I think change is so daunting to us because we think it has to be immediate, drastic, and successful. We think it has to be black and white in terms of success or failure despite our conscious understanding that not a single aspect of life is black and white, except for pandas, penguins, killer whales, and zebras. I thought that would be a shorter list..
The same goes for going zero waste. I’m feeling no insignificant unease at the fact that it is Jan 11 and I am still producing waste…likely due in some part to my tendency towards an all or nothing attitude. The resolution is already teaching me something, even though I haven’t really dug in yet. It’s teaching me to embrace the transitional phase. The phase of complete imperfection in the face of a pregnant desire to expediently fulfill a goal.
It’s teaching me that transition is where you learn things. It’s where you observe your habits, making note of what you consume and haven’t even thought about. Or what potential waste streams are put in your life that you don’t currently and may never have a choice about. It’s a state of hyperawareness, yet inaction. It’s peaceful yet also painful.
To get away from the conceptual and down to the gritty – what transition means is using up your likely stacks of supplies of disposable, packaged, nonrecyclable products – rather than throwing them out unused in the name of zero waste – to replace them with reusable products.
In short, transition means you have claimed to be going zero waste, but are still actively producing waste, i.e.:
- It means my pantry looks like the picture above because I’m using up all my packaged foods and slowly and deliberately drinking the rest of my energy drinks housed in aluminum cans.
- It means I’m still stuck under the grateful weight of all the Holiday gifts and their wrappings.
- It means I’m cleaning out my desk and procuring nonrecyclable stickers that are 10 years old.
- I’m using up all my kleenex and wax paper covered cough drops and (gasp) pads and tampons.
- It means I’m still eating ridiculously packaged Christmas candy.
- It means that I forget and use a paper towel or toilet paper when I don’t really need it.
- It basically means that you are consistently taking the metaphorical trash out for the next couple months.
Unless you are neurotic, going zero waste is going to take more than a couple weeks. If you are smart, you will take the transition time as a chance to be mindful and observant of yourself, without pushing the change that you have already decided will happen to happen before your literal and figurative house is ready for it.
Deadlines are the best motivational speakers imho. I’m setting a deadline of Feb 28 to use up all these products – they will not go in my mason jar as waste produced. However, everything that I buy new that produces waste will! It’s a weird thing to manage, so I’m actually really looking forward to the end of Feb.