They faced the challenge and learned new habits
Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the saying. If you tell yourself: “I’d like to reduce how much garbage I produce”, you probably won’t achieve much because there are no concrete constraints. It’s just a vague, amorphous wish, and it’s hard to tell if you’re succeeding or failing. But if you set yourself a very clear, very ambitious goal, you’ll be a lot more inclined to rise up to the challenge and take the steps necessary to truly change things.
That’s what a family of four from Ontario, Canada, did over the past year. The VanderMeers set themselves the drastic (to most) goal of producing only enough garbage to fill one 77-liter trash bag (the size that fits in a standard trash bin like pictured below).
One of the things they had to give up was packaged foods. No more individually wrapped granola bars. No more crackers in plastic bags, etc. so a side-effect was a lot more home-cooking, and no doubt much healthier food. You basically have to stop and think about the decisions you make rather than just do them out of habit, without ever thinking about what will happen to all that wasteful packaging and unnecessary stuff that most of us constantly buy.
But the best thing about this 1-bag-of-garbage challenge is that even though it has now ended, the VanderMeer are keeping many of the habits they acquired; “Are we going to produce more than one bag next year, I would say probably, but I’m guessing not a whole lot more than that, so we’ll see what happens,” they told the CBC.
Don’t you find that inspiring? Maybe this is the kind of challenge that you’d like to try? Do you think your family could do it? If not for a year, maybe 6 months?