Have you ever woken up one day and thought to yourself, “Wow, how did I get here? I love it!”
One day I woke up and sat down to a breakfast of homemade bread using flour from a local mill, yeast I brought package free, topped with WA butter and my own marmalade made from oranges grown just down the road that were offered for free.
And that was just breakfast.
I should explain why that was such a big deal to me…
For years I have wanted to be someone who lives sustainably, healthily and also got to enjoy life. I recycled most of the time, I brought and ate lots of vegetables, we have a rain water tank. But I was forever dreading taking out our overflowing smelly bin. We cooked using packet mixes and jars of sauces, lots of canned foods and frozen vegetables. I had a garden of sorts but didn’t really spend much time there. I drank diet soft drinks and went to the gym but struggled with my weight anyway. We used a lot of disposable stuff and our house was full of things that took up space but rarely got used. I was considering getting more storage. I assumed that the food I was eating was good for me, because that is what the advertising said. I assumed that you had to buy everything in plastic, because that’s all I saw on offer. I assumed that doing what everyone else was doing was the right thing, because if I recycled then that made up for all the other things that I did that weren’t such a good idea. I assumed that living this way would make me happy, otherwise why would everyone be doing it?
And then I saw something.
It was just a little thing really.
My cousin posted on Facebook that her family were going to eat local for a month.
Just a month.
I thought myself, that’s an interesting thing to do. And then I read a little on local eating. And I read a little more on how some of our food is produced. And I read a little more on what it takes to get my processed dinner from imported ingredients all the way to my plate. And I thought to myself, well that doesn’t seem quite right. So I started looking at the food I was eating and slowly started researching what options I had. I made small changes until those small changes seemed to gain their own momentum. I took the challenge for a month, enjoyed my food, got excited about gathering my groceries, and got healthier in the meantime because it is easier and cheaper to make your own from local than to try and find locally processed and packaged food.
Once you get started, it is hard to go back.
I was learning more and more about my food, out of curiosity and excitement at my finds, creations and the skills I was developing. And then I stumbled across Plastic Free July. Wow, that really dealt me a blow! Becoming aware of how disposable our lives have become was a shocker! To be honest, it was daunting and a bit depressing. I learnt things that whilst I don’t want to forget, I sometimes wished I didn’t know. Mainly though I was thinking “How the heck am I going to do anything about this one!” But I took the challenge, I didn’t go for everything, just the big four – disposable cups, water bottles, straws and bags. I remembered my reusable shopping bags, I said ‘No’ to straws, I took my own travel mug and reused my stainless steel water bottle. I watched documentaries, I read blogs and I found ‘Zero Waste Home’. I would encourage every single person to read this blog or book. In the beginning, I’ll admit I thought to myself “Is this chick for real!!” They said ‘No’ to so many things and her house is really, really, really sparse. I mean, seriously people, not even a photo frame. But you start getting to the crux of the story behind it and I could see myself finding a better way of doing things. What if I did stop with the disposables and just had reusables? What if I did stop buying things that I don’t really need? What if I only had one set of dinnerware? Did having more really make my life better?
And so I started living in a way that actually was authentic. Those things that I valued – sustainability, health and enjoyment of life – were now more possible. Less stuff meant easier cleaning, more space and less feeling overwhelmed in my own home. Reusable containers, produce bags and shopping bags meant that I could feel better about my contribution to the next generation, created less waste, saved time and got me supporting local and independent businesses. I get to live hands-on.
Fortunately, I have the support of friends and family who might not live this way themselves but are open to the idea. They try to use less disposables when I’m around, tell me how they cooked something from scratch or get excited about a new local option that would be right up my alley. Whether they want to believe it or not I’ve seen the seed of change in them too, but we all find our own path and pace with these things. Sometimes we get lucky and find someone who gets what we are on about almost completely – and that’s when ideas like opening Wasteless Pantry are born. My dear friend Jeannie read the ‘Zero Waste Home’ book I leant her and was struck by the idea of living waste free too. We tried using the bulk stores available, however local options that met the mark seem to be lacking. So here we are!