Moving towards a zero waste lifestyle can be great for your wellbeing (as well as the environment).
Written by Ailsa Burns, our resident wellness expert.
What parts of your lifestyle create waste? How does this waste make you feel? How can you change your habits to reduce this waste?
My zero waste story is a journey. I have always been aware of the environment (I studied Environmental Science, which should ring some alarm bells), however, post university my awareness got lost in daily life until I found the Ethical Hour Twitter chat.
Over the past year and a half, I have:
- Subscribed to an organic weekly veg box which does not use plastic packaging.
- Started recycling my food waste.
- I have stopped eating meat.
- I have gradually removed most of the plastic waste from my beauty routine.
- I have stopped shopping from fast fashion outlets and I have significantly reduced the amount of clothing I purchase.
- I don’t buy water in plastic bottles.
- I always refuse straws.
- My reusable shopping bag is always with me.
- I use a bulk supermarket to refill my washing up, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.
- I almost never purchase takeaway coffee.
No I am not here to gloat. And yes, it may seem like a lot, but my habits aren’t entirely consistent. There is still a lot more I could do and I am by no means perfect but I am trying! There has been a big change in my lifestyle which I know make its better for the environment but I never expected the dramatic shift in me as a person. My sense of wellbeing and overall happiness in life has dramatically improved with it.
I am not saying that becoming more environmentally friendly is a cure for any anxiety/depression you may be feeling; that very much trivialises the seriousness of those issues. However, I am saying that I have felt a great sense of joy, fulfilment and contentment come from having a cause to be an advocate for.
Foster a connection to nature
Being kinder to the environment and moving towards a zero waste lifestyle helps to foster a greater sense of connection to nature. We feel that we are doing our part for the benefit of the environment. We become more conscious of the environment around us. If you do a simple search online, you see countless scientific studies that show how a more conscious lifestyle contributes to an increase in health, happiness and connection to nature.
Become more aware of yourself
Moving towards a zero waste lifestyle also encourages us to become more aware of ourselves. As you analyse your daily habits and the impact of your plastic consumption, you become more conscious of yourself and why you do the things you do. This self-awareness is very much a part of the teaching of meditation and as soon as you become more self-aware, you can truly understand yourself and therefore, take greater care of yourself.
It can also be incredibly empowering to bring an element of challenge into your life. Challenges, however, small or large, encourage self-improvement and allow us to test ourselves without an element of danger. By setting challenges to reduce our waste, we can build our self-esteem and have a positive impact on our wellbeing.
Create contentment in your life
The main reason for me, however, is the greater sense of contentment I feel as I have something that I passionately believe in. There is a sense of community to the movement and I really do want to help invoke change in others (without preaching) and that sense of purpose helps enrich my life.
Next time you think about being kinder to the environment, think of the positive impact it could have not only on the planet but also on the wellbeing of yourself and others around you.