I was listening to a talk with the author of a book called The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, Jen Gale. I found this video at the right time. When I was in the right mindset. This post is about my take on what she said and how I am implementing my next imperfect sustainable step. If you are interested in listening to it yourself the video can be found at https://www.open.edu/openlearn/nature-environment/being-sustainableish .
In the talk, Jen discusses the need for us to do something to help or at least stop hurting the environment. That we don’t need to be perfect environmentalists but imperfect ones. Now this isn’t the first place I have heard or read this sentiment but it does come at a time I feel ready to hear it again.
She warns about becoming overwhelmed and getting frozen into inaction because you don’t know where to start or feel like you can’t do enough. This is a problem I often find myself in. It all seems a bit too much. I feel too small to do enough to make a difference. I get fatigued trying to do everything to the point that I eventually do nothing. I have been in this do nothing place for several months and I don’t like this place.
Jen’s message is to do something no matter how small. Sort of like the way Dave Ramsey talks about paying off your debts starting with the smallest and getting rid of them one at a time in a debt snowball. We need our sustainable snowball and it might look different in every household and maybe for each person. So what might be my next step be?
Right now I am stressed by my rubbish and recycling. Where I am living I have a smallish wheelie bin each that is emptied every two weeks for rubbish and the other recycling. In addition we have food waste and glass but these I don’t completely fill and struggle to not overfill. Yesterday our recycling went out and the bin was so full we couldn’t put the last indoor bin into the wheelie bin and rubbish is often the same. So my small sustainability debt is to reduce my waste enough to not overflow the bins.
The question for me is how. I have to look at my waste and think about what is taking up the most space so I can find ways of cutting back. I know a big issue in my recycling is plastic.
I have an addiction to Dr Pepper. Yes, that chemical shitstorm that does nothing to nourish me in any way. I usually get it in plastic bottles because it is cheaper that way but plastic can’t recycle indefinitely and never really goes away. It is also bulky in the bin. There are many other plastic items in there because so much is wrapped in plastic at the store but those bottles are my first stop.
I would love to just switch to water but I have tried that and failed dozens of times since I was a teenager. They say that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. I am choosing to stop trying to stop and look at a plan b.
Right now I am trying to switch to cans. Cans can be recycled forever until plastic so I am hoping that means it is a better choice. In addition to its ability to be recycled the cans also are less bulky (I have a can crusher) and can fit down the nooks and crannies of the bin so take up less space I hope.
The big questions I am not sure of are : Are the cans, in fact, better for the environment? Will this in fact reduce my recycling waste enough to not overflow the bin? And how to get the cans without them wrapped in plastic (in the U.K. supermarkets only coke tends to be in cardboard cases)? I don’t have these answers yet but will keep reading. If you have the answers please let me know.
Is this one thing enough to solve my immediate overflow problem? No! Partially because I need to deal with both rubbish and recycling bins and that only deals with one but it is a start. I will need to take note of what else is in the bins and research what I can do.
Is reducing my waste to merely not overflowing enough to save the world? No, obviously not but it is one imperfect step forward. It is a start. It is movement. It is action. What will be the next step in your sustainable debt snowball? Let me know in comments and maybe you will inspire me too.