Reducing waste and seeking a more sustainable way of living has caused arguments, changed our family life beyond all recognition and has made me deeply question my own values. It has also given me an overwhelming sense of calm.
I'm approaching 40 and I've landed on a way of living that makes me feel good. It has pushed me to make better, healthier choices for my family.
It's not about being 'plastic-free', or 'zero-waste' - I don't need to give my lifestyle a hashtag (although I do, frequently on Instagram!). For me, it's just about living more gently...reducing single use as much as possible and seeking out a more sustainable, less wasteful, happier, kinder lifestyle. Helping other people to do the same is a massive bonus.
I've realised through the discussions I've generated on social media, and from talking to my customers, that we can't possibly expect any other human to share our exact-same values and beliefs. We might all have very clear, similar intentions to 'protect the planet' or 'do our bit', but this is interpreted in totally different ways by different people. This is why it's so important for me to run the shop without judgement.
Lots of people have made the assumption that because I run a business which strives to have a positive impact on the planet, that I'm vegan. I'm not. I'm not even vegetarian. I don't need to have statistics shoved down my throat about the impact that I am having on the planet by consuming animal products on the environment, nor do I need to be shown horrific images of animal cruelty thanks. Nope. I am aware and conscious of it. Those who try to influence this way, in my opinion, make assumptions that they understand everyone else values and that they are the same as theirs. This is naive, and wrong, and can create divisions rather than unite people in a cause.
So, a little bit about my choices:
I choose to stock Who Gives A Crap because I have seen shocking poverty in developing countries and want to contribute somehow.
I choose independent suppliers where I can - real people who I am getting to know and like.
I support local businesses as much as I can on social media and with my own wallet.
I have chosen to invest my time and money into building a business which supports others to 'do their bit', but to also support us to be gentler, more sociable and caring consumers.
I notice when a regular customer hasn't been in for a while, I get to know my lovely customers and they get to know me.
I don't and won't sell online (I like human interaction too much!).
It's not all about plastic and waste - its about much, much more.
So, to those people whose fingers are twitching over the keys to start their comment with 'if you really wanted to make a difference' - bog off! I've started a positive moment in my hometown. A movement which triggers conversations between parents and their children about why they're refilling their old laundry detergent bottles, and why the shampoo is in an old pasta sauce jar. These people don't feel judged because they are not living the perfect, zero waste lifestyle - they are, quite rightly, proud to be taking steps in the right direction. They are 'doing their bit' and I promise you that their bit will get bigger now that they have taken the lid off that Dolmio jar!