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For the last couple of years, I have been trying to live a more conscious lifestyle and transitioning towards a low waste way of life. I never use takeaway coffee cups, I frequently bring my own stainless steel straw to parties, I bring my own bags to the store. But sometimes, I feel like all these efforts are futile.

Like, in all honesty (please don’t hurt me) it is basically impossible to live a lifestyle that is 100% zero waste while remaining part of mainstream society.  Even if you buy all your food from bulk bins in your own jars or reusable bags, the products you are purchasing probably still were in packaging at some stage in the supply chain. Even if you have your coffee in a KeepCup the milk probably still came in a plastic bottle, and may not end up being properly recycled. Even if you bring your own bags to the shop, if you want to buy spinach your only option may be to purchase it in a non-recyclable soft plastic bag.

I guess these are the kind of neg comments you often read on Zero waste youtube channels. I am not one to encourage negativity or let it play a big role in my life or my subconscious. But sometimes it all just gets too much, and I just want to give up on all the little things I do to try and be a little more green.

I want to believe that my choices I make as a consumer have the power to change the world. I want to believe that by refusing a plastic straw and bringing my own shopping bag I am directly preventing a turtle from dying. But, sometimes I am overcome with a wave of existentialism where I am like what is the point, the planet is f***d anyway, sending another 5 takeaway cups to landfill is hardly the straw that broke the camels back in terms of turning the tides of climate change???

Sometimes I  even wonder whether I actually have some kind of disorder. Like is it really normal to picture the youtube video of someone pulling a plastic drinking straw out of a turtles nose every time I order a vodka lime soda and the bartender automatically puts a straw in it? Is it natural to be close to tears when I find that one of my housemates has gone against my strict household recycling regime? Why do I even bother anyway?

I think all these thoughts, but then I see many people opting for a KeepCup for their morning coffee, and a plastic-free July sticker at my local IGA, and someone sharing a new recipe for homemade beauty products on Youtube… and suddenly I get excited again about doing my bit to reduce my waste footprint. My faith in humans ability to change the world is restored. I think to myself, even if my individual actions are futile, at least they help me feel more positive about the masses one day waking up to environmentalism. One day realising that if we do not drastically change our lifestyle, and make more conscious choices as a collective whole, we will lose the beautiful wild places we love, we will use the quality of life we have built for ourselves, and once this threat becomes direr, we will need people to lead the way. We will need people who are open to the idea of a circular economy, who know how to grow veggies and reuse what they have.  Until that day, I think we need to accept the seeming futility of individual actions.

I think to myself, even if my individual ‘green’ actions are futile, at least they help me feel more positive about the masses one day waking up to environmentalism. One day realising that if we do not drastically change our lifestyle, and make more conscious choices as a collective whole, we will lose the beautiful wild places we love, we will lose the quality of life we have built for ourselves. Once this threat becomes direr, we will need people to lead the way. We will need people who are open to the idea of a circular economy, who know how to grow veggies and reuse what they have.  Until that day, I think we need to accept the seeming futility of individual actions.  Instead, viewing them as ways to open conversation with others. Instead, viewing our free will as a tool to shape the future of our planet.

Do you think there is any point to trying to live a ‘zero free’ lifestyle? or do we simply all need to try and become more conscious without labelling ourselves?