How to Not Feel Weird Being Zero WasteMarch 10, 2021 · Aaron Burr
Sometimes it may feel weird to do what’s right.
For years, plastic and paper companies have reveled in the fact that it's normal to use a single use straw, or to take our food home in a single use container; to buy bottled water; or to use a napkin and then throw it away. This is the norm. And while the norm is beginning to certainly change, there is still a dominant force about single use products.
It may feel odd to bring our own straw somewhere, or our own cutlery. It may feel strange to use LastTissue or LastSwab, especially if we haven’t used them before and are worried about what people think. Asking someone to package your food into a reusable container causes just the slightest bit of added friction to the point where it does feel odd to do. But that slightly additional difficulty is mostly because we aren’t used to asking for this, and people also aren’t used to being asked either.
Consistently however, that is beginning to change. Reusable grocery bags and water bottles are great examples of reusable products that are becoming the new normal.
So, should this strange feeling dissuade us from using reusable products in front of others or in public? You probably know the answer, but let’s get into it.
Embrace our differences
Well, we’re all pretty weird...so not being ourselves in order to not seem weird probably doesn’t really make much sense now does it? Just because many other people don’t have (or aren’t acting on) the same values as we are, isn’t a good reason to not act on our values ourselves. And that’s even if we are assuming people all around us are worrying about what we’re doing.
Most people aren’t worrying about what other people are doing. They are doing the same thing as we are: worrying about what they themselves are doing.
And those are the people who we don’t even know. Complete strangers. Those who we do know, those who we care about and who care about us, won’t judge us for living up to our own values. Real friends and loved ones will respect our decisions. Sure, we may be on the receiving end of a couple hippie jokes. But at the end of the day...we are probably motivating those close to us to make similar changes in their own lives as well.
To blend in, or to be happy
We all want to blend in to some extent. But at some point the cost of blending in will become too high. At the end of the day we must be us, for us. Staying true to ourselves is important not only for helping the planet and living more eco friendly lives, but also for our own fulfillment and happiness.
Many of us may not be consciously trying to blend in, but instead we may do things simply because we always have. Or simply because everyone else does the same, without considering our alternatives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we must always avoid doing what everyone else does. Instead, we should remain mindful about why we are doing some things and why we aren’t doing other things. In other words, we should be more intentional. Establishing the why behind the what will help us in our continued direction.
Living a life harming the planet is actually more strange, we are all just used to it
When we think about it, it’s pretty weird of a species to consciously harm the very thing that provides us the resources we need to survive. Not that this article is meant to tell people they are weird or are “the problem.” We are all the problem, or rather our actions are. Typically though, none of us are acting purposely to harm others or the planet. We have been raised up this way, as have our parents and grandparents.
But just as it hasn’t always been this way, it doesn’t have to continue to be. 🕰
Maybe it’s time to embrace the weird, maybe it’s not. That’s up to us as individuals to decide. It’s also up to us to decide how to define our own version of weird. Like everything else, zero waste will look different for different people. We all do things differently. Some people will have all these gadgets to make their zero waste lives easier, while others may feel bogged down by buying a replacement alternative and would prefer just minimizing all together.
Both can be viewed to be equally as “weird.”
But hey, weird is cool. Especially when weird is better for the planet, and possibly more in line with our values. What’s weird, in some cases, is being: normal. That is if, being normal contradicts our values or simply isn’t who we are as individuals.
We have hundreds of opportunities to cast our votes every single day. We can make our stand starting today, just by working on ourselves. We can’t change other people to save the world, but we can change ourselves. And changing comes with taking a risk. It comes with being different, with being the pioneer in our group of friends, or communities.
The risk of standing out is rather minor when we consider the effects of standing up for what we believe in.