Maybe it’s your new year’s resolution. Or perhaps you want to shake things up at the office or in your house. The timing is not so important, but the goal is: “I want to reduce my waste footprint,” you say. You write it on a sticky note and list off five things to tackle immediately, with the understanding that your journey is yours and yours alone. It’ll look different for you and everybody else. You’re off to the races and there’s no looking back!
Except…after a couple of weeks, you look around at all the people still using single-use plastic bags, buying overly-packaged products, and you wonder, “Is this even working? Do my actions alone make any actual difference?” So how do you keep up the momentum when the mid-resolution doldrums and uncertainty set in?
For us here at KOOSHOO, our solutions to this conundrum can be broadly categorized under the following:
- The Why
- Remember the Ripple
1. Achieve your waste goals by understanding “The Why”
It really helps us to frame our waste resolutions or low-waste goals with the big picture in mind. (But not too big, lest we get overwhelmed.) Recently, we thought up a statement to frame our resolution to reduce waste and connect it with a bigger issue.
“When I resolve to reduce the amount of disposable plastics in my life, I don't send as much garbage to the landfill, which means less waste getting into the environment and polluting my local waterways.”
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person generates approximately 2.2 kilograms (4.9 pounds) of solid waste, per day. This equates to roughly 811 kilograms (1,789 pounds) annually. That’s a lot of waste. Even cutting those figures by a quarter, when spread out over many millions of individuals, makes a large impact.
Here at KOOSHOO our attempt to reduce our own waste has manifested in a number of ways, but most especially through a laser-like focus on organic, low-impact, and fair-trade materials in our products, and a plastic-free shipping solution to get the products out to the world. When we consider that 15 million plastic hair ties are disposed of every day in the US and that that amount of material is equal to the weight of a city bus, we think our small decisions really do add up to a big difference.
Remember: A drop in the bucket eventually leads to a full bucket! This brings us to our next solution…
2. Achieve your waste goals by remembering the ripple
Even after you’ve attached your goals and resolutions to a bigger “why,” and come up with some concrete numbers, you might still be wondering… “Do my individual actions make a difference?”
If it wasn’t already obvious, we’re here to say, emphatically: YES, they DO. (We just might not be able to “see” it right away.)
When we say “ripple” we’re talking of course, about the “ripple effect.” This is the idea that one small drop of water landing on an otherwise still area of water, creates disturbances that ripple outward, changing the very nature of the water. These ripples might be tiny, but they can also be magnificent tidal waves. From tiny ripples to large waves, each has its own impacts.
Ripple effects from reducing our own personal waste load have a way of playing out in a way that we can’t physically see or understand, at least not immediately.
What this looks like for KOOSHOO
- We’ve committed to plastic-free packaging, reducing the amount of packaging waste going to landfill (please recycle yours!)
- We’ve dedicated a lot of time to understanding the compostability of our products and are dedicated to finding a solution. The journey continues!
- Speaking of plastics, if you couldn’t already tell, we’re on a mission to reduce plastics from the business of hair accessories. We create products with a focus on plastic-free. Higher quality = longer-lasting = less waste.
What this looks like for YOU
The ripple effect on your life from reducing your waste might go something like this:
You’ve committed to reducing your food waste going to the landfill. For a while, you are composting up a storm. You’re also bringing your own lunch to work, to avoid having to buy expensive takeout that’s overly wrapped in plastic. Maybe you get your roommates, partner, or family to play along.
One day, a coworker sees you reheating your epic veggie stir-fry lunch and casually asks for the recipe. They also not-so-casually ask why you’ve been hoarding banana peels in the company freezer and you explain to them that you’re on this mission to reduce your food and plastic waste and that you’ve started composting.
The ripple grows...
That coworker thinks this is the best idea since sliced bread and asks if they can add their orange peels to your freezer pile. They also wonder about the best containers to bring their lunch in next time. You delightedly open the freezer door and suggest they check out the secondhand shop for reusable glass containers with lids.
Next thing you know, the entire office is like, “This is great, we’re so happy you’re composting, but our freezer is full of food scraps! Isn’t there another way?” Obviously, you oblige them with a lunch and learn to showcase the benefits of red-wiggler composting units.
Before you know it...
...your office is the proud new owner of a sleek, modern-looking indoor composting setup; you can hear an echo in your garbage bin (from it being perpetually empty); and your entire team has started a weekly recipe-trading channel on Slack called “#leftoverlunches.” Your building landlord is thrilled too: between all the composting and bringing lunch from home, they’ve been able to reduce the number of pickups from their haulers, saving them money.
And you thought you didn’t have any impact…
Personal Accomplishment: Nothing to Shake a Stick At
We should also note that reducing waste, beyond having a positive ripple effect of change into our community and beyond, also has the distinct benefit of endowing us with a sense of personal pride and accomplishment. When we tackle any aspect of waste reduction - be it composting, refusing single-use plastics, or carpooling to work - it makes us feel good, and we’re more likely to keep doing it.
At KOOSHOO we are all about empowerment. We also believe that suffering is optional. (After all, KOOSHOO = feeling good). We want to help you understand that your shifts, even small ones, have a very real impact on this plant - starting with you (yes, the you reading this!), your sphere of influence and rippling out into the rest of the world.
At the end of the day, regardless of what waste-reducing missions we choose to accept, we’re all on the right track toward a more sustainable future. The point is that we’re making conscious decisions to do something about waste, attaching these decisions to a bigger “why” and letting the ripple take care of the rest. In this, the goals, resolutions, and commitments become more and bigger: they become a way of life.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist