Journey Towards Sustainability
I have been reading a lot of books on trees, nature, buying less, and living simple. I also just finished watching The Handmaids Tale which is set in a future world where America is in the hands of people who think they are saving the country from destruction by returning it to a lifestyle reminiscent of colonial times. Think buying food in bulk with reusable glass containers, chemical free food production, lots of walking instead of driving (unless you are in the social class wielding power), but with a dark twist of oppression and evil. Add to the books and show a conversation I had with friends a few weekends ago and I formulated a new idea for my lifestyle and blog. I will change one habit per week that will reduce waste, improve the environment, and overall become more sustainable.
My journey began with a walk to Exist Green, a zero waste shop on Underwood Avenue here in Omaha. I have been meaning to check the place out since it opened several months ago, but my busy schedule and poor memory have kept me from following through. I read up on how the zero waste shop worked so I knew to bring a few glass containers with me. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with the abundant options ranging from bath essentials to fresh produce. I stopped in for green tea to batch my kombucha, but walked out with some steel cut oats and a small bottle of orange essential oil. As a result of this visit I cut down on a vehicle trip to the grocery store and all the packaging associated with one box of tea bags. Not only did I feel good about the sustainable aspect of the visit, but the prices were reasonable too.
Zero waste shops like this are catching on all over the US. I am lucky to have a shop within walking distance to my house. Litterless has a website with locations in both Lincoln and Omaha that operate in a similar manner. According to the website, you can bring your own containers to HyVee and fill up in their bulk food section. My visit to Exist Green helped me see all the options I have for cutting down on my waste and plastic output. This is important because just recycling, while still good to do, is not enough anymore. China was once the main purchaser of the U.S.’s recycled goods, but a few years ago stopped (for more information I recommend this 99 Percent Invisible episode). With such a large void in companies taking our recycling we need to reduce the amount of waste we make altogether.
While not everyone can agree on the topic of climate change, global warming, or the impact of CO2 emissions, it is hard to refute the fact that we are running out of space to throw our garbage and are polluting our rivers and oceans. The Goodwill is overloaded with donations and running out of warehouse space to put everything we discard after reading Marie Kondo’s Lifesaving Magic of Tidying Up. There is a zone called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the ocean filled with material that never disintegrates, but just breaks into smaller pieces. So whether or not the predictions about when the earth will reach its breaking point are accurate, we need to start thinking about our waste and consumption habits today. The evidence is irrefutable. We are leaving a negative mark on the world for our kids and and their kids and so on.
I thought I was a fairly sustainable person. I recycle and started using the orange energy bag when I moved to Omaha, but I could be doing so much more. So as I mentioned before, I am making one change per week that brings my household closer to a sustainable zero waste model. I know I will never reach zero waste and I am only one person (two if you count my husband who does not fully know what he is in store for yet), but small changes add up. And I hope this blog inspires others to follow through with their own small changes.
Zero waste and sustainability are broad topics and therefore my posts will be too. Expect to read about my experiences and their tie to a larger sustainable movement related to rain gardens, permagardening, canning foods, compost bins, natural deodorants, plastic razors, soap, plastic bags, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and much more. I look forward to comments and feedback along the way.