A couple weeks ago, No Impact Man asked his readers, “If a friend decided they wanted to do something about the environment, how would you tell him or her to start?”. Coincidentally, just as I decided to post an article about it, he followed up on his own question with a list of 40 things you can do to start your personal path to green. It’s a good read, so check it out.
But it got me thinking. What makes people want to reduce their environmental impact in the first place? What makes them wake up one day and say “you know, I think I can make this change or that change”. From a zero waste perspective, what pushes someone to set a goal of producing less waste, or starting a compost, or recycling 100% of the recyclables in their house? Can you make someone want to be greener?
I’m open to suggestions, and I have one of my own.
I propose that a great way to get inspired is to spend a weekend with someone who is “greener than thou”. Last weekend we did just that.
Grant and I went up to my family cabin along with a few friends. Among them were Miss. M who lives in a sustainable, community living complex that produces virtually zero waste (they even grind their leftover bones into bone meal and treat their own gray water) and Mr. B who lives in a regular complex and admits that his family sometimes throws tin cans in the garbage when they’re rushed for time. Opposite ends of the waste spectrum so to speak.
Sitting in the middle of the spectrum and heading for the green end were Clean Bin representatives Grant and myself.
Miss. M, ever prepared, brought homemade cookies in a reusable container. We shopped together and opted to buy fresh sausages at a local deli instead of at a big super market where meat sits on plastic trays. We used cloth shopping bags. We bought bulk in reused bags. We tried to make group choices so everyone was happy with the food and with the packaging and no one felt pressured. For 6 people, the only true garbage we produced for an entire weekend was a chip bag and a single styrofoam tray (Mr. B had a slip up with some oysters).
The point is this, each of us spent a couple days with someone whose daily lifestyle produces less waste than our own. I suppose the except was Miss. B, but I think even she learned a few things: I know for a fact that she tried my homemade, package-free toothpaste for the first time.
Of course, the point of the weekend had nothing to do with garbage; it was just a getaway with friends. But I think thatthe more people who are on the same page, the more likely you are to be successful and support each other (otherwise it’s just too tempting to buy those individually wrapped breakfast cereal boxes and bags of snacks for the car). So, with the long weekend winding up here in Canada, maybe think about trying to make your next weekend waste free.