In an effort to remain transparent, I just want to say that I am not perfect. I have not achieved a completely zero waste lifestyle. I am learning every day and monitoring my progress. But let me be honest here.
My family will NEVER achieve complete zero waste.
By this I don't mean we will have that neat little mason jar of trash per year. No, that is unrealistic. I mean, my husband is a type 1 diabetic with an insulin pump and sensors. He tests his blood sugar daily, goes through countless plastic tubes, insert sets, wrapping, etc per month. Do I feel wasteful guilt about this? YES. But it's wasted guilt.
He can't fix this, it's not a problem of affluence, it's a genetic inherited awful, annoying thing and I can't do much about the waste. The best that can happen is that at some point Medtronic (or other companies) create a take-back program to recycle/recapture some of these materials. But there would still likely be a lot of waste involved in this.
I have come to accept this.
It took me a while, I'm not gonna lie. Not that I ever thought I could do anything about it, but I still felt guilty and like a failure. All these people are moving towards zero waste, demonstrating their tiny mason jars of trash from an entire year, showcasing their homes almost completely empty of stuff (and always completely white? How does anyone keep a house completely white? Dirt exists no matter how we decorate, I would be cleaning like a mad woman all the time. Apologies, I digress).
This left me feeling like it was an unattainable goal.
I have a daughter, two dogs, a diabetic husband, and myself. We are all flawed. We are all messy and we use stuff. We're mindful about where we get some of it, and seeing as how I really hate waste, we rarely ever throw anything away. But we still have probably about 1 bag of garbage per week and 1 bag of recycling per week.
And this is with mindfulness.
What is most of it? Food packaging. Working late, gotta get food on the table, take out it is. Can't get to the farmer's market every weekend to buy all zero packaged goods. Buying butter at the store it is. Even though I bring in my own produce & grocery bags, there's still inevitably something that comes in a package. Work full time, school full time, daughter needs to eat at a specific time, or we all pay dearly. Frozen pizza for dinner. Didn't remember to soak beans this morning, can of beans it is.
This is LIFE.
Obsessing over every single piece of garbage is wasted energy.
Observing every single piece of garbage you contribute is science. Observation is a scientist lead job really. They test something out, observe the outcome, and document the results. Success or failure depends on the outlook of those desired results.
Worrying makes no tangible impact on the planet, only your mind. In a world of worriers, be the scientist. Observe, document, and make decisions for the planet based on your results.
Desired Goal= Zero Waste Output.
Realistic Goal= Much Less Waste Output
After practicing this for a bit now, I believe the best strategy is to analyze what's going out in the bin, and make small corrections where you can. When you are making changes that affect your entire family, they have to disturb as little as possible in the way the family operates. It needs to be a smooth transition. Children are affected by the mood of the family, and if your spouse is angry because (s)he can't order pizza for delivery every now and then, other problems might start to bubble.
If I was single and childless, I would pretty much renounce everything, gut and convert an old bus into my own roving home, be chained to nowhere, and have as little as possible. I don't desire to accumulate things, I desire to accumulate experiences. And believe me, I'm working my husband to try to make this happen with the 5 of us (3 humans + 2 dogs). But the point is, if he's not on board 100%, and I force this to happen, it will only hurt our relationship, and then what's the point of the experiences I longed for? My inner feminists wants to revolt and say "who needs him! You can do it alone and it would be easier!" and the traditionalist in me says "but you chose to share your life with this person, you're a team, and decisions need to be made together, and you know that you tend to be flighty, flaky, and not truly live in the real world. You really need the balance he brings to the table". And my heart ultimately makes the decision, she says "He's your best friend, and every experience shared with him makes them that much more meaningful.". Humans thrive in groups, and while there are many people who can do everything alone and don't mind it. I am not one of those. I am the person who's door is always open, and wants to take care of my village like a grandma, and who gets great joy from doing so. It's my purpose. Again, my nickname from teenage-hood has been "little mama" and that has been because I always find someone to take care of.
So how does this relate to you?
Well here's a possible example of a dreamer and a realist co-existing as a team:
Let's say you want to get rid of your car and go completely bike life. Your spouse needs to be on board, otherwise it won't work. If your spouse is hesitant, I suggest this (If your spouse is the realist) - Layout what the car(s) are costing you per week/month/year. Figure out how many miles you drive per week/month/year. Google map search your address from home to work via bike route. Look up the rates for Uber or Lyft or another service in your area for the general times you might need to drive. How much would you save per year now that you might not need those gym memberships? If the math suggests it will be substantial savings, and you both think it's a good idea. Go for it. If not, then reassess and maybe try it for a day, week, or month to see what the savings would be and if you like it. But park your cars at a friends house or something so you won't be tempted to get in them.
These are just my thoughts and admissions for the day on relationships when the two of you are vastly different in your approach to life. You love this person and you love the Earth, and you can find ways to nurture both.
We are not perfect. No one is. And that's okay. Doing anything, making any changes, has an impact.
Hope you are having a fabulous week!