Recently, “zero waste” has permeated my Instagram hashtags, library-book check-outs, and Netflix documentary searches. The movement fascinates me, and inspires me to live with less in a world that is driven by “more.”
My interest in living with greater awareness came two springs ago from a unit I taught to 7th graders on Food Waste. The inspiration for that unit came from the March 2016 issue of National Geographic, and it opened a new world to me. It highlighted waste that I was guilty of creating. Moreover, it highlighted a fundamental truth that I and many others had been ignoring: I had removed myself from one of the most basic necessities—food.
Even though I grew up with a liberal mindset, environmental habits, and love of nature, I had neglected this simple practice: growing and eating my own food. The more I learned, the more sense it made to me for people to have little gardens. Free food! Why wasn’t everybody doing this?
National Geographic’s article eventually led to the creation of my happy place: a modest (and clueless) garden. A pastime—adventure really—that I had grown up loathing for unexplainable reasons. It also led me, a year later, to the local co-op, which I had also despised as a child, thinking it was where the dirty hippies shopped and that it smelled too much like unfamiliar spices when you walked in.
There is so much to write about this, and even in my humble beginnings over the past year, there have been many facets. I’m a gardener and a member of the co-op now, and when I walk to the store, the glass jars I plan to fill with bulk goods clink in my bag behind me the whole way.
I want less plastic in my life. I want less plastic in the ocean. What do I want more of? I want more of less.
Things I do differently now:
- Plant things in the ground and water them
- Bring my own containers to functions and stores when I know I’m going to want to put stuff in them.
- Take five minutes to plan
- Don’t buy if I’m not prepared
- Remember it’s one step at a time
- Teach my students about sustainability
- Research and read and hashtag
- Slow down
- Reflect on how I want to live my life