully. The things we buy have a story, a narrative:
They were made by another person, they were made from something that was grown, harvested or produced in some way.
So many people, animals, forests, were involved in the making of a certain item, even before we had the thought of buying it.
The ‘complex narrative’ Dillinger refers to in his speech, actually means this:
For most items you own, eat or wear, the whole planet had to get involved in making them.
Does this sound like a bit much to you? It does to me. We are really asking a lot. And to top it off, a lot of the things we buy are ‘single use’ or ‘fast’.
A lot of this sounds like bad news, doesn’t it? I does, to me as well.
‘I am a consumer.’ It sounds more like a confession of guild now then anything else when you put it like that. Though there is something to be said for that statement, in the economic sense of the word it is not true.
It means that, by taking part in this system of buying and using things, we are part of the story of those things.
And actually, that is great news!
Because here is another thing in answering the ‘why’ of zero wasting. I believe I am an intelligent human being. I also have room in my heart and mind for much more the my own needs and wants. Moreover, I believe the same holds true for you.
Now, I know that what I consume has a story. I can choose not to learn that story. I can choose to tell myself that everything I own, buy or want has a simple narrative, one that I don’t need to worry about. I can live my life running around in fast fashion, eating fast food and throwing away everything i don’t momentarily need of want anymore.
Choose how you consume
But, and here comes the good news: because we are part of the story, we get to choose. We get to choose how we spend our money. We get to choose how our clothes are made. We get to choose from what cup we drink our coffee.
We get to steer our community and communities across the world in a different direction, simply through our actions. I think that is such an amazing opportunity, and I believe that everyone should get to do that.
Having said all that, should we now all embark on a hippie queeste, wearing nothing but handwoven robes we made ourselves from hand harvested hennep, singing and dancing through the forest while eating raw leaves that we picked with our bare hands?
Good god, no. Please, lets not do that. If you wanted to, sure, but the majority of us fit in just fine with our espresso’s. And that’s perfectly okay.
But, having established that we all are intelligent, big hearted people who are in fact to smart not to be part of this conversation, what should we do?
We can start by making small changes in our everyday life. We can start to think about our habits, our routines, and how we can adjust them to change the story for the better. The form a different narrative, one that we can sustain and one that can sustain us, our planet, our lives and many, many more to come.
Here are some of the things that got me started and keep me going:
1) Start small. Do not demand of yourself that you never buy anything plastic again or that you will always wear sustainable outfits from now on. Not only will you put way to much pressure on yourself (and your spouse, friends, etc)
It will take away all the fun, making it very hard to last.
Just choose one thing at a time. Bring a reusable coffee cup to work. Get your veggies in a paper or cotton bag. Refuse the straw.
Go to the farmers market in stead of the supermarket. (They usually have coffee stands with cake (!!), making it the perfect saturday morning outing.)
It will add up. Small staps make very big changes.
2) Have fun! I’m serious. I’ve had really great chats with people when I ask to get my water bottle refilled or when I want my take away coffee in my bamboo cup. Much more then your usual monday morning grumpy face will this brighten up your day.
Find some zero waste friends. Support each other, exchange useful tips and make silly videos.
3) Get yourself educated. For me, this is a big one. Knowing the story of how we got here, where things come from, why it is bad is a huge motivation to me. Yes, sometimes it is horrid and saddening, and it can leave me in tears. But, it also makes for a very clear vision of what I want for the future. What I want for this planet that I call my home, that I feel so very connected to. Gaining knowledge has been a game changer for me.
So, watch that documentary, read that article, get google cracking. I promise to do my part on this end and list my favorite docu’s, article and sites soon.
4) The last one is a no brainer of course – sign up for Zero Waste Week! Hop over to that website, have a look around, fill out that form and get started.
You can track your journey on Instagram using #ZeroWasteWeek and/or tagging @myzerowaste. Of course (and i would genuinely be thrilled) you can also get me in the loop by hashtagging #alleswatnodigis
I am looking forward to seeing you all there.
Have a great week!