WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE PROJECT: Swaps vs. Sacrifices

It's the very first day of our Work With What You Have Project and we are SO excited to start this journey with you. Here's to less waste in our lives and more room for personal and community growth. By prioritizing the intentional cultivation of meaningful experiences over mindless consumption, we can move toward a more reciprocal relationship with our environment. And man, do we really need some of that.

Zero waste advocates Lauren of Trash is for Tossers and Ree of Fort Negrita often talk about framing decisions in our lives as swaps instead of sacrifices. In this instance, this language is important to use because it is easy to contextualize major transitions in terms of what we are losing. I'd love for us to work together to celebrate the many things we gain when we waste less and do more.

So your short and sweet challenge for today is to start doing a waste audit of your life. Examine ways in which you are wasteful and identify swaps that you can make to reuse, reduce, and recycle. As you develop your list, be sure to pencil in how these swaps can help you create the opportunity to engage with your environment, yourself, and those you love in a new way.

For example, as I went through my waste audit, I realized that although I carry a big reusable bag with me for carting groceries home, when I go to the supermarket I still put carrots and broccoli in separate plastic bags. Part of this is because there aren't scales at cashier stations for weighing your produce as you check out. And so, when it comes to buying fruits and veggies, I have started to do a lot more shopping at an inexpensive farmers' market that is within walking distance from my house. Because my food gets weighed right at the counter, I can just put it in my reusable bag. This swap has helped open me up to a new community and it has been really lovely to not only save on groceries, but also to feel known--and to know--the farmers who harvest my food. And buying fewer processed foods in disposable packages has encouraged me to get more creative with what I cook. This afternoon, for example, I made a roasted eggplant and apple sandwich on homemade bread for lunch. With a little honey and olive oil, it was amazing--and zero waste! (For more inspiration on cooking with whole foods, check out the awesome crew of Kicking It Whole School).

This is a small example but it's okay to start your waste audit by focusing on the little things. As you prove to yourself what you can do, I trust you'll feel empowered to start taking on bigger changes with greater social, political, and ecological resonance--far sooner than you might think is possible.

Today is just the beginning. We'll talk more tomorrow. For now, take some time to sit down with yourself and do a waste audit. It's as much a creative exercise as it is an environmental one and we are looking forward to learning about what you discover!