It’s Not About The Jar

By: Leigh Williams

The Zero Waste Lifestyle can seem pretty extreme, right? A year’s worth of trash that can fit in a jar is a lofty goal to say the least, and I think, a frustrating one.

I say “think” because, despite my great passion for zero waste, I haven’t actually tried “the trash jar” yet! It just doesn’t seem realistic to me. I don’t want to dissuade you, so by all means, if you are motivated by a good challenge, do it!  I want to hear all about it, and will be in awe of your accomplishment. But for most of us who live on the grid and operate in the average American town with the typical American family, I just doubt it’s going to happen without a lot of stress, strife, offending of folks, and general “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

But it’s OK! Because it’s not about the jar! And it’s certainly not about perfection.  That’s why we’ve called our journey “Toward Zero Waste.” It’s manageable steps in the right direction. It’s showing folks that there is another way; that you can live quite happily and fully not creating a ton of trash, and still be normal.  But then again, as I learned from one of my heroes, Dave Ramsey, normal is overrated. I mean really, if “normal” is using a plastic fork that was produced with oil, is used for 15 minutes then discarded to sit in a landfill for the rest of time…I’ll take weird.

So yes, while the “trash jar” is the holy grail of the Zero Waste lifestyle, it’s not about the jar. It’s about doing what’s right, being part of the solution, lightening your impact, making a difference, and maybe, just maybe, beginning to change the social norms.

It’s feeling good about the way you live in the world. Why not give it a go?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~Margaret Mead


About the Author:

I’m a wife and mom of two school-aged girls, living in Cary, NC. I started moving “toward zero waste” in September of 2015 after reading Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home. Bea’s single jar of trash a year for a family of four didn’t seem possible for my family of four, but I knew we could do better and was inspired to try.

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