I should start putting money in the swear jar every time I am tempted to open a post with the words “zero waste is hard, yo!” I would save up for the downpayment for my apartment in record time. Why? Because it feels like it’s the main sentiment I want to get across every time I write about zero waste and sustainability.
It’s hard because it’s not as accessible as minimalism.
It’s hard because it takes more money (more often than not).
It’s hard because it takes more time an effort, not only during the shopping process but before and after as well. You need research, you need time. You need a lot of things and very few of them are readily available.
How can we change that?
How can we make sustainability more accessible to a bigger number of people?
Here’s a list of things you can do. Spoiler, there’s a lot of local activism involved, so get ready to call and write a lot of people.
In no particular order:
- Talk your local store/supermarket into carrying reusable shopping bags
Right now, at least in Poland, right next to the cash register when you check out, there are a lot of plastic bags that you can take, or buy as you check out. There are also a lot of smaller items like candy, batteries, chewing gum, cigarettes, and condoms, that are items we usually grab on impulse. Impulse purchasing is a big thing and all the stores, no matter where they are located, put a lot of thought into making those areas next to cash registers entice us into buying more things than we need. Adding neatly packed reusable bags into that prime real estate should make it easier on people to choose more sustainable options than plastic bags
- Talk to your store/supermarket into promoting reusable shopping bags
I had a phase when I was watching extreme couponing on YouTube and one of the contestants introduced me to a policy her local supermarket was using: if you bring a reusable bag to pack your groceries into, they will deduct 30 cents or so from your total bill. I mean think about it! The money might not be a lot, but what a great way to motivate people into always bringing reusable bags with them when they grocery shop! There are supermarkets in London I think that don’t carry plastic bags at all. Talk to your local store, maybe they would be willing to promote the use of reusable bags in their own way as well!
- Take a time to thank a company you’re a fan of for their sustainable practices
It’s simple and sweet, but a little positive feedback can go a long way
- Ask your company to switch from using plastic cups to ceramic ones in the kitchen.
My employer recently made that switch, and let me tell you, it felt great to see rows of ceramic mugs in our work kitchen.
- Email a company making a product you use asking them to change the packaging from plastic to a more sustainable option.
You might think one email will not change anything, but if you send them regularily and other people join in as well, who knows. Let’s stay positive here!
- Check what are your local recycling schemes and see how you can promote it’s use in your neighborhood.
Not everybody knows how to recycle and not everybody has a mind to research that topic. Be the source of that information.
- Ask your municipality to promote the recycling scheme more in your neighborhood
In that same vein, ask your local government to put more effirt into promoting the recycling scheme that’s in place and maybe even expanding it if possible.
- Look into ways to set up a local community garden or a veggetable plot
It’s not something that’s common in many countries, but looking into the city ordinances and what it takes to set up a garden or a veggie plot for the neighborhood to use it worth it. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to talk your local council into dedicating some public land to the effort!
- Research more sustainable alternatives and promote them to your family and friends
Be like those “I watched X so you didn’t have to” channels on YouTube. Do the research so your family and friends don’t have to.
- Email companies asking for transparency when it comes to their production process
Demand insight into how their product is made. And follow up.
- Ask your friends and family what would convince them to turn to more sustainable options
Then see if you can make that happen. Make a project plan and go for it. Don’t assume you’ll fail just because it’s a lofty goal.
And most importantly, always be on the lookout for ways to make more sustainable alternatives more accessible to other people.
We can do it if we work together on this!