It was refreshing to speak to Amanda about her journey to zero waste – she explains how she not only became more conscious about her waste, but also became minimalist and saved money.
Amanda from Nottinghamshire is an incredible woman to know, and not your ‘typical zero waster’ as she puts it – she’s 52 years old, lives with MS and has been on her journey to living zero waste and as minimally as possible over the past two years.
This is a refreshing take on how another has made changes while understanding not everyone is perfect and how living zero waste and minimally can help ease the stresses of life.
Amanda, it’s been great to follow you on Instagram and see the changes you’ve been making to live more zero waste in your life, can I ask, what does it mean to you?
It means to reduce the waste my family produces, as much as possible.
Zero waste is an aspiration rather than actual fact. At the moment for me, progress is more important than perfection.
Couldn’t agree more! It seems to some it should be all or nothing but I also believe that any progress is that itself. When did you start consciously making changes to your waste habits and attitude to consumerism?
I’ve been living this way for almost 2 years now.
At first I started to get overwhelmed by the ‘stuff’ I had accumulated over my life and I was going through a very stressful period and I was looking to try and simplify it. I figured I couldn’t change some of the stresses in my life, but I could change the physical chaos around me – I could simplify my home [and] make it calmer.
I hadn’t realised at the time, that by doing this, I would not only reduce the stress I was feeling, but it would also give me more time and more money, as I wasn’t spending on unnecessary things.
I’m glad that you managed to find something that helped calm the stresses in your life and sounds as if it was a lucrative thing to do in many ways! Was there someone or a moment that inspired you to make these changes? Or something that helped identify that that was what you needed?
I live with MS and because of that my energy levels are very low. I knew I couldn’t do it all at once, so I broke the whole decluttering process into small, manageable chunks.
Sometimes I could do just 10 minute tasks, sometimes more, some days none.
It took a whole year before I felt happy with the amount of stuff we had and with each bag/box that I let go of, I felt calmer.
Wow, so it’s really been a massive life changing thing not just related to waste but also your own mental health too? That’s really inspiring. Do you think that living a more zero waste lifestyle is difficult?
Not really no, but it’s challenging. Society isn’t structured towards a zero waste lifestyle.
I’ve learnt what I can and can’t do, and I don’t stress about the changes I can’t yet make. I’ve noticed people’s attitude towards plastic in particular, is starting to change – there’s more discussion going on, and a bigger awareness of the issues plastic pollution is causing our environment. There’s so many zero waste options opening up now too, so it’s getting easier and easier to live this way.
Definitely – it’s been brilliant to see how many are talking about the problems and taking the issues on. – A lot of people have mentioned though, that they believe living zero waste has financial implications, would you be inclined to agree or do you have another perspective?
Again, not to me, this is partly down to the fact I don’t waste money anymore on items I no longer need. When we go shopping now, there’s only a handful of aisles we go to, as we no longer buy lots of things we did before. My priorities have shifted.
So, what changes did you find easiest to make in reducing your waste and expenditure?
Swapping liquid soap for a bar of soap. We used to get through a bottle each week and now that’s 52 plastic bottles I no longer have to dispose of.
Water bottles too, we all have our own reusable bottles and I’ve saved so much money doing this.
Were there any changes that were difficult to make or possibly still are?
Changing other people’s shopping habits. My family are getting there, but you can’t force change – it has to be developed through an individual’s understanding. I concentrate on what I’m doing, but I know it’s having an impact on those around me.
I think it’s definitely a big change for everyone to undertake but as you said, I agree it has to be developed through understanding and awareness. In the face of the challenges and difficulties – what inspires you to keep going the most?
The community I’m part of on Instagram are a huge inspiration. I get so much feedback, support and guidance from them. Knowing that I’ve reduced what my family send to landfill by two thirds also keeps me going – Our planet and the wildlife living on it deserves our respect.
That’s an amazing reduction! And I’ve definitely found them so helpful and supportive too, yourself included! – Have you started anything else outside of the home since living more zero waste?
I write to companies now about their policies and practices. I do my bit obviously but I also need to be more active, otherwise nothing will change.
Governments and companies will always put votes and profit before environmental issues, it’s up to us to challenge them.
Woohoo! So glad to hear you’re challenging against the norm and using your voice. I’m sure this will inspire others to use their votes and voices wisely to push for change. Last but not least, I’d like to ask what benefits have you personally found from your new lifestyle and what would be your advice to someone who is new to zero waste?
[Benefits to my personal life] I’ve saved money, time and my life is less stressful living this way. I’m happier.
My advice to others would be – Start with the basics, take your own bag and water bottle with you.
Avoid food that is served in single use disposable containers. Then raise your own awareness by reading up on the issues, or joining some of the online zero waste communities. There’s lots of help and inspiration out there.
We’d like to thank Amanda again for giving us her time to answer our questions and agreeing to the interview.
It’s been so inspiring to hear about the different ways people approach a zero waste lifestyle and Amanda’s story has certainly showed that happiness can definitely come from having less. If you’d like to follow Amanda on Instagram you can follow her here – @small_sustainable_steps
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