Conscious Living: Our Journey to Zero-waste Living
Published on: April 10, 2019
The idea of converting to a zero-waste lifestyle is daunting and may even feel impossible but, as Angelica is discovering, it can be achieved by taking that first step and can be an enjoyable process.
By Angelica Cosgrove
I saw a YouTube video about someone who managed to fit her year’s worth of rubbish into one jar. To me, it seemed pretty much impossible in the context of the throw-away lifestyle we often live in.
By connecting with other people who share the same concern and by making more conscious decisions, I can feel the momentum of change
When I met my partner Tom, I realized that we couldn’t be more different, yet it was our shared concern for the planet that brought us close. I love how Tom openly shares his compassion towards the planet. He’s the only man I know who cries at watching coral die on TV and he won’t mind me writing this, as, in truth, we should all be crying about it. If you’ve watched Chasing Coral you may well have cried yourself! Since being together we have pushed each other to turn our concern for the planet into actions and to make more conscious decisions to minimize the impact our actions have on Earth.
It can feel quite a lonely and depressing journey meditating on the current environmental crisis. Yet, by connecting with other people who share the same concern and by making more conscious decisions, I can feel the momentum of change that is happening, driven by so many people and their eagerness to cure the world together.
Starting on the path to minimize our waste
Tom and I started to make changes in our life to minimize our waste. Tom’s the water bottle ninja, always ensuring the pram basket is loaded up with enough water for the trip. He’s the one that embraces the laughs at the Thai market when he pulls out his multi-colored reusable bags from the back of his scooter for his fruit and vegetable shopping.
We want her to grow up knowing that her parents did their best to protect the planet that she will continue to live in once we have left.
And me… well I’m cooking up more recipes than celebrity-chef Nigella Lawson, but my oils are used to make body creams instead of burgers. I guard the house against plastic, only buy sustainable toys and more recently, ensure any skin, hair and cleaning products are natural, plant-based and free of toxins.
Going zero-waste and toxin-free come hand in hand and it’s been easy to make the transition together. Needless to say, making products at home reduces packaging significantly.
It’s been in the last month that we have really gained momentum in aligning our lives to our values. We model to our toddler how to make green and conscious choices and guide her to make good choices for the planet too. We want her to grow up knowing that her parents did their best to protect the planet that she will continue to live in once we have left.
This thought has really driven us into a change of mindset and by staying conscious to our thoughts we remain on the right path for change. It’s easy to slip back into old ways and to grab a plastic straw because we forgot to bring our metal one but these are the moments when we decide whether we want our greener choices to become habits and how quickly too.
Changes to our shopping
Changing to zero-waste and toxin-free is exciting. Our shopping list has been cut in half and shopping has become fun, as well as cheaper.
My soaps and other body products come from Bangkok Soap Opera. The owner Maria is lovely and so knowledgeable about her products. The shop’s smell is an added bonus!
This way of shopping makes me feel lighter, happier and never guilty.
I visit the Refill Stations in Bangkok, particularly the one joined to Better Moon cafe. My daughter sits drawing at the table and even helps me with filling up. I love the authenticity of taking my jars, bottles, and tins to the store, filling them up with our weekly snacks and popping them into the wicker basket. I like chatting with the staff about the cleaning products and why they will make our home smell better, our drains cleaner and our lungs healthier.
This way of shopping makes me feel lighter, happier and never guilty. I love the feeling of connection to other people already living their lives with minimal damage to our planet and we’re reminded that we are not alone on this journey. There are many wonderful companies and people out there making a real difference and so many opportunities for us individuals to join in and connect.
An unexpectedly easy, enjoyable, and accessible lifestyle
What has struck me about this lifestyle change is how easy and enjoyable it is, as well as accessible to everybody. Kitchen staples such as olive oil, coconut oil, honey, citrus fruits, vinegar, and baking soda have become my new best friends. I enjoy being creative in the evenings and mixing a few ingredients together. I feel a sense of purpose.
It’s been tempting to discard of everything disposable straight away … but I’ve ensured we’ve used things up and donated the rest before investing in alternatives.
It’s really just been a shift in shopping habits and switching one thing for another. I think half the fun in doing the switch is researching homemade recipes, questioning everything disposable in the house and researching for greener alternatives. I won’t take this away from you.
Finding new uses for what’s already at home
It’s been tempting to discard of everything disposable straight away, to replace them with sparkling new sustainable substitutes but I’ve ensured we’ve used things up and donated the rest before investing in alternatives. I resisted from buying a shiny, new lunch box and instead shopped in our house first; the old biscuit and tea tins I was ready to get rid of work just fine.
Instead of feeling sad when our Marmite has finished, I peel the label off and voila, we have a new glass container, smoothie glass or plant pot. When buying something new we are concerned about the products end life; what will happen to it once it’s served its purpose?
This new way of life has a powerful force behind it that keeps driving us every day to love and protect our planet through our choices. We can keep improving and changing more things. Our bin bags are emptier each day and we question everything. Our environment has become more natural, minimal, open and beautiful. There is so much beauty in simplicity and this new lifestyle.
About the Author
Angelica is a qualified primary teacher with a passion for early years education. Currently taking time off work, Angelica runs around after her toddler, writes children’s stories and reads heaps of books on play-based learning and life-improvements, such as minimalism and sustainable living. Any time in between is spent taking cats off the sois. Instagram: @angelicacosgrove for ideas on how to get started.
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