I’m one of those people who make a laundry list of lofty goals for the new year, every year. By the end of the first few months I always come to find I’ve stuck to one, maybe two.. but usually not fully sticking to whatever the goal was. I’ve also learned using the new year as an excuse to set new goals doesn’t typically work for me, and that I need to set them on my own time, no matter if it’s January or June.
However, almost all of 2018 I beat myself up mentally for not doing more in terms of sustainability efforts and working toward a zero waste home. I had the thought that I needed to get started so many times in the year, but any time I finally mustered up the courage to forge ahead I became so overwhelmed by how little I was actually doing, I didn’t even know where to start.
Things are about this change this year. I realized I could come up with excuses for eternity and that being overwhelmed just wasn’t good enough anymore. Our planet needs help, and we are the only ones here who can go anything about it.
So I decided to make one goal for this year: work toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Period. It’s vague enough that I won’t feel like I’m failing if I go slower than I expected. This goal has no end date, and the options to achieve a sustainable lifestyle are pretty much endless.
As I mentioned earlier, if you start Googling and doing research on this it is almost guaranteed you will become overwhelmed and think to yourself “how am I ever going to there? My house is full of plastic and wasteful things!” Fear not. While this is true for most, taking small, teeny tiny baby steps is the way to go. I’m telling you. Here was my three-step process for how to even start achieving this goal.
Step 1: Do your research. But not too much.
I know this sounds a little weird, but the amount of resources out there is beyond what any one person needs to read. Usually I appreciate the wealth of information the World Wide Web can provide, but since I already knew this was going to overwhelm me I decided to keep it narrow for now. I picked two books that had solid reviews and seemed digestible and realistic enough for what I wanted to achieve.
I chose Give a Sh*t. Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet by Ashlee Piper and Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson to get me started. I’ve only finished the first one and I have to say it was a great place to start. She’s cut-the-bullshit straightforward and backs everything she discusses in the book with lots of stats and facts that will blow your mind. She also includes some natural home recipes for cleaners, soaps, as well as food recipes that are all pretty quick and easy. I haven’t finished the other book yet, so I’ll come back and update this post once I have!
In addition to this reading material, I decided to follow some well-known sustainable, zero waste Instagrammers for daily inspiration. I save posts with information I want to read later or with tips and tricks that I plan to implement. I’m basically trying to brainwash myself with subliminal messaging. Since I spend so much time on Instagram, I’m convinced this will work.
Step 2: Do a quick inventory, and decide where you want to start.
At the end of the day, there are a million ways to make your home more sustainable. So again, start small. I decided to go room by room to figure out which ones were causing the most issues at this point. For me, it’s the kitchen and bathroom. I chose these rooms because 1. There is so much room for improvement in both and 2. There are a lot of resources that talk about these rooms with easy ways to make improvements over time.
See example above: I traded plastic soap containers for bar soap and a plastic toothbrush for a recyclable, compost-friendly toothbrush
Step 3: Assemble your starter kit.
The great thing about this starter kit is it can literally include whatever you want in it. I had some very basic things I didn’t already own (like a lunch bag for work), so I chose items I could easily switch out in my daily life. I found this really fun to put together, and it motivated me to make more switches (like the bathroom examples above!). Once you make your starter kit, you’ll want to keep going.
I promise you, getting started is really that simple. My biggest piece of advice if you’re just getting started is to go at your own pace. Eventually, I’d love to have a zero waste home and eat a plant-based only diet, but I know I have a long way to go.
My hope is to continue to share advice, tips, tricks, etc. about my sustainability journey here. Even if I inspire just one person, I hope I somehow can make a difference. It’s a long road ahead, but I’m more motivated than ever!
What sustainable practices have you implemented into your life?