beginning · zero waste

To Zero Waste or not to Zero Waste

I’m not going to lie. Zero Waste is a seductive idea for a lifestyle that I would very much like to strive for. After watching True Cost (a documentary on Netflix about fast fashion), and a marathon on YouTube videos on plastic, and the impact waste has on the world; zero waste seems like the only logical choice.

After I watched hours upon hours of Bea Johnson’s and Lauren Singer’s interviews and talks, watching their mason jars of the waste they created over the years… I was both extremely motivated and absolutely terrified.

Because in that moment, with my research high still in place and the enthusiasm for the topic at peak value, I knew that despite all the good intentions, there was no way in hell I would be able to achieve that zero waste goal.

I live in Poland, a country which recycles only 29% of its waste and sends 61% of the waste created to landfill. The waste containers available in my apartment buildings are coded with colors: yellow for recycling (where you’re supposed to put in plastic and glass), green for paper, blue for everything else.

While you can get vegetables, meat and bread package free at various smaller shops (or, you know, chain bakeries), there isn’t very many places where you can get other food in bulk. If you’re lucky, you can find some supplies in paper/cardboard boxes.

I could reduce my waste, but I wouldn’t be able to achieve the zero waste goal for years and years and years… If ever.

To be honest, that realization bummed me out a little (or, you know, a lot), but I decided not to give up. Because while the unattainable goal of zero waste would tease me from afar, like the idea of buying my own apartment (and saving up that ginormous down payment), I needed to have smaller goals along the way. Breaking down a goal into smaller milestones has worked really well for me in the past, but the key was always getting the smaller goals small enough for me to achieve them within a reasonable amount of time. At the same time, those goals needed to be big enough for me to feel like I was making progress.

What smaller goals I broke the Holy Grail of Zero Waste in this case?

Well, I decided to start with LOWERING my waste, DECLUTTERING, and REUSING stuff I already have, so that I can STOP BUYING new things.

The low impact movement seems like a good place to be while I get myself sorted for the journey to reach Zero Waste


STEP 1: Stop buying new things

(I’m combining that with NoSpendYear, so that every step of the challenge can be counted as win for zero waste as well.)

STEP 2: Reuse the things I already have before I throw anything out

That way, I will not only save money, but I will engage my creativity trying to figure out what use an item can have.

STEP 3: Reduce the amount of stuff in plastic

This is going to be the hardest part, because nowadays everything is packed in plastic. So buying plastic-free alternatives, especially in Poland, will be difficult, but it’s worth the effort, I think.

I will keep you updated on my journey 🙂

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