The Decision to Do More
Before you begin to stress -- in thought that this story may be advocating the decision to overexert yourself or say ‘yes’ to more, the exact thing we know not to do for mental and physical wellbeing -- let me preface by saying: this is not the intent.
Rather, I want to introduce the idea of intentionally choosing to not always take the easy route when it comes to your daily decisions and instead, realizing that a small amount of motivation to do something more can go a long way.
My journey into living intentionally and incorporating zero-waste habits into my lifestyle has been slow at times, filled with imperfections and ultimately a chance to learn life lessons and skills that transcend past my personal environmental choices: one of which being that convenience is usually the easiest choice, but not always the right one. I want to share ways that we can all be better to our planet with the disclaimer that it does not need to include a financial commitment, but rather it does sometimes come with extra brainpower and time instead. But let me also say, for a cause that you care about, whether it is this or anything else in life, the small sacrifices never really feel that way.
Read on to learn ways I reduce my waste that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, too.
Dispose of unwanted textiles correctly: It isn’t a revolutionary concept to sell like-new or high-end apparel items that you no longer want or to donate things that are a little more lived-in. But, many people are unaware of the ability to recycle unwanted textiles such as a solo sock, unsalvageable tees or sweatpants, or anything else of that nature. A simple peruse of the internet should provide the location of local drop off bins that will recycle any and all of your unwanted textiles. As one of the leading items in landfills, it’s important to me to get textiles out of landfills, especially because there are so many disposal options.
Keep and love those canvas bags: I think it is common practice today for people to bring their own bags to the grocery (or any) store with them. This particular lifestyle habit is one that takes a little more brain power, as aforementioned, than just using plastic once you get there. For example, I have to plan and remember to take my reusable bags with me, and since I try to bring produce bags as well, this requires making a shopping list and pre-planning which bags I need to bring beforehand. Although you don’t necessarily have to do that, know most importantly, to show your canvas bags love by keeping them in any place that you may need them (your car, backpack or workplace) and know that you can always refuse plastic bags: produce doesn’t ever need to be bagged in plastic and if you’re running into a shop for one item, you don’t need to carry it out in a plastic bag either!
Compost: This one is hard, especially if you’re living in a city and don’t have access to a compost service or I don’t know, don’t feel like you could sustain a city of worms in your house?! Don’t worry, I’m not one to recommend that one! It took me a few months of research and keeping an eye out to find a composting method that was available and worked for my lifestyle. So, my advice here is to consider it and research, if it’s something that is available to you via public bins, pickup service or your backyard, you should participate! (If you’re Boston-based, I highly recommend Bootstrap Compost.)
Refuse plastic one-time use items: Here’s a quick example of a situation you may experience: An office that has paper and plastic plates and utensils on their counter, but also a cabinet full of dish and flatware… All that’s left to do is commit to the two extra minutes cleaning the silverware that you used after your lunch or afternoon snack, as opposed to just throwing away the paper equivalents. And simply apply that mentality to any situation you’re in.
At the end of the day, it’s important to spread the message that imperfection is human, in any capacity or facet of life. I succeed and fail at my own advice in navigating this lifestyle often and have learned to embrace the ebb and flow. If you care passionately about something, do what you can to advocate for it and know that your decision to do more, albeit big or small, matters.
Words by our wonderful ambassador Jessica Lambi