As I settle in to my zero waste, plant-based lifestyle, I find myself still struggling to find balance. Yes, even after years of being an environmentalist, two years of being as close to zero waste as possible, and about 1.5 years as a mostly plant-based diet, I am still trying to figure it out.
For many people, work is work, and non-work is non-work; there is a separation. We do are best to leave work behind at the end of the day. But for some of us, like me, there is no distinction. It is all a blur. I feel like I am on 100% of the time. You see, unlike many of us, I live and breathe zero waste.
During the day, I work with businesses on ways in which they can reduce their waste. At night, I have this blog where I advocate for living a zero waste lifestyle.
This past weekend I was tested twice, failing both times.
I live in a nice neighborhood. The homes are relatively well maintained, people keep up their landscapes, and the street sweepers clean the roads every second and fourth Thursday and Friday, like clockwork.
This past Saturday, I had just returned home with groceries and was walking to my building. Across the street was a newer model BMW 740i parked, windows rolled up, engine idling.
I happened to look in the direction of the vehicle, just as the driver rolled down the window and threw a Sprite can onto the ground. I immediately yelled something to the effect of, “What the f*ck are you doing? You have some nerve coming into my neighborhood in your 7-series BMW and leaving your trash behind.” As I said (or yelled…) that, he window had automatically rolled back up. The driver rolled the window back down, said “sorry,” then drove off, leaving the can behind.
Yesterday, I went with some friends to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve, located about 30 minutes west of Lancaster. We arrived right at opening to avoid the crowds, but still had to wait in line to get in. We hiked about four miles in total, and the longer we were there, the more crowded the place became. Near the end of our hike it was so crowded it was hard to walk down the path.
Every so often we would come across matted down swaths of poppies, destroyed by people wanting photos. Seeing those frustrated me to no end.
At one point, I saw a woman sitting on one of those matted down areas while her friend took a photo. I couldn’t help but say, “You know, it’s people like you who killing those flowers.” I kept walking.
Should I have said something? Was it my job? Was I on my self-righteous high horse? Maybe. Who knows. It was just too hard for me to sit back and see this woman destroy the beauty she was trying so hard to capture.
I know I’m by no means perfect, but how could I sit back and watch this blatant lack of regard for the environment?
More importantly, how can I continue to live and breathe my work without it getting the best of me?