One year ago on January 1st, 2015 I first started my zero-waste challenge. When I thought of the #onejarchallenge originally, I never imagined how much I would enjoy seeing the changes I could make in my waste production and just what a profound difference it would have on my entire life. I went from your average American producing 4.5 pounds of trash A DAY to only producing 3.13 pounds A YEAR. I’m not bragging when I say that it’s pretty damn awesome – because honestly, it is. Producing less trash has been awesome! And I am happy to say that it has been quite a success!
I have learned so much over my first year in this new lifestyle that I can’t help but share a little bit about it. In the beginning, it was kind of hard to imagine I could ever get my trash to fit inside a quart Mason jar each month. I mean, come on! We produce a LOT of trash. And I was no exception! So I created a “challenge” as a way of allowing myself the freedom to fail. Fortunately for me, by April of 2015, I was able to fit my trash each month into that jar! I had done it!
As soon as people found out about my challenge though, they came up with reasons why I was cheating. It’s not like they directly said that; but a lot of them would say that I was only able to do it because I was living in a dorm room and not cooking. I started to second guess myself and wonder whether I really could continue on out in the “real world”. Well guess what I did when I moved into my own apartment in June? I did exactly the same thing. My trash actually went DOWN. I had more freedom over the products I was buying and became more invested into researching what could be recycled.
Then people started saying – “I could never do that. It must be so hard!”. And honestly, it was hard at first. I had to find a lot of alternatives and that took a lot of work. I had to adapt some of my eating habits to things in recyclable packaging and in some cases, I went through withdrawal like symptoms for foods I had been eating most of my life. I still have yet to find, for example, recyclable chip bags and so about every two weeks, I longingly crave a plate of nachos. So to everyone out there who just needs a push to get started - it doesn't have to be impossible. If I can do it, you can too!
Overall then? My year was a success. Not only did I complete my challenge, but I permanently changed my purchasing habits. I also influenced a variety of people around me to switch up their view on waste as well!
I still believe I can push myself farther in the long run; but for now? I am very happy calling myself a “zero waster” and meaning it!