It’s been a year since I started striving to create a zero waste household, and over six and half years since I started living simply. It’s the summer of 2016 and I’m wondering what next, and also if I want to continue as I have been. I have no intention to give up on zero waste, but I’ve come across challenges along the way.
Zero waste is not only a huge challenge, but it can feel so discouraging when you are not meeting your goals.
For starters, I’ve completely wimped out on composting in a one bedroom apartment. Without composting it is impossible to be zero waste. If you are new to the concept of zero waste start here.
When visiting Portland, Oregon last fall, I saw that the city supported composting pickup just as most cities do for regular trash and recycling pickup. I wish Los Angeles was also this environmentally driven. I read that one woman in New York City froze her compost and took it to the farmer’s market weekly. The farmer’s market that I attend weekly doesn’t offer a composting service although I wish it did.
I’d love to hear more about others composting in an apartment as I haven’t found much discussion online. I know some have discovered that their buildings do not allow it. I could understand that. I honestly never even asked the management in which we rent from although I probably should.
Although I have made successful changes with a simple beauty regimen and minimizing waste with groceries, I have experienced my usual frustration with shoes.
I’ve also had some new thoughts around clothing, yet let’s talk shoes first. If you haven’t witnessed my traditional shoe rant, I’ll gladly spare you. To sum it up quickly, I have very narrow feet, so I can’t just pop into a second hand store and easily find shoes that fit. I did purchase a pair of brown boots and brown sandals secondhand earlier this year, but they have both failed me.
I spent more money fixing the brown boots than I did purchasing them. Unexpectantly these boots are killing my left foot specifically. I’m honestly not even sure why since they are not high heeled boots. I luckily have another pair of secondhand boots in black that will hopefully do much better in the long run. So far so good.
The sandals were old “new” stock from Etsy, and I also had them altered at my cobbler. The altered area broke once and I had to take them back to get them fixed again. Most recently the heel came off of the sole. Imagine that! This will be their third trip to the cobbler and the summer isn’t even over yet.
Out of complete annoyance and far from divinely guided ethics or zero waste, I stopped by Marshall’s and used a gift card that I had to purchase a new pair of flat sandals knowing they would not be fair trade.
As for clothing, I have been wanting to support more organic and fair trade slow fashion brands. Purchasing new items which can be found secondhand is also not zero waste. I would say that 90% of my wardrobe including shoes and accessories are secondhand, yet supporting small organic businesses are also important to me. I happily purchased four organic and fair trade clothing pieces this summer. I have been really enjoying them too. Read more on my focus on ethical fashion here.
Even after a year of striving for zero waste, we are ways from it despite our efforts. We have greatly minimized our plastic consumption, yet we are not 100% plastic-free either so we recycle. Every city is so different and the challenges that we all face on this journey is uniquely our own based on our lifestyle and desires.
I’m learning to give myself much more breathing room as I strive for making as much of a positive impact on this planet as I can while I’m living.
Sometimes the labels of conscious living goals alone can be stressful, yet they aren’t intended to be. I honestly believe that with each positive change we make for ourselves, our family, and the planet, no matter how small, it should not to be overlooked. You can see some of my zero waste success here!
I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed when I started living with less, yet I found my way. It feels no different on the environmental/ethical path I am currently on with loving our planet and those on it in mind. I’m not perfect, and I’m not striving for perfection either. What I do love most about these conscious living journeys is how much closer I get to learning even more about myself and loving myself in the process.
(Top photo… thrifted dress + bag from Crossroads Trading & vintage shoes found on Etsy)
If you are striving for zero waste, please share any tips that you’ve learned below. They will be immensely appreciated!
(Images by Dawn Michelle)