How to behave responsibly and not to be a freak?

Minimum waste. Zero waste. Green. Eco friendly. Sustainable.
Why do we automatically link these words with adjectives like freaky, hippie and eventually, turned-nuts? 
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First of all, who are these people? In general, they are people who adopted a lifestyle that is considerate to the environment.
Why? Because they are well aware of the fact that we only have one planet and the resources are limited. They are also aware that if we want to keep our planet in a good condition and ensure a good-quality life for future generations, we have to act, produce and consume in a more sustainable way.
That’s why they always take the environment into account in their behaviour. In practice, it can mean many things, from using eco-friendly cleaning products to DIY your own washing machine tablets and toothpaste. From taking a cotton bag for shopping to bringing your own container for cheese and meat at the deli counter. From recycling plastics and glass to having a compost on your balcony.

The problem is, that in today’s world, there are so many obstacles for these people to maintain such lifestyle. Take for example the problem with packaging waste. Everything is wrapped in plastic today and it takes a real determination to buy your favourite goods packaging-free. Try to put the fruits and vegetables in your own cotton bag on the weight in front of the cashier lady in one of the Czech supermarkets. A great way how to upset them, that’s for sure. Try to tell the waiter to bring you the mojito without the straw on a family birthday party. You basically have to constantly refuse things and show people brand new (but actually very old) concepts such as the cotton produce bag or mason jar. And doing so, you automatically stand out. You are the person with the cotton bag, you are the person with his/her own container, cutlery or coffee cup.
And who is a person who doesn’t conform to the rest of the society? A freak.

On the other hand, if there wouldn’t be these people, pioneers so to speak, we would never move further with our lifestyle. And on a better note, the situation is slowly changing, there are more and more people with cotton bags and reusable coffee cups and the businesses are slowly getting used to it. The struggle is still real, but it’s becoming less and less painful.
The situation could be changed so easily though – if only packaging-free shopping was a standard, accessible for everyone. Not only the packaging thing, imagine if the non eco-friendly cleaning products or cosmetics were banned and everybody would have to buy the eco-friendly ones. Then there would be no more freaks and no more “normal” ones.

So how to behave responsibly and not to be labeled an eco-terorist at the same time?
Reflect on the things you could do better, you-yourself and your household, too.
I don’t want to repeat the zero waste 5R mantra, you can find out more about zero waste on dedicated blogs. Me, I believe that you can base your lifestyle on these 3 things:
1. Prevent the waste from being created. Start with the basic things-replace the plastic bags with cotton ones, buy storage containers for dried fruit, nuts and other things that can be bought without packaging.
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2. Use more gentle, eco-friendly cleaning/cosmetic products. Let’s not send even more junk into our waters than there already is. Replace your 8 different killer cleaning products with 2 good, more gentle ones. Note that you can also replace some liquids like soap or shampoo with their solid version, and thus, spare the packaging. 🙂
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3. Apply the principles of reusability. Buy reusable water bottles and keepcups for those who gotta have their morning coffee on the way to work. Reuse empty glass jars or any nice, sturdy containers.
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In other words. set up a base that will determine how you behave – at home, but also when you shop or consume outside. You’ll feel good, trust me.
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Now the thing is that once you have set up that base, there’s no need to be militant. You don’t need to strongly refuse ALL packaging or nearly die from thirst because you forgot your water bottle and you don’t want to buy the plastic one. Occasional plastic bag for your fruits and veggies or a plastic cup on an outside event never killed nobody. That’s often a problem of those afore-mentioned eco freaks-that they are too militant and completely overwhelmed with their lifestyle. One more thing- don’t oblige other people to do what you do, inspire them instead.
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I am confident about my household and how I manage it. It is truly minimum waste (see the pics above). So I have clear conscience when I buy a bottled drink or a use a plastic cup every now and then. And I guess that’s also keeping most of the people away from labelling me a green lunatic. In their eyes, I stay a normal girl who just happen to care about the environment.

T.

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