3 Skills I Learned While Going Zero Waste

Time-consuming, expensive and inconvenient. Those attributes are often associated with zero-waste movement. As proof, the top article that showed on Google after typing these words was called Going Green, and it wasn’t the only one.

Going Zero Wast is fun!

I started my zero waste journey two years ago with setting a goal to live zero waste by 2023. Ever since, I’ve adapted a lot of lifestyle changes, particularly in my shopping habits, eating out and meal preparation or making my cleaning and cosmetic products. It hasn’t always been easy, and I can certainly understand why zero waste might seem time-consuming.

“I am not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s going to be worth it.”

It took me two years to nail down my routine, and I’m still far away from my goal. Yet, I take it slowly and enjoy the journey, hoping that one day I would reach my goal if I stay persistent. For now, it’s rewarding to see that what was a time-consuming chore a year ago, takes me just a few minutes to complete. It helps that I’ve become familiar with my neighborhood, so now I know where to find a farmer’s market or a bulk store, or which coffee shops will accept Bring-Your-Own mug. It didn’t happen overnight, but it paid off in ways I didn’t expect.

“Research is the ability to investigate data and information, analyze it and then communicate it to others in an effective way. Research skills are some of the most wanted skills employers look for in a resume because they want employees to be able to find answers and possible solutions to questions in a methodical way. Research skills are among the most highly-prized transferable skills employees are looking for in today’s job competitive market.”

My initial struggle with zero-waste chores was the best thing that happened to me. I had to make choices that would simplify my life and search for solutions to my problems. From a quick google search to reading books, reviews, blogs and following influencers on Instagram, I did thorough research to learn everything about zero waste living. My favourite example of research I did is how I switched from single-use coffee cups to a reusable coffee mug. Before making a purchase, I researched everything I could, including durability, material, size, price, carbon footprint caused by manufacturing, packaging, and so on. I created an Excel sheet with clear comparisons of different products. Almost three years later, I still use the same coffee mug I bought based on my research, and it is as good as new, even though the colour has faded. Also, it saved me a few bucks over the years as many coffee shops are offering between 10%-15% discount if you bring your mug!

I became good at seeking information while utilizing different sources and performing analysis. What seems like a dull and time-consuming waste of time, in the beginning, turned into mastering a new skill while diverting hundreds of single-use cups from landfills and saving a few bucks!

“Planning is the mental process that allows us to choose the necessary actions to reach a goal, decide the right order, assign each task to the proper cognitive resources, and establish a plan of action.”

Are you thinking of going zero waste? If so, planning is another skill that will come handy, and you will become a planning expert in a matter of months. Meal preparation, making your cosmetics and cleaning products and shopping at bulk stores or farmer’s markets will change from overwhelming and time-consuming chores to easy-to-execute, enjoyable me-time. Start planning small and take it one step at the time. A few years ago, I had two jobs and no money, so eating out every day wasn’t an option. I had to plan my meals, so I could take them to work. After a quick inspection of what was in my fridge, I created my meal plan for the week and noted in my calendar that each Sunday, I dedicated 2 hours in the afternoon to meal preparation. Did it always work out? No. There were Sundays when I had to go to work or when I was out with friends, or simply too lazy to do anything. And that was ok. Don’t be too hard on yourself at the beginning, and remember planning will get easier over time. Now, a year and a half later, planning is an essential part of my life, and I have most of it figured out. It doesn’t always work out, but I do my best. Start with small actions first and give yourself time to accomplish them. Plan and make notes on your calendar. Be kind to yourself.

“Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter — not harder — so that you get more done in less time.”

An essential part of planning is time management. You can plan, but if you won’t manage your time right, things will not get done. To tackle a full-time job, a side hassle, personal time and going zero waste on top of that, you will master the art of time-management. Like everything else, it might seem difficult at the beginning, but the secret is to set your priorities and divide your time between the things that matter to you. Now, I have dedicated time to my zero waste activities each week, so I’m able to stay on top of my lifestyle choices. If I have meal preparation planned for Sunday afternoon, I do my best to plan other activities around that. Remember, zero waste is a guilt-free lifestyle, so don’t feel bad if sometimes your plans don’t work out. Life happens to all of us.

Zero waste living is not only helping our planet. It enriches our lives, helps us build healthier habits and in the process, you will learn some of the transferable skills desired by so many employers. When you do, don’t be afraid to add them to your LinkedIn profile to let everyone know. It might just help you to score your dream job!

Passionate Zero Waste Advocate based in Vancouver. Healthy body and mind. Zero Waste living on budget.

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