As humans, we are extremely influenced by those around us.
It’s in our nature.
When you surround yourself with people who live a healthy lifestyle, or live in a community with a strong focus on being green, it can really rub off on you, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Conversely, it can be difficult to be successful with endeavors like going zero waste, when people around you aren’t as into it.
At times, you might feel like you’re the only one out there who is trying. Or quite honestly, like no one else gives a crap about the Earth, pollution, chemicals in our food, excessive waste, etc.
Over five years ago, I made a drastic change in the way that I ate, due to health problems I was experiencing. I adopted a Paleo style of eating, which entails being gluten-free, dairy-free, low/no grains, and not eating any meat or eggs that aren’t grass-fed/free-range/humanely-raised (no, I’m not vegan–gasp!).
As a result, I felt amazing for the first time in a long time, and most of my health issues either improved or completely went away.
It was, quite honestly, essential to my health and well-being at the time (and to this day).
I was, however, met with a fair amount of criticism for being “picky”, blank stares when I asked if there were gluten free options, and difficulty finding the types of foods I needed to be eating. At the time, most of these concepts were pretty new and totally out of the norm.
Thankfully, I lived in a very progressive city, so I found my people who understood and supported it, and had my co-ops that carried basically everything I needed to buy to sustain my new eating habits.
I definitely felt more confident and able to make these important changes being surrounded by a culture that supported healthy living and unique lifestyles, which had rubbed off on me.
But there was also an unintended side effect of this new lifestyle.
I helped influence people around me to change.
My husband, partly because he had no choice than to eat what I cooked, happily changed the way he ate, too. He even started reading the paleo books, got really inspired by it, and dropped all the extra weight he had slowly put on over the few years prior. My mom, partly prompted by realizing she had been lactose-intolerant for the past 20+ years, slowly made changes to the way she ate to resemble how I was eating. Even my doctors were intrigued to know how I had improved my condition without taking medication.
And through talking about it, I found current and new friends that had begun making similar changes, and we supported and encouraged each other to continue.
I’ve realized over the years, that the choices you make for your health or the things you believe in can be quite challenging at times and you can feel very alone.
You may not live in a very progressive, eco-friendly community, and you may not have a support system that even knows what zero waste is. But don’t let that stop you.
Keep bringing your reusable produce bags and containers to the store even if no one else is. Shop second-hand with pride. Reduce your consumption and only buy what is important, despite cultural pressure to do the opposite.
I promise you, someone notices and is being inspired.
Sustainable living is a lot easier when you’re part of a community. We created Zeroish to support each other in doing things that are are good for the environment, make us happier + healthier, and don’t require a second (or third) job or a 48-hour day to accomplish.
Ready to join us? Here’s what you can do…
- Follow along on Facebook for our zeroish challenge updates, interviews with people who are living sustainably, and guides to zero waste shopping and dining in the Twin Cities.
- Check out Instagram for unglamorous photos of zero waste kitchens, minimalist spaces, and sustainable finds.
- Sign up for our newsletter and get access to our free library of checklists, tip sheets, and ebooks to fulfill your own zeroish goals.
- Check out our Pinterest boards on topics like zero waste grocery shopping, minimalism, and living simply with kids.
- Write for us! We’re always looking for submissions to our Real Life interview series. Do you have a tip to help people go green? Are you living more sustainably than before? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.