Having moved our family to 'car-free' status and switching to veganism, there was one last challenge to master on the home front: PLASTIC.
This is perhaps the most difficult challenge yet, simply because we are literally surrounded by plastic everyday and even our most basic needs are either made of it, or covered in it when we buy them.
This is an incredibly pressing issue, right up there with Climate Change. All of these abhorrent excesses in our society are linked, but it seems to me that we have CO2 and Methane [animal agriculture] emissions on one battle front and plastics killing the oceans and waterways on another front. Here is just one documentary about this issue:
It's enough to make a person weep with despair. How has it come to this? Every single decision each and every one of us makes every single day. But it is hard; we live in a system of consumption that makes it terribly hard to make better choices. Yet once you are aware of the problem, you have to start to change your habits. I don't know about you, but I resent the fact that I seem to have so little control over the plastic that my family uses and discards. I try really hard to choose products wisely, and then life gets busy, and all my resolve flies out the window and we back to unconsciously buying convenience products.
Enter Bea Johnson and her Zero Waste Home.
I came across one of her Ted Talks on YouTube, and what a revelation. She did it! She found ways to reduce her family's waste to one mason jar's worth of plastic waste A YEAR! For a family of four, plus a dog! Here is one of her talks:
In 2016 - 2017, I took this challenge seriously and omigosh, is was doable! We weren't down to Bea-level zero waste, but we cut down our waste so dramatically that we were down to a grocery bag full each week only. That was with seven people! And we still could go much further. Then our ceiling caved in [long story], I lost the will to live in our small rented house and we had to move to a new place that better suited our family-- all in the heat of summer, the hardest part of the year for my cold-loving self. It took a lot of work moving and we threw out a sickening amount of stuff in our quest to simplify. I hadn't realized how much crap we had packed into that tiny house. I was so ashamed as we threw out years worth of nonsense stuff, and so much of it plastic. It was time for a big shift in thinking.
But life happened and the move was arduous and we were short on time and energy most days. I didn't have a composter in this new place yet, and we quickly slipped back into our old habits. I lost my focus and we were back to producing garbage like champs again. Sigh.
So this is my commitment to get back on the path towards zero waste. Here is a link I'm going to be visiting a lot, and maybe you would like to check it out too:
There is no other option when you know the facts; it compels us to act. It may seem like 'one small step for man' when your efforts seem puny in the face of so much destruction, but this is where it starts. Environmental activism must begin at home in order to give credibility and authenticity as we move into the public sphere, and I believe Bea Johnson is the living embodiment of how powerful such a commitment can be.