Zero waste is a practice

Is a fear of failure stopping you from adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle? The solution could be to think of Zero Waste as a daily practice rather than an outcome.

Why start a practice? To improve. To develop a good habit. 

And yet many of us will not start something out of an irrational fear of not being good at it – even if we’ve never tried before and should have no reason to believe we have a special talent for it. Known by another name as Fear of Failure.

Only in the last few years have I embraced the idea of failing as a tool for learning. I wasn’t in a growth mindset before, so I would rarely attempt something unless the outcome seemed achievable.

I’m a little kinder on myself now. I liken my Zero Waste practice to yoga. Nobody should expect to do a handstand on their first day (or maybe ever). I have never done a handstand during my yoga practice, and I have never produced no waste during my Zero Waste practice.

It’s not the handstand that is the most important anyway, it’s all the actions, intentions, and reflection that lead to one, and that make the inversion physically and mentally possible – it’s the practice.

Everyday actions to reduce waste are the asanas of a Zero Waste practice.

The cumulative effect of these asanas is that I’m better able to reflect, respond and react in more productive ways to the challenges of living in a wasteful world. It helps avoid impulse purchases. It also reduces my waste hugely, even if not to a complete zero.

More important than the optics is for me to get better at graciously refusing things I don’t want or need, or offer only marginal benefits, plus anything with too much or un-recyclable packaging. I get better by practising what I believe. I aspire to be satisfied with the things I already have more than I am enticed by those things I don’t. The only way to do this is to turn belief into an action.

If you find an expectation of what Zero Waste living should look like is actually preventing you from getting started, don’t. Using a mason jar to store your trash is one outcome, but not the entire point. We can only start from wherever we are. Your practice may start with a single swap of a single use shopping bag for a reusable.  Who knows where it may lead you.


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