Over the past few months I’ve read hundreds of articles on how to reduce my negative environmental impact and live a more sustainable and mindful lifestyle. Many of the writers and bloggers promoting a greener lifestyle use the word ‘zero-waste’ …a lot! I’ll be honest, as soon as I would see this word in a blog’s title, a part of me wanted to give up straight away from reading it and the idea of changing my lifestyle, much less writing about it! Zero-waste? Is such a thing even possible? Can we actually live without making any waste or harmful impact at all? Hats off to those who can and are entirely committed to this challenging, yet rewarding lifestyle.
For the rest of us, the slightly lazier ones, the ones with busy schedules, perhaps living in places where zero-waste can sometimes feel like a very demanding and daunting way of living, please keep on reading. I’ve come up with an idea to help us ease our way into this movement and do the best we can to support it.
First thing first, let’s be real. If you live in a city, work 9 to 5 (or even later!), chances are, going zero-waste will not be your priority. It requires time, dedication and a complete lifestyle change. Hence why I named this challenge “The Low-Impact Living Challenge”. Much better, right? Low-impact sounds a bit less intimidating, and a bit more… doable.
Next, let’s not overwhelm ourselves with too much information about what’s the best way to go low-impact. We are all different and we all have our own way of doing things. It’s important to remember that this is a process, not an overnight change. I seemed to have forgotten this many times, and would often find myself feeling guilty and frustrated for not doing enough.
Last, but not least, let’s take the challenge day by day, and focus on the little victories rather than what we did wrong and what we could have done instead.
Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s dive into the challenge and the first three steps we can take today towards a low-impact life.
Step 1: Say no to plastic straws
As easy as it sounds, this has been by far the most difficult first step for me, especially now that summer’s finally here and I tend to go out for drinks a bit more often than usual. Luckily, I do like wine, and rosé is a big thing in Geneva over the summer, so I’ll just stick to that and avoid cocktails… unless I have my reusable straw with me… Hello, Aperol Spritz!
Alcohol Jokes on the side, this is a simple enough step if you want to prevent single use plastic such as straws. And if you really fancy that Aperol Spritz, and you forgot to ask for no straw, don’t beat yourself about it. It takes a while to build a habit. You’ll remember it next time.
Step 2: BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag
160’000 plastic bags are being used every second! How horrible is that? Make it a habit of always carrying a bag with you, or leave one in your entrance hall, so you won’t forget it as you’ ll always see it on your way to work or the shops. Why pay extra 10 cents every time you go shopping just for a bag you’ll end up throwing away? Invest in a nice reusable shopping bag, a tote, or even a trolley (all the cool kids have them these days), and you’ll never have to buy a single-use bag in your life. And for the days you do have to get one, always opt for paper instead of plastic, and don’t forget to reuse, then recycle. For me personally, this has been the easiest step towards a more mindful lifestyle. It really becomes a habit once you start making an effort.
Step 3: Get yourself a reusable bottle
Another easy one if you live in a place where tap water is safe to drink. I absolutely love my reusable bottle and can’t imagine leaving home without it. I got a small one so it can easily fit in my work bag or in my gym bag, without it being too heavy. Refill when thirsty and you’re ready to go! The best thing about reusable bottles, apart from their eco-friendliness, is the fact they come in many different designs and styles, and they keep your water nice and fresh at the same time. Once you get used to them, you’ ll never buy bottled water again! If you don’t live in a place where tap water is safe to drink, this step might be a bit more complicated and unfortunately I can’t be much of help there. I did realise how difficult this was while travelling, and I still haven’t been able to find a solution that works for me.
So here they are, my first three steps towards low-impact living. I will keep documenting my progress and I hope to share more about what I’ve learned while embarking on the journey to reduce my impact on our planet and explore social responsibility in its many shapes and forms.
Have you got any tips, ideas or stories to share ? Let me know, I am always happy to chat and exchange information and inspiration.
Cover image by: Alex Loup via Unsplash