Man down! Or as those crazy men from Monty Python once screamed, ‘runaway’ from the apparently harmless white rabbit. I feel like there are almost not enough analogies to describe my experience in going zero waste so far.
This week, I was back at the supermarket again, but this time, my local Pak ‘n’ Save. Guess what, they got me again. I walked into the shop, gritting my teeth, ready for battle, and voilà, there they were….Whittaker’s chocolate, and on an even better special than last time. This time I had a bit of an epiphany as I grabbed those suckers and put them into my trolley. I realised that I can’t just go cold turkey. My journey towards zero waste is going to have to be a long process of gradual elimination and constant learning. I think otherwise my wife and I would end up with severe malnourishment from only eating the same meal every night. On the bright side, I did finally manage to get to a Bin Inn (a wholesale food dispenser) and to my joy, I found some new ways of getting snack food that is zero waste. God bless you, Bin Inn.
I think the thing that I have most enjoyed over the past week though, is the conversations that I’m having with friends and family. They are genuinely interested in what I’m trying to do and are making changes of their own to help protect our environment for future generations.
A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of going to the West Coast in the South Island of New Zealand, to help tidy up a refuse spill. There was a massive deluge of rain that caused a rubbish dump to spill out its guts, so to speak. This turned into an ecological disaster for the local community with rubbish scattered over an area of almost 75km from its original site. While working through the tonnes of waste, I realised the enormity of our waste problem.
We humans love the idea of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ But I think that this way of thinking can only get us so far. Seeing all this waste littered across New Zealand’s normally pristine landscape made me realise that as hard as going zero waste is, and as hard as it can be to maintain, I have to follow through with it. I often wonder though, how do you transfer the changes made from a small country with a small population, to large countries with massive populations? And when do we start to realise that we no longer have any room to dump our crap anymore, or that we are unable to grow food because that crap has leached into the soil we eat our food from? We already have an issue with drinking water containing microplastics, which is completely crazy. And apparently we consume a credit card of plastic every month. This has re-enforced and re-energised me to continue plodding on this zero waste challenge.
This week’s successes and failures:
- I started to shop at wholefoods places and realised how much it can cut down on the waste I produce, while also helping local businesses stay afloat. The last thing I want to see is them going out of business and for us to no longer have access to such amazing resources.
- I have become more determined to grow my own food. I already do this, but I want to learn to maximize the land I have and how to incorporate other ways of growing, i.e. portable raised beds that can be moved depending on what time of year it is.
- I found a new way of motivating myself after helping to clear up the rubbish that spilled out on the West Coast. Now, whenever I find myself faltering, I just look at the pictures of the waste that I was part of creating.
- Again, I was seduced by the marketing giant that spends millions and millions of dollars every year to actively engage my psyche to consume crap.
- I forgot to do my research. Before heading over to the West Coast, I created waste by making my own scroggin. I used the excuse of needing high energy food to snack on, but it turned out that they were providing snacks to us, so it went to waste.
- Toothpaste, still a problem. Though I have started to use less toothpaste than I normally would have, so I can become less of a consumer.
For those who are tracking my blog, thanks for reading. I hope this is encouraging you to also take seriously the direction our planet’s health is heading. I think that sometimes action needs to come from the bottom up. We can’t expect those in power to make big changes without some sort of grass roots movement in motion. Will I be able to do it all by myself? Not a chance in hell, but I’m not willing to flounder in no man’s land, thinking that nothing can be done.
For more information on zero waste, have a look at this website for ideas and challenges.
Bio: Chris Chick is the name, accepting that I am 40 is never my game. I am a person who lives life on a day to day basis, realising the time is now, and now is the time, with a skip I my step. If you ever get the chance to meet me, please accept my apologies now, I hope I can make it up to you another time. As you can see, I do not take myself too seriously, but I do think deeply about life and purpose and whether what I am doing is positive in its own right. This is why I decided to challenge myself to the core and take seriously my impact on the world from a consumeristic standpoint. Fortunately I have always been a minimalist in practice, and would rather live out of a bag than a house. It is much easier to be content with life when you have little possessions, which I know is easier said than done for many people. I decided to try and go zero waste for two reasons, is it actually possible? and I wanted to experimentally have the background knowledge to actively engage people in conversation. All my previous conversations were theoretical and held little weight when coming up against retorts. Please join me on this practical and spiritual journey helping each other and the world one decision at a time.
Disclaimer: OPINION PIECE – The opinions expressed in this article may not necessarily reflect the views of OSOF.