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October Zero Waste Wins and Struggles

This month has been a mixed bag in terms of zero waste and environmental efforts. I think I’ve mentioned before but my schedule has gone from 0-100 in the past month, as I’m back to work, school for a mid-life career switch, raising two kids and finding time to breathe. I actually love being busy and feeling “productive,” but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for conservation efforts. There are so many things I want to do and yet find myself getting nothing done. In fact, I feel so guilty that I just quickly donated a small amount to the Society for the Protection of NH Forests because it was a fast, yet active thing I could do in my short amount of time. As I’ve mentioned here, it’s really hard balancing daily stressors like time and budget with environmental concerns, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! Here’s where I’m up to this month:

I am relying on way more conveniences than before. When I was home with the kids for a bunch of years, I was able to cook fresh dinner every night and felt really good about it. Now, between work, school and kids activities, I find myself catching up on school assignments when I “should” be cooking My husband pitches in, but he has his own professional responsibilities as well. That means a lot more “let’s make do” with pizza delivery or something similar. I have mixed feelings about this change. On one hand, I think it’s great that my children see their mother working hard towards her goals. I also think it’s incredibly important to support local restaurants. That said, there is so much waste that comes with take-out food. I’m also guilty of filling-in with grocery delivery when I just need to cross something off the list. I do try to balance with weekly trips to the farmers market, and buy as locally as possible whenever it’s an option, but it’s hard!

That said, despite some reluctance, my kids are listening. One of my girls prefers eating school lunch (makes my life easier! see above paragraph) while the other prefers to bring food from home. However she came home from school one day and told me that she wanted school lunch, but just ate what she had brought, because she didn’t want to waste/throw away her food. She saw the smile creep onto my face and said “I’m not zero-waste, mom!” Call it what you want, but I didn’t think so maturely at nine years old. Needless to say, I was super proud of her. I was also thinking about how my children are growing up with certain habits like cloth napkins, rags rather than paper towels, reusable rather than disposable water bottles etc, and I hope these habits will stick with them through life. Again, we are not perfect – we do sneak our DD runs when we need a treat – but we’re moving in the right direction and that counts for something!

The typical way we pack for our hikes

Others are listening as well. The other day, I was talking to a colleague and quickly mentioned this site. She didn’t know about GreenLifeNH and responded that she’d check it out over the weekend. Well, imagine my delight when she arrived at school on Monday morning and said was making some changes in her classroom. The first step was using less paper! She showed me a system that she had created to cut back on waste. I was thrilled! She said it was something she had been considering doing for a while but my site gave her the push to finally do it! Now please note that I’m not trying to brag about this accomplishment (though obviously I do feel good about it) but rather show that our small actions do have power. Think of all of the trees and waste that has been saved! Think if these actions get noticed by others and they start doing the same! Think of the conversations that can get started. It’s really exciting to wonder what could happen. – Rachel

PS Have you been following the “Build Back Better” bill in Congress? Regardless of political sides or feelings, this bill could offer a lot towards our climate problems. It’s infuriating that it may not pass

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