The Simple Year 5: And so it ends

This is my last post as your Simple Year 5 blogger, and I want to just say again how grateful I am for this opportunity and for all of you — it wasn’t easy to take on a zero waste project and write about the journey three times a week, but it was easy to keep going even when things went wrong or got frustrating because I had this whole cheering section rooting for me to succeed.

The Walker Four at Easter.

Thank you for reading, for your comments, for the good vibes, for everything. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: This community is the best.

I hate goodbyes, so I’m not even going to go there. And anyway, I’ll be around — I’m a longtime reader of this blog who just happened to get to borrow it for a while. I have vague plans of updating some of my posts (recipes, mostly) and will probably not be able to help commenting from time to time this coming year. I’ve also started a new blog, Minimally, where I’ll be posting about minimalism and zero waste. (And coffee and cats, who am I kidding?) So we’ll still see each other is what I’m saying. No need for goodbyes.

I’ve learned so much from my project and, quite frankly, am kind of amazed that we managed to get so far. I really did think living in a small town and having a family would be a problem, but in the end it was fine. My understanding of what zero waste means has also expanded — I can’t get to zero, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get close. And while my choices may or may not inspire companies to make changes, it does effect the Walker Four’s overall trash output, which is something we can control.

Here are the biggest lessons I’m taking away from this year:

That I can totally do this. It’s definitely possible to go low-waste, if not zero. It does take some work — asking if you can fill your jars, figuring out tare, remembering to take your bags and jars, etc. — but it’s do-able. I’ve also been pleased to recently realize that while this took up a lot of mental space for me early on, it’s now habit and therefore takes very little. This is just something I do. I feel a little silly for letting myself get sidetracked for so long before starting the project — I wasted so much time worrying about this unnecessarily.

It’s all about the message. When I first started, I would explain my wish for no packaging / using my jars / whatever by launching into a complicated spiel about trying to be zero waste. A lightbulb moment at the meat counter taught me that it doesn’t have to be that hard — “I’m trying to reduce my trash” is all the explanation necessary. Who doesn’t want to reduce trash? This makes way more sense and is easier to grasp than all of my ramblings up to that point ever.

Speak up. I am not very good at speaking up or asking for things. I like to blend in and not make waves. But I’ve had to ask for a lot this year in order to make headway in the project. I’ve learned that there is no harm in asking for something — even if you get a no. I’ve also learned that in some situations, it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. 😉 I just try to be as clear and kind as possible in my request, and then super grateful when it’s granted. And if it’s not, I go to the next thing.

Zero waste is a state of mind. I’ve mentioned before that attempting to go zero is akin to Mad Eye Moody’s refrain of “Constant vigilance!” For myself — getting into the groove of bringing jars and bags, getting tare before shopping, ferreting out unpackaged options and, when not possible, those with the lesser footprint — and for the family — even if they’re not quite as vigilant as I am, I know that this has rubbed off on them based on their questions and decisions and general observations. We see the world differently now. I think that’s worth something.

Planning ahead doubles the chances of success. Whether it’s shopping for school supplies or getting ready for the holidays or packing a kit for the car, thinking about an event or situation ahead of time and being prepared helps lessen the chances of, shall we say, garbage finding its way in. Not that I am always good about that. Just that when I am, there’s no question that it makes a big difference.

… And I guess that wraps it up.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again. See you later.