When you start making changes in your home to move toward being waste free sometimes you will just have to say, “I’m not going to make you give up toilet paper.”
So how do you make radical changes to your family’s home and lifestyle? This is what I am trying.
Be the change
How often have you seen the phrase “Be the change”? It is on t-shirts, bumper stickers and probably every tchotchke known to man. It is one of those sayings that has become so overused that I don’t even focus on what it means. But I have seen it work before, so I am being the change in my house. It doesn’t mean that my family is unsupportive, it means I have to remember that I am making changes that effect everyone in this house. So I clean out my closet, use a re-usable water bottle, stop picking up freebies I don’t need and will inevitably break. I am trying to set an example, we will see where it leads.
Radical change all at once is most often a recipe for disaster. Imagine coming home from work or school and your favorite snack is gone. You sit down to do your homework but the only pen is a fountain pen. Your toys are gone, your paper towels have disappeared, and when it is finally bedtime you find a box of baking soda where your fruit flavored toothpaste used to be. Start small and move slowly. Make changes that aren’t too obvious. Turn off lights, fill a pitcher with water and stick it in the fridge, was the clothes on cold, and slowly move on to other areas of the house.
Get them involved
Want to stop buying prepackaged cookies, granola bars, or snacks? Let your kids help in the kitchen making things from scratch. Flip through a recipe book and pick a meal with your spouse. Let your kids pick a fruit or vegetable at the grocery store or farmer’s market or put them in charge of weighing the produce. Have your kids make useful things like beeswax candles or a potholder that will be lovely and actually get used instead something that is purely decorative.
Making mistakes is the only way to know you are really trying. Right now I am freezing a loaf of bread wrapped in two tea towels. Maybe the bread will taste like freezer, maybe it will be fine, or maybe it will only be good for breadcrumbs. The point is I am trying something that has the potential to reduce waste and if it works, all the better. If the bread is only good for whizzing into casserole-topping breadcrumbs, well, at least I know I’m trying. On to the next loaf.
Don’t be afraid to go it alone
Your family not interested in cloth handkerchiefs, homemade toothpaste, or walking to the grocery store instead of driving? No way are they giving up their plastic sandwich bags or Oreo cookies? Don’t be afraid to go it alone. Do your own thing. Maybe the change will come and maybe it won’t. The important thing is that you will be lessening your impact on the Earth, and isn’t that the whole point? Don’t let waste free be a point of friction in your relationships. Respect each other’s comfort zones and move on. You never know, maybe your partner or child will be comfortable making a change you aren’t.