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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Low Waste Eco-Friendly Transitioning Tips: Breaking Habits



Hi folks! A few weeks ago over on Twitter I asked if you all wanted some in-depth tips and advice for transitioning to a more eco-friendly or low waste lifestyle so, here we are! I've tried to break this down into categories because changing to a more sustainable way of living can't just be done overnight and a complete overhaul is unrealistic. Before I get into each category which you can minimise or switch-up, I want to talk about what I think is the most important part of transitioning: changing your mindset and breaking habits.

We are all exposed to a convenience culture lifestyle from a young age and it means that we have a lot of unlearning to do to make more eco-friendly, low waste, or sustainable choices. Changing these habits that we've always taken part in without much questioning can be quite hard but it is doable *if* you have the right attitude from the start and want to actively challenge and tackle your usual choices in life. Breaking the habits we have in place helps us approach new things with fresh eyes and helps us feel motivated, driven and frankly, excited! So here's some easy ways to get ready for a low waste lifestyle and how to make small changes that you'll be surprised will make a big impact:



Self auditing your current lifestyle:
It's easy to say "I want to become more *insert sustainable-related wording here*" but the actual overhaul can feel stressful and finding a starting point can be difficult. The best thing to do (in my opinion) is to have a clear idea of where you currently are, what you want to progress towards, and what you think the bumps in the road will be for you. Creating lists aren't for everyone, but I find them very visually helpful and in this instance, they can make it obvious what you need to change and even better - what you may already be doing that you didn't even realise! The three categories I use are:
- What I'm already doing
- What I want to improve
- My biggest struggles or setbacks

This list doesn't need to be completed before you start making changes - it can be a working list that you can add to as you go along. For instance, when I started to buy less fast fashion, my "what I want to improve" was simply "buy less/eventually no fast fashion" but one of "my biggest struggles/setbacks" turned out to be trying to minimise how much time I spent online browsing fast fashion and how much I relied on it for "emergencies" (e.g. a wedding guest dress, new jeans because a current pair ripped etc.). By being able to identify those struggles, I could then set myself smaller improvement goals that were more attainable and could be developed to eventually meet the overall big goal I had originally set. Holding yourself accountable and giving yourself goals to stick to can make transitioning *so* much easier - especially when you can highlight things that you're already doing that supports the lifestyle changes you want to make (for example I realised I was already recycling, buying fresh produce locally and with minimal plastic packaging).

Consider what you really need to change:
Okay so I know I just mentioned "what I want to improve" in that self audit, but it's important to not jump in blindly and do what everyone else tells you to - that's including whatever advice I share! A good example of this is the fact that so many people when transitioning buy things like bamboo or stainless steel straws or portable cutlery sets but if you never really needed the non-eco-friendly versions of these things before the lifestyle change, do you really need them now? It doesn't matter if you have blips in your journey where you regret purchasing something because it's all going to be a learning curve, but if you know you can avoid some items/changes right at the start that aren't necessary for your specific day-to-day life, it prevents you from just purchasing lots of products you won't use. If you do this, you're not really supporting that sustainable lifestyle because you're just swapping out one type of over-consuming for another.



Don't just overhaul your life:
So my next point kind of carries on from that. Completely overhauling your life is impossible and the only people who could do it is those with money to burn - you might see where I'm going with this. Don't just throw things away because they don't fit with an eco-friendly ideal you've created for yourself or an "aesthetic" as that's way more wasteful than it is productive. Of course there are going to be products you may want to invest in as previously mentioned, but if you already have things like plastic tupperware, reuseable bags (even if they're just the plastic ones from the supermarket) etc., throwing these things out or donating them is potentially just creating more waste. They might not be ideal and might not be eco-friendly in the sense of what material they're made from, but they still serve the purpose you need them for and if they're not broken/ruined/contaminated and therefore absolutely safe and friendly to use, just use them! A major part of transitioning to a low waste life is meeting this consumer need head-on and battling through it.

It's not just your responsibility:
One of the biggest differences I noticed in the success of my approach to leading a more eco-friendly and sustainable life was when I realised I couldn't be perfect. I honestly truly struggled with this initially as I can be a bit of a perfectionist and a control freak so if I'm not doing something *amazingly well*, I don't want to do it at all. But, as I've just mentioned, you can't overhaul your life and it's certainly not sustainable to keep it up if you first manage to (maybe the pun was intended?). I love seeing those Instagram posts floating around that say:
"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly"
Every change you make is a good and positive change that is making a positive impact - no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is. If you want to truly create a this journey for yourself, make sure the rest of the world knows about it too! Tell family and friends, find groups online, following motivating accounts, groups, pages etc. that will help you keep on track but that might also give you ideas on how to get others involved with changing their mindsets too. It also helps for things like Christmas and birthdays as friends and family could maybe buy those reusable items you've been lusting after or can make sure that their gift wrap is environmentally friendly and recyclable. Spread the message and together the impact is stronger.



Follow the Eight R's:
Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, re-gift, recover, and rethink. They may be obvious but for the longest time, I only really knew about the 3 "main" ones (reduce, reuse, recycle). Having the 8 R's as a mantra to always refer back to can help you keep on track when out shopping or even the choices you make in your home. Refusing can be as simple as not using a plastic straw in a bar or restaurant and refusing to consume what you don't need, reducing could be your meat intake in your weekly meals and just generally reducing your consumption of energy and materials, reusing could be investing in reusable products such as a coffee cup or water bottle and sharing with others, repairing could be learning how to do a simple stitch to fix that hole in a pair of trousers that you used to love to wear, and recycling could be as simple as checking your local council website to know exactly what items they accept in their recycling scheme and how best to recycle items they may not take (for example glass bins at supermarkets). These first 5 tend to be the most commonly followed pointers, but re-gifting by sharing items that no longer serve a purpose or your interests, recovering by upcycling and giving items new lives, and generally rethinking your relationship with 'things' and your relationship with the earth can be the added extras to really keep you on track. Keeping these 8 rules in mind can make your self auditing easier to manage too and gives you more accountability.


Hopefully these few points will be helpful for getting you out of the starting blocks on your journey to creating and consuming less waste and being more mindful of the environment. We only have one earth so, let's all do our bit to keep it green, happy, healthy, and turning. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts in this mini-series to help with things such as technology, groceries, at home and more!


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