April 07, 2011

Once upon a bumpy road

This is post is about a comment that Jessica posted this week on "Six Month Tally", which I thought worthy of highlighting in a blog post. My response to Jessica, follows.

I really appreciate your blog and am thinking of ways to improve our consumption and waste in our home.
One frustration I have while reading your accounts is the judgment you bestow onto others, such as:
"For now, I blame the ignorant adults who buy and feed harmful and wasteful junk not only to their children but also to others."
Perhaps a bit of compassion and understanding for those unlike you could help people hear your true message more clearly.
I thank you for your blog and your great, great tips. I appreciate your openness for comments.
Jessica "

"Thank you so much for your comment Jessica:

I could not agree with you more. That sentence is harsh and uncompassionate... Afterall, I was one of those "ignorant" adults myself, not so long ago...

I particularly appreciate your comment, because it points out to the frustration phase that I went thru back then. For me, it seems that Six Month Tally was written decades ago on my Zero Waste path (although I wrote it only 10 months ago). I do not condone my mean comment, but one has to understand that a road leading to Zero Waste is bumpy.

When I look back, I can see that we went thru the following 6 phases (with the time that it took me to graduate from each phase):

Step 1 - Denial (33 years): One can only identify the denial phase once step 2 has been completed. I belonged in this category when stuffing Safeway plastic bags into my kitchen trash can, itself lined with a refuse bag, which I would then proceed to throw "away" into the larger city can... Silly isn't it? Well, it all seemed normal to me back then. I was in denial, as if brain dead, with no thought put into the consequences of my actions.

Step 2 - Realization of the facts (on-going): Thru educating ourselves on environmental issues, and watching simple kid friendly documentaries such as Earth and Home, the light bulb switched on. Oh my gosh! I can't believe what is happening! (if there was a green welcoming committee, I would have been greeted at this point)... Once the light-bulb has turned on, one of two things can happen: Eco-depression followed by action paralysis OR motivation followed by action. I chose the latter path, which took me to step 3.

Step 3 - Action boost and trial (2 years): I need to do something! and fast! Deciding to do something about those environmental issues if not for myself at least for the future of my kids, meant doing a little research and jumping on the learning wagon. It started with the reusable water bottle, shopping totes, and bulk shopping. Since I could not find websites addressing my further waste concerns, I resorted on creativity and Googled my way thru finding the alternatives that I now share with you. During that phase I even tested the extremes, such as no poo, making cheese, butter, soy milk, bread, ice cream, olives, soap, paper, candles, dishwasher detergent, etc...

Step 4 - Loneliness and frustration (1 year): This step is very much linked to how much support one receives. Embarking on the Zero Waste road gets eased by the support of a friend or this blog's community. I found that having to constantly explain myself to my surroundings, haters, and compulsive recyclers made me feel singled out, while my efforts lead me to notice the inaction of others. That was 9 months ago, when I wrote Six Month Tally...

Step 5 - Balance (6 months): My summer break in France last year allowed me to step back, look at my life from a different perspective, and enjoy life away from the computer and the Googled searches. Upon my return back home, I decided to slow down writing about Zero Waste, as I simply wanted to live it, without having to talk about it. It helped me let go of frustrations, accept criticism and find comfort in Zero Waste by simply living it and not worrying about others' inaction or judgement.

Step 6 - Auto-pilot (current): The subject of an upcoming article: That's where we are today. We are completely at peace with our lifestyle. We realize that the road was bumpy along the way, we can now see clearly all the positive effects of Zero Waste on our lifestyle. We have a system that works for us, we have let go of some unrealistic tasks that did not work for us, without compromising our trash level (for example, why make cheese, when I can buy it in the jar?). Our system is simple, we can stick to it, we're in it for good.

Thanks for keeping me honest, Jessica. "

Where are you, readers, on your Zero Waste experience?