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Should My Rubbish Fit in a Jam Jar?

Should My Rubbish Fit in a Jam Jar?

The original zero-waste guru's were pictured holding a jar with their month's (years..!) waste in it. That image made it hard to believe we could ever achieve the eco-warriors coveted status of zero waste.

It’s human nature to benchmark in order to gauge your progress. However, as with all things, you need to be careful not to lose sight of your starting point. It is crucial to celebrate your successes!

As many of you will no doubt be aware, once you begin to see the severity of the plastic problem, it’s very hard to ‘un-see’ it. This can light a huge fire beneath us, driving us to reevaluate and question how our purchasing habits are affecting the environment. If only we all knew the can of worms that gets opened once you start walking down this path and turning over stones! 

While a switch to a reusable coffee cup or water bottle can be a relatively easy new habit to adopt, reducing plastic consumption on a weekly big shop can be a whole different ball game. But as the popular saying says:

“We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef.

The BBC One War on Plastic documentary demonstrates brilliantly how households can reduce their everyday waste AND save money.

The elephant in the room when it comes to zero waste living, is that there is an element of elitism present that can undermine the very progress we have set out to make. The problem sometimes faced when met with images of rubbish in a jam jar, is that it can make your efforts to date feel futile – a devastating blow when you have made difficult changes that involve your whole family. 

Do remember, it’s all a matter of perspective. A single twenty-something who only buys clothes from second hand shops and eats out frequently is unlikely to understand how tricky it can be to balance cutting out plastic when caring for kids. They don’t have to deal with the disposal of broken toys, homework projects, weird arts and crafts brought home from school or onboarding a reluctant spouse. Naturally, the twenty-something is likely to find the goal of a jam jar significantly easier than the young family.

That’s not to say it can’t be done but neither should it be the ultimate goal. One of the most valuable secrets to pursuing a life less reliant on plastic, is to set achievable goals you can stick to. Things like putting only one bin bag out for rubbish collection instead of two is a huge achievement that should not be undervalued. A million people reducing their waste to this level is far more valuable than a handful of people pursuing the jam jar goal.

Set your goals. Take photos. Write a blog 😀 Remind yourself regularly how far you have come. Reducing the waste you create is much like any other goal setting - getting fitter, losing weight, making me-time...

So to be clear, your rubbish absolutely does not need to fit into a jar! 💃Remember, progress is not linear. There’s nothing wrong with ‘three steps forward, two steps back’. Reducing our plastic footprint doesn’t have to be done all in one go, and an ‘all or nothing’ approach is unlikely to lead to sustainable change. You need to make it a habit and as that unforgettable phrase says - every little helps!

Keep fighting the good fight and don’t be disillusioned by the dreaded jam jar. Every bit of single-use, landfill-destined piece of waste you divert from your bin, is a huge win...and we thank you! 💚🌍

Natasha Ray
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