A little inspiration… from a hamster and a fish

I just love local Perth artist Little Sketchy - meet Hammy the Hamster.
I just love local Perth artist Little Sketchy – meet Hammy the Hamster.

Seeing Hammy on his little boat reminded me of a saying that has always inspired me.  I’ve seen many version of this quote and its been attributed to many people, including the Dalai Lama. No matter who said it first and how, it’s just as inspirational.

“Many drops an ocean make”

As much as you might like to, you don’t have to change the world. You don’t have to fix the problem. All you have to do is something. Just a small change. Just be one voice. You are never alone, and with enough voices and people making small changes just like you, we can change the world together. And if not.. well… at least you made a ripple.

Have you seen Finding Nemo? I’m amazed at just how inspirational that movie is. Particularly this scene:

Nemo was just a drop in the ocean, just one fish. But when he rallied others to swim with her, she became an ocean. All the little fish together became as powerful as a shark.

I often find myself muttering a sing-song “Just keep swimming.. Just keep swimming…” That’s really all you need to do. Just make one small step at a time. Try and convince others to make one small step at a time too. Small actions can achieve great things.

There’s quite a lot out there saying that long-term change is best achieved through setting small goals, or through building small habits. Once that new habit becomes second nature, you can add one more little habit to it – it’s called habit stacking. And that’s how you get your ripple.

I’m on a mission to simplify my life and to save the environment (including living a zero-waste life). That’s a pretty big ocean. Here are some my drops; here’s how I keep swimming:

  • Swap a disposable item for a reusable one, one thing at a time – buy a reusable bag, a reusable coffee cup, a reusable water bottle.
  • Say no to buying that item you’re looking; you don’t need it.
  • Choose one thing to declutter.
  • Put away one thing where it belongs.
  • Tidy/organise one space.
  • Ask for one drink to be served without the straw
  • Choose one item from your to do list and do it or ditch it.
  • Fix one thing (and be glad you don’t have to buy a replacement)
  • Remember your reusable bag on this shopping trip.
  • Put the plastic-packaged item you’re holding back on the store shelf and reach for another product with cardboard/glass/recycled packaging instead.
  • Learn to make one thing from scratch.
  • Have one conversation about reducing waste

 

What are your drops in the ocean? Are you taking small steps towards anything big? Have you ever made a ripple? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

 

 

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How I accidentally became a zero waste minimalist

The ideal situation is not to consume.
“That’s the fundamental answer, don’t buy this stuff to begin with. But if you chose to buy, as many do, the best thing is to buy things that you can reuse.”

This article is a great synopsis of my zero waste inspiration.

I first became aware of the problems of consumption and waste when I did a Living Smart course. Of the 8-week course what really cemented itself in my mind was the short video we watched on the first day – The Story of Stuff. I really do think those 20 minutes marked a big change in my life, or at least the way I thought about it.

My great awakening was in 2012 when I discovered Plastic Free July. My supermarket visits changed completely. All of a sudden I saw myself in a sea of plastic, surrounded by ‘trapped’ and inaccessible food. I was overjoyed when, a couple of years later, I found a growers market that sold LOOSE cherry tomatoes!

I immersed myself in inspiring blogs like Treading My Own Path and The Rogue Ginger and started talking with friends about how they avoid waste.

After Plastic Free July came Buy Nothing New Month (October), but I was unprepared and shopped up a storm. At the start of 2013 I was pondering my new year’s resolutions when the guilt of having shopped through October came back to haunt me. I decided to embark on a delayed Buy Nothing New Month. But I’m the kind of person who tends to get carried away with new projects, and soon it became ‘Buy Nothing New Year‘, from February to February.

Buy Nothing New Year was surprisingly easy, but probably because I allowed myself the exception of buying new things for my wedding that year. And when I visited Brisbane, Queensland and found an amazing dress – the last one, and just my size! – I instantly created a new exception: the postcode rule. So with wedding and travel purchases allowed, I made it through Buy Nothing New Year with a changed attitude toward consumption and a new addiction to buying secondhand.

In late 2013 I made my first career change and got a job in waste management. Now, getting people to waste less and recycle more is my full-time job. Ironically, the demands of the job all-too-often push me to sacrifice my values for convenience, especially when it comes to plastic-wrapped, palm-oil laden frozen pizza… but some change is better than no change, right? As I learn to reduce my consumption and waste I also learn to forgive my transgressions.

Now, I’m most of the way through Buy Nothing (at all) Year. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home at a conference. I’m proud to consider myself a loyal shopper at the Wasteless Pantry in the hills of Perth, Western Australia. I never leave home without a reusable shopping bag, fruit and veg bags, a travel cutlery kit, a bamboo straw, a reusable water bottle and usually a reusable coffee cup too (which sometimes doubles as a doggy bag!). I’ve discovered minimalism. I question every purchase and usually decide to go without or borrow instead. I’m on a massive decluttering spree. And I’m considering my options for how I may work less so I might waste less (bye bye frozen pizza!) and live a life closer aligned with my values.

I’m on a journey. It’s such a cliche, but it really is a journey. It takes time to find new inspiration, switch to different products, change your habits and learn new ways of thinking and doing things.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever reach the end of this journey. Probably not… but that doesn’t matter, because I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I’m excited about how far I still have to go.12795299_10154264709819384_5244616622338831609_nPS:
That dress I bought in Brisbane during Buy Nothing New Year survived my massive wardrobe declutter and proudly hangs in my minimalist wardrobe with a dozen other dresses. I love it.