Recently I heard about a woman named Lauren Singer (watch the video), who recycles everything and produces only about one Mason jar worth of trash every year. I found it a little hard to believe and then I thought that it was probably possible for a single person to achieve, but never for a family. Then, I stumbled on Zero Waste Home, a family producing a quart-sized jar of trash each year (and they have kept it up for years already). At first, I admit I was skeptical. I do try to reduce the waste I feel is forced on me when I purchase items (swapping my own reusable produce bags instead of plastic bags at grocery stores, or using my own cup for coffee at the coffee shop instead of the ‘throw-aways’, for example). But, zero waste?
I may not be able to achieve zero waste, as Lauren Singer and Bea Johnson (and her family) do, but I realize I can make more of an effort. Really, that is part of why I started Positively Grounded. I want to help anyone else interested in living a more sustainable, planet-friendly lifestyle to become educated about the different ways to achieve that. Part of that sustainable practice isn’t just about earth-friendliness, it is about each of us finding a balance and making it sustainable for us (and our families). Similar to fitness, trying to do everything at once will only do harm in the long run. You may see immediate results, but often you’ll fall back on old habits and find yourself back where you started, or worse. It’s the gradual habit changes and mental shifts that lead you to your goals. That goes for sustainable living, too. Start small, lay a strong foundation, and build on that slowly. Try simple actions such as bringing cloth bags when shopping, refilling a reusable water bottle to quench your thirst throughout the day, or packing your lunch in glass containers (mason jars are great for soup)! Most of all, if you think one jar of trash is unrealistic or extreme, that is okay. It’s really much more about taking action. If you find something is not the right fit, then ditch it. You will find plenty of things that are so easy to do that you won’t even think about them after a while. As Grace Marshall says, “Extraordinary results come from taking ordinary steps every day in the right direction. Baby steps move mountains.”