What Made Me Want To Change
In October 2016, a professional assignment relocated me to India for a year, where I found myself stunned and frightened by waste, pollution, and water scarcity. It was there I began to realize how much we consume as modern humans, and how much we thoughtlessly throw away.
I began following zero waste and minimal living blogs in search of inspiration and support for a better way of life for myself. As I researched, I started to realize that paring down my possessions and seriously curtailing my waste was going to be a challenge that would require constant consciousness. I would need to slowly retrain my brain to think differently about what I buy and use every day, and how I dispose of it.
How I Got Started
Things began primitively for me. I started by refusing the plastic-bottled water that was delivered to my apartment every day, and investing in a water filter and a reusable bottle. I swapped my plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, and experimented with making my own toothpaste, moisturizer, and deodorant. I started avoiding plastic-wrapped food and made sure to carry my own cloth bags with me to the farm stand or supermarket.
I began rethinking my food choices, and doing some research on the environmental impact of animal agriculture. After experimenting with vegan and vegetarian diets, I decided that for the time being, a pescatarian diet is a good compromise between my values and my health. I also began composting my food scraps and donating my compost to my local park.
I left my fashion industry job, and started seriously considering how much clothing I own, where it comes from, and how I take care of it. I pared down my wardrobe, and recommitted to taking care of my things so that they last a long time. I quit having my clothes chemically dry-cleaned, and began using alternative laundering methods instead. I began to more carefully consider any given purchase, and assess whether it was truly necessary. In most cases, I found that the answer was no.
The Woman Who Inspires Me
Sudie Mae Laird was my great-grandmother, my mother's mother's step-mother. She is also my daily inspiration for living more simply. Like many depression era survivors, Sudie Mae couldn't abide wastefulness. She lived in a tiny house which was beautifully kept and stocked with classic essentials. She grew her own vegetables and never allowed food to go to waste. Her life was simple, elegant, and happy. Thanks to her, I know that living less wastefully doesn't have to mean living without style or comfort. It just means redefining what is necessary.