Refuse and Repurpose: Changing Habits One at a Time

Here we are, halfway through the year and six months sinceI began focusing on going zero waste, or attempting to. If you remember, I mentioned in my previous entry how I prefer to call my New Year resolutions intentions rather than resolutions. Well, I have found that attempting to produce zero waste, or a less plastic lifestyle, really becomes an intention and an act of accountability. One needs to approach zero waste with serious intention and be willing to make the subtle changes in lifestyle necessary to make it a habit. It is not effective to declare that you reject single use plastics and then order take-out with your plastic container, fork, knife and cup.

Back in April, Food Conspiracy hosted a Zero Waste Workshop with Claire Kaufman from Zerology, and she spoke about how to reach a zero waste lifestyle. Claire gave us pointers on how to begin and maintain this practice. We are all familiar with the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Claire gave us two more Rs: Refuse and Repurpose.

Number one, Refuse. Refuse the plastic bag, the straw, the single use item. Don’t even go there, change your habits and refuse to use. Number two, Repurpose. Find another use for it or have it mended or repaired. I’m already seeing sites on social media outlets that talk about going back to the ways of our grandmothers. Instead of throwing the torn shirt away, have it mended, get as much life out of it as possible. Make a tote bag from those old jeans. This may be way out of the ballpark for some of us, but it helps us to look at things from a different perspective and think about how we can reduce the items we are sending to the landfill. How about a braided bath mat made from that old, ratty-edged bath towel?

Another tip Claire gave us was to begin logging the plastic items we use or purchase daily on our phone or tablet. This forces us to focus on what we’re actually doing and helps us break some of those habits we are unaware of. “Oh my, I used 12 pieces of plastic today. Five produce bags, a coffee cup, etc.” And it goes on and on. We need to refocus and change those habits about which we’ve never given a second thought.

So my recommendation? Be focused and cognisant of what you are doing. If you are really concerned about changing your habits and helping the environment, be intent on changing them one action at a time.

Nick Super