I am quite eager to share a lot of information with you on living zero waste, but first, I need you to mull over a few questions. Because you may be plagued by a few preconceived notions about environmentalism if you don’t feel ready for the change.
What entertainment do you surround yourself with?
What pages do you follow?
What books do you read?
What videos do you watch?
What obsessions do you have?
What kind of company do you keep?
What kind of thoughts persist in your mind when it comes to conscious living?
Holistically speaking, What culture are you surrounded by? And don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to change everything you love about yourself.
Every minute of our lives, everything we do is shaping our thoughts, our opinion of the people around us and our actions. Anything we read on green living while having this tinted glass of opinions is going to be pretty useless.
We love believing we control our actions, we only need to resolve and then boom, we can change into a better person. But I have bad news for you, the culture you surround yourself with is what really controls you.
Here’s some more bad news, thanks to selective algorithms that keeps track of the topics you follow in your devices, you wind up in a cultural bubble designed by your search engine that blinds you from seeing other bubbles.
This isn’t brand new information to millennials.
There is a positive side to this too once you recognize the effect of cultural bubbles.
My zero-waste cultural bubble may be completely non-existent to you, leading you to believe that zero waste lifestyle is not for everyone and its unrealistic to live this way. But to me, my bubble tells me that thousands of people are living consciously on their own terms and there is amazing hope for the future! If I dig even deeper into the climate positive rabbit hole and cut people out of my life for not agreeing with me, I may even forget there’s a whole world out there still living climate passive. (Hint: It’s a bad idea to get lost in your bubble for too long)
So, if we figure out that changing a habit is only about living in a bubble, then the only thing left to figure out is how to burst it.
Every time you need to change something about your values. Jump into the rabbit hole that adheres to those values. Follow blogs that talk about it, watch movies, listen to podcasts. Build that conscious bubble that you choose to live in instead of getting trapped in the one that doesn’t help you grow. Are there habits you aren’t proud of? Do you wish you were learning something more productive that actually helps you develop as a person? The change won’t happen over-night, but by breaking out of the bubble, you will have started your journey (the one that seemed so impossible before), which can change you way more than being a silent bystander.
Now that I look back on my journey, This “conditioning phase” went on for almost a year. It took a long time to get triggered; I binged my way down a curious rabbit hole, before it finally hit me I am capable of going zero waste just like the people I feel inspired by. This trigger might come more quickly to people now that sustainable resources have been increasing steadily. And I hope with my page, I speed things up for you.
Conditioning with your cultural surroundings is the best way to develop a mindset – which then turns into action. You cannot set a reminder that tells you how to live a fulfilling life.
When I first decided to go zero waste, after binge watching several videos about it, the resolution still seemed like a mammoth task. Not just because it was a huge lifestyle change, but the information was trickling in really slowly as I was alone in it. Each habit I read about felt like a big effort I had to make. It took me nearly a year of mental conditioning, out of curiosity in conscious lifestyles, to finally get the confidence to start.
So I created a social media page for self-motivation by following people with these values and journal my progress. I had no plans to make this a page for awareness. The first few bloggers I followed were westerners who were flaunting their perfect bulk shopping stores accessible in their neighbourhoods, and sustainable businesses, that sold them package free goods. I thought I was one out of handful of people trying to go zero waste in India and probably would have to figure out all of this alone, so I was making do with whatever common brands I was already buying from a supermarket. If you ever go to a regular supermarket and try to avoid plastic, it is the equivalent of walking into a forest and trying to avoid trees.
I soon followed a few zero waste Indians on Instagram and one of them reached out to me, helping me network with the rest of the community in India. I even found meet-ups in my city. I was a total beginner and this community was filled with people who had been living zero waste for years and some even decades. From rebellious teenagers to patient grandparents, this was a diverse group. Some were entrepreneurs, passionately spreading the green living agenda,through whichever profession they practised and did a great job of it too. It was a little intimidating knowing how little I was doing as a beginner compared to them, but luckily, they were the most supportive and encouraging bunch I had ever come across. “No one here is truly zero-waste” they always admit.
They had varied lifestyles and priorities and yet co-existed perfectly. These groups are constantly helpful even with my silliest doubts and all of us can relate to each other’s experiences. Even today I continue calling it a zero-waste “journey” because it reminds me there is always something more, I can work on. I now make sure I try and go for the zero-waste meet ups, once in few months on a weekend, as often as I can, so I get to keep in touch with that support (and self-induced FOMO*) to motivate me.
Change can seem intimidating, but if you identify the influences that constantly shape your opinion, you can discard what doesn’t matter and get control over your mind.
If you are trying to change a habit but find yourself regressing back repeatedly, take note of your thoughts, social company, entertainment, news/information and the dialogue you surround yourself with. You may be in need for a tailored support group and some much needed self-inquiry.
*Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO, plays a huge role in the way we participate in our society. It is the ingrained herd mentality that plagues us in everything we do, from trying to decide if you really deserve a break with a nice vacation to deciding what to order on the menu at a restaurant. If we don’t have the fear of missing out on a trend, we don’t really bother about it. But every cultural bubble has a different FOMO. Yours may be – I need to go on a fancy vacation and get some really good pictures of food and drinks for social media, whereas my FOMO may be something like- I need to make sure my vacation goes zero waste so I can click some great pictures to show-off my reusables in action to my community. Sounds like a neat simple way to influence a society doesn’t it?
And that’s a reality happening around the world. If there aren’t any people in your life to naturally peer pressure you into conscious living, you will have to reach out to find them.
By manipulating the cultural bubble, you can manipulate this toxic syndrome you are in. Keep in mind, the most difficult thing, is to admit it. It’s really hard to catch. Community approval is a very strong tool in changing behaviour and mind sets, and giving in to this knowledge is key to gaining power over whichever conscious lifestyle you chose to live.
So something as simple as social media pages run by Eco-Bloggers are a great source to cultivate climate optimism in your psyche.
One human alone might sound mad,
A group of people might look like a cult,
But millions of people actively living consciously, makes it feel like the future.
So the next time you feel your mindset isn’t “built” for a conscious lifestyle, just remember that you are already holding the tools of construction.
A tiny peek into what my bubble looks like?
These recommendations will help you free fall into a much needed rabbit hole of inspiration
I follow these pages for knowledge. These are some of my favourites as they helped me in conditioning my thoughts and trigger a change.
And also, I follow some just for the joy of seeing their optimism. It can be infectious.
@mama.eco – Educational and honest with her zero-waste journey
@unenvironment- For world news and progress
@durgeshnandhini – an eco-warrior with a zero-waste family.
@zerowastefarmer – The brush-with-bamboo legend living with her own urban farm.
@zerowastememes – humour you will relate to as a conscious consumer
And a million more pages. I make sure not to follow any page that instigates negativity and hateful judgement. Feel free to explore as per your preferences.
(none of the below have an environmental agenda, but they will help you in questioning the way we live as humans)
Sapiens: A Brief history of human kind- Yuval Noah Harrari
Zero waste home – Bea Johnson
Everything that remains – Joshua fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
Have you ever gone “Oh my god, I can’t believe I wasted X hours of my life on this senseless junk video”.
Here’s a list of movies/TV/youtube videos more deserving of your time.
Blue Planet II– Originally meant to only document aquatic life.
Matrix (1999)- for some much needed self inquiry.
Tidying up with Marie Kondo– Binge the series on Netflix to learn the art of letting go.
Vox: Climate lab series on Youtube – very educational in quick brief videos.
The Third Industrial Revolution – Optimistic about the current progress for better future.
Zero waste with Bea johnson – the founder of zero waste movement.
The True Cost on Netflix- the madness of fast fashion industry.
Game of thrones– Because why not.
If you find yourself passionately striving to live zero-waste for a decent amount of time, you might find joining a group network for ease of access to information from veterans. Getting some help saves you from time spent on researching tips and alternative products.
Out and about:
Since I don’t have many friends or family who live eco-consciously, except a few who have made noticeable changes, I look out for posts about awareness events, meet-ups, talks and swapping events to get that feeling of community.
I also attend any flea-market that is centred around sustainability or eco-friendly lifestyle themes. Shopping is fun when you interact with the owners to discover their motivations. These events congregate conscious consumers from around the city and you begin to actually get a feel of how big the community may be. It’s also a great way to learn what demographic of people are missing from the community and why.
In addition to that, you can even resolve to begin volunteering as much as possible to help you keep in touch with what are we missing in our communication for behaviour change. Learning to live gracefully by your values with the people around you, makes the biggest impact.