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Starting Your Sustainable Lifestyle, Step by Step

Tara McKenna
Tara McKenna
Tara McKenna, sustainability activist and blogger.

Blogger, Tara McKenna, gave Mediaplanet the low-down on zero-waste lifestyles and what it really means to live sustainably.

What were your first steps into starting a zero-waste lifestyle?

I started reading a lot of books and doing a lot of research. I went down the rabbit hole of just learning about recycling and plastics. From that research, I started doing the simple things first. It was things like making the decision to give up disposable coffee cups, for example. I didn’t make that connection until I was like, “Oh, I clearly have reusable cups at home.” And I think most of us do but don’t always use them. So, I took baby steps by making those small transitions, but then I dove further into it by assessing everything in my kitchen and asking myself how I could reduce waste. At the grocery store, I hadn’t really thought much about buying sweet peppers in a plastic bag versus loose. So, then I made simple swaps like that. I’d say it took almost a year to transition my lifestyle completely. So, it was just taking it day by day, step by step, choosing reusables on the go and shopping with reusables and choosing less plastics and less packaging when possible.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge while transitioning into this new lifestyle?

In one sense, some of the biggest challenges with the transition were just finding new places to shop. Finding the places that are more local or less packaged — that’s a bigger challenge for some people because not everyone feels like they have the time to figure that stuff out. Luckily more and more places are starting to facilitate that.

A lot of people dive right in and think it’s too hard. Do you think that’s what discourages them from continuing?

Yes! And actually I think a lot of people are almost daunted by the lifestyle because from the outside it does look too hard, I don’t think the point is to get everyone to become zero-waste, I think the point is to have everyone do something small. If everybody decided to give up coffee cups, that would be a huge impact. It’s definitely about progress over perfection, and I think more people making small moves is better than a few people trying to do an extreme version of the lifestyle.

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