Is it possible to really live a zero waste life?
Simple, sustainable, low-waste living ... at 9 Degrees Celsius
9 Degrees Celsius is the name of a tiny farm in Cherry Gardens, where a small family of three has decided to make a home, and lead a simpler, sustainable, and low waste lifestyle. On just half an acre, the family is trying to raise chickens, grow their own produce, and tread as lightly as possible on the Earth. In order to document their journey, and encourage others to live a more environmentally conscious life too, the family is sharing their experiences, successes, and failures, on their Facebook page and blog @9degreescelsius, and now also here in the Cherry Chatter newsletter.
The following article was first published on a blog called “The Good Life with Amy French”, dated 3rd October 2017. This is part 2 of a two-part article, with part 1 featuring in the previous edition of the Cherry Chatter.
Is it possible to really live a zero waste life? Our experience so far ... (part 2)
Our experience is that without a lot of planning and organisation, it is really hard to reduce or avoid waste. For example, to ensure our daughter has a zero waste school lunch, we have to include her lunches in our weekly meal planning. If we don’t, then we risk relying on the convenience of pre-packaged items, or even resorting to lunch orders. We also have to allow for enough time in the morning to prepare her lunch, which actually includes morning fruit, recess, a drink, and an after-school car snack, as well as lunch itself. It would be far easier to just grab a handful of items from the fridge and pantry, but what sort of messages would we be giving her about food, health, waste, and the environment?
A typical school lunch for our daughter: morning fruit, recess, lunch and a bottle of water.
As any parent knows, it can be difficult to work out what the ‘right thing’ to do is, let alone actually do it. In our daughter’s case, although she cares deeply about the environment and being a responsible human being, she is a ‘tween’ and also cares a lot about friendships, and being part of the group. Her divided loyalties cause her some angst, and as her parents, we try to be flexible where possible. For example, although we’re fairly strict about school lunches, we still allow her to have items like sparkly gel pens, and a crazy collection of soft toys, which she tells us are necessary for her wellbeing... even though a lot of this is just ‘stuff’ and is destined for landfill.
What we hope is that as our daughter grows and matures, that she will develop her own values and beliefs, including a desire to tread lightly on this Earth.
Another challenge we have, is encouraging other family members to get-on-board with our journey toward zero waste.
Shane and I each have different understandings about what simple and sustainable living includes, but generally we are at least both heading in the same direction. In fact, sometimes it’s actually through our disagreements that we find ourselves most creative, and make the most significant progress towards living a zero waste life. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of our extended family. Please don’t misunderstand us, we both have wonderful parents and siblings, but we’re all on our own paths in life, and also all show our love and appreciation of each another in different ways.
For example, we would love to be able to reduce the amount of gifts given and received, and the waste created at Christmas time. However, when we suggested this in the past, it was not well received. We’ve come to accept that we can only control our own actions, and instead should seek to influence others through our actions, rather than by insisting that others do the same as us. In this way, we’re able to maintain positive relationships with those who mean the most to us – which much like our daughter and her wellbeing, we choose to prioritise, even if that means more items heading to landfill in the future.
We may not have achieved zero-waste Christmases
but we have successfully implemented fabric ‘family gift bags’ that we use and reuse at each birthday and Christmas, instead of gift wrap.
So, is it possible to live a truly zero waste life ... the short answer is yes, but do you really want to?
Our view is that rather than commit to a strict zero waste regime right now, it’s probably more useful to embark on your own personal journey towards zero waste living. A journey where you try things out, learn about yourself and those around you, and decide what is right for you. Even if that ultimately means you aren’t able to photograph your life’s waste in a cute little Mason jar, it’s still likely a journey worth taking.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and thanks to the Cherry Chatter for allowing us the space to share our journey.
Bonnie and Shane, from 9 Degrees Celsius.