It’s a truth universally acknowledged that zero waste is really freaking difficult.
To quote another classic: It is known.
It’s difficult to get into and it’s difficult to sustain over the longer period of time. It takes time and effort to track down products with no packaging or with one that can be recycled. It takes time and effort to recycle. Not to mention that not everybody has the means to compost.
With the barrier to entry set so high, is it any surprise that some people give up for a time, a lot of them for good?
Add on top of that the strict rules some of the online community members hold everybody to (accusations of “you’re not zero waste if you’re not doing this or that!” and stuff of that sort), cutting the support network for the newcomers, what else can we expect?
Well, if you feel like you’re failing zero waste, I’m here to tell you:
If you feel like you need to take a break from zero waste because it costing you too much both financially and mentally, I’m here to tell you:
It’s okay to take a break from zero waste. It’s a demanding lifestyle and many people (me included) will tell you it’s not for everybody. Influencers like Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer make it look aesthetically pleasing and easy, but it’s not. It’s far from that.
And if you feel like it’s not for you, take a break. Reevaluate your priorities. Do more research. Maybe there are other solutions that will work much better for you. Maybe Low Impact Movement is something that will appeal to you more. Maybe participating in action like #MeatlessMonday or #NoPlasticJuly will help you take one more step towards the ideal you’re aspiring to. Maybe you want to focus on activism and getting companies and supermarkets make zero waste more accessible for the average person. Maybe you’re good at writing letters.
Maybe you’re the kind of PTA mom who can organize a recycling drive at your kids’ school (I kid you not, my nephew goes to a school where the kids can affect the grade in behavior – it’s a thing in Poland; by bringing recyclable paper to school).
Taking a break from zero waste doesn’t make you the source of all evil. You’re no the devil if you can’t afford products without its plastic packaging.
It’s not the end of the world. Every little bit helps. Every little change you make is okay. It’s enough. You don’t have to do it all, all the time. If collecting a year of your waste in a mason jar isn’t something you feel like you can do, don’t automatically dismiss the entire movement.
Take a break. Ask yourself what’s important to you. What one little thing you can do to get closer to the ideal?
Remember: it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
We need millions of people doing zero waste imperfectly, not one person who does it perfectly from start to finish.
Just remember to get back up and keep going!