Facing Someday…

Filed in Blog by on October 28, 2015 19 Comments
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what's on your to do list?Admit it, you’ve got a list of things you’ll do ‘Some Day’.

Whether it’s starting a diet, decluttering your shed or travelling the world with your partner, there are a host of things you’ll get around to when you have the time, money or energy.

But sometimes, Some Day jumps up and bites you in the proverbials.

Perhaps you arrive at the Doctors for a routine test and are told you’re morbidly obese.

Maybe your spouse dies unexpectedly and you never get to take that trip.

Or perhaps you get to the shed to declutter it and find everything covered in mould / rust from the leaky roof you never fixed which means you have to throw everything away.

It was a bit like that for me and my Zero Waste journey.

sorry too late

What’s your catalyst for change?

For a few years I’d been dipping a toe into living more lightly. The birth of my daughter was my catalyst. I realised life was about more than just me getting what I wanted. I had the rude awakening that long after I’d filled the landfill with several cars, mattresses and tonnes of plastic my daughter needed a safe and beautiful planet to live.

I read about the environment and made small changes; turning things off standby, cooking from scratch and using charity shops. I read about climate change and figured it might happen in 400 years’ time; it didn’t seem urgent or particularly conceivable.

But when my daughter was three, I faced my Some Day…


Facing Some Day

We were on holiday in Boscastle when we were caught in flash flooding. Flood waters washed away 75 cars, 100 buildings and finally, the bridge out of the village. 150 people were airlifted to safety.

As I was standing with my daughter in my arms, wondering whether I’d ever see my husband again I came to the conclusion – rightly or wrongly – that this was climate change. And it wasn’t happening in 400 years, it was happening RIGHT NOW!

Whether that was true or not doesn’t matter. It was my wakeup call about the fragility of life. I chose to become part of the solution for my daughter’s future. Because ALL our children deserve to inherit a clean and healthy place to live.

boscastle flood

What motivates you?

So today I’m interested in YOUR why. What motivates you to make the choices you do? What inspires you? What drives you?

And if you haven’t had to face your Some Day yet, what keeps you stuck? What irrational decisions are you making? Why do you lack the motivation to do what you know is right? Or, deep down, do you deny what you know is right?


Start with Why

I wonder this about individuals, businesses AND large organisations. There are many wonderful businesses running a sustainable, fair and ethical venture. Of course they are there to make a profit, but they understand that treating staff and suppliers well and using some of that profit to benefit the environment or charities has positive knock on effects. In fact, Simon Sinek in his book “Start with why” states that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

While there are many great businesses and organisations out there, there are many who are still stuck in outdated ideas that it’s ALL about profit and power. Or maybe they fear moving forward.


Frustrated? You will be!

Take Local Authorities for example. They get a lot of rap, right? I see negative comments about councils who charge for green waste collections, who charge for bags to line food caddies or who pare back services to three weekly landfill collections. It seems they can do nothing right.

While I feel we have good facilities where I live, I AM frustrated at lack of beverage carton recycling. Just 20 minutes away, where my Mum lives, they have them collected from kerbside (and batteries, textiles and plastics!). Here we have just tins, glass and paper.


Benefits vs cost

When you weigh up the benefits to collecting beverage cartons (payment per tonne for material delivered to the recycling plant in Halifax, increase of overall household waste recycling rates and access to communication tools and PR activities to increase uptake), it seems a no brainer to me. Why wouldn’t a council offer that service?

Back in 2007 only 20% of UK Local Authority areas had access to beverage carton recycling facilities. By March 2008, 86% of UK Local Authorities had recycling facilities. Now it’s an impressive 92%, with 62% offering kerbside collections.


Is it a no-brainer?

So what about the 8% who aren’t offering collections? I don’t pretend for one minute I could run our local council any better than it is and perhaps there are sound financial, technical or contractual reasons why collections can’t be put in place. As this article points out, the cuts Local Authorities are facing are a real issue – understandably causing them to resist change – but what if that decision depends on one person signing a piece of paper, standing up and making a difference?

And what if that council is simply stuck in old ideas, making irrational decisions or lacking motivation? I wonder what their real WHY is.


Don’t judge a man…

I like to live by the adage “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” After all, we can never know what drives, motivates and inspires people to make certain choices or behave in the way they do. But I am intrigued when things seem so obvious to me and someone isn’t getting on-board. I like to hear and understand the story behind the why.

So tell me, what is YOUR why? And if your council lacks a particular service you’d like offered, have you ever stopped to ask them what their ‘why’ is?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (19)

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  1. Pip says:

    LOVE the article! I don’t think I had a ‘flash out of the blue’ moment, it was more like a snowball gathering pace rolling down the hill. Once one thing seemed like a good idea (like recycling), that led on to reusing, which led on refusing and so on. I don’t have a ‘thing’ to do it specifically for either, I think I just like the idea of things being good and unspoilt.

    I remember reading an article in the Guardian that was about parenting, where it said that you shouldn’t just teach your children that the most important thing is to be happy, but instead to be happy and to be kind. I think everyone should be operating by this, not just children!

    • Mrs Green says:

      Love the idea of your snowball gathering momentum, Pip 🙂 And another vote for leading by example – I like your thinking!

  2. Great post Rachelle. I have such a combination of reasons why I made all these changes in my life. The biggest reason being when I saw what was happening in our oceans, via blog posts. I thought of our love for camping at the beach, and my husbands fishing obsession and what will our environment be like in 10, 20, 50, 80 years time? And from a personal point of view, as a Christian, I feel like I am responsible to do my part for this amazing planet that God has created!? In my opinion, we are all responsible, and accountable, whether our governments/municipalities feel the same is beside the point, and so whilst we need to encourage them to change, we can’t blame them or use them as an excuse.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Thanks Colleen for sharing your motivation. I agree completely that we have to ‘Be the Change’ rather than wait for others to put legislation in place 🙂

  3. Christine says:

    It’s when you come to clear out a house after someone dies that you realise just how bad a lifetime of amassing stuff can be. A cupboard full of neatly ironed and refolded tissue paper for Xmas presents? Yeah well that cupboard held the clothes of two adults when emptied. Or why chairs with no springs were kept but never sat on as they had been replaced. Or sheets turned sides to middle but never used because there were newer ones in use. Not even used for cleaning rags. When you are on the charity shop counter and mother’s trinkets/nick knacks come in by the car load (often large cars) when the family is clearing out that you seriously look at your own life style. I mean all that dusting of things with no great value for the most part. Rarely do you find a collectible! You ever wondered what to do with 128 bowls trophies that had pride of place in a large display cabinet when none of the rest of the family was even vaguely interested in the game? My family aren’t going to be left in that situation. And that spreads out to all the “stuff” you don’t acquire over time. Saves a lot of waste dilemmas by not collecting stuff to be disposed of in the first place.

    • Mrs Green says:

      That’s such a moving comment, Christine and your thinking is not unlike mine. I remember helping an elderly friend move from her family home to a one bedroomed bungalow – there was SO much stuff. Most of it utterly useless; just things for the landfill. I look around my own home too and think one day someone will have to sort through it all – like you I’m determined to make things easy by shedding things as I go. Funny how our 20’s and 30’s seem to be about acquiring more and more, but then we there comes a point where you realise that it takes up space, time, energy and it all has to be maintained or dusted… There are better things to do in life, right?!

    • Having emptied my grandparents house and then helped my parents move, I understand this exactly. Nearly everything found a new home but there was a lot of items damaged beyond reuse due to damp and that saddened me. Use all you have, as anything you don’t is of use to another.

      • Mrs Green says:

        Hi Ailsa, thanks for joining in the conversation. It’s good you found homes for most of the things you had to handle; but you’re right – perhaps we all need to be better custodians of the things we have and frequently check whether we still need them or perhaps it’s time to pass them along to someone else…

  4. Tracey M says:

    Such a great post Mrs Green – thank you for putting things so eloquently and sharing your story. That must have been a scary thing to go through, but I love that you’ve used it to motivate yourself to making great changes and helping spread the word. I choose not to waste because, well, I can’t stand waste! There are so many people in the world living in poverty, struggling every day to make ends meet and so many other people just throwing things away without thought. Everything is precious and resources are running out. I want my Grandchildren to inherit a healthy planet too and one that can sustain them. I like to think before I get rid of anything whether someone else could use it – a homeless person, or a neighbour who needs exactly what I no longer need. Coats can be given to a women’s shelter, gardeners love all sorts of things that I might not want anymore. I truly believe one mans rubbish is another mans treasure and that a waste not, want not, attitude makes the world a better place.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Thanks Tracey; glad you enjoyed the post. It sounds like we share similar ideals and it’s great to see you thinking of others and how your items might be of benefit to them.

  5. Jackie Stevenson says:

    My reasons are maybe not as grand as others. I just feel sad that life is perhaps not as simple as when I was growing up. There was hardly any waste, everything was reused or repaired and not just thrown away to replace with a new one. While technology has it’s place, I feel our children are sadly missing out on the wonders of our planet and some skills are sadly being left behind too. Xxx

    • Mrs Green says:

      Jackie, I think your reasoning is sound. I feel a similar way – yes I embrace technology, but when I look at my daughter’s childhood compared to mine, well, it’s sad how reliant her generation are on technology for entertainment and status. And it concerns me greatly that this generation is generally quite distant from a meaningful relationship with nature and even other people.

  6. Solveig says:

    Hi Rachel,
    thank you for your article. A few years ago I was searching for an exam topic for my students and decided it to be ‘sustainability’. While doing research on the internet I came accross your Homepage and the one of Bea Johnson and I asked myself “can I also live without wasting anything?” Since then I made a lot of changes in our daily life. I’m also trying to live plastics free as far as possible.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Wow, I’m thrilled to be part of your story, Solveig; the aim of this site is to inspire others just to have a go at reducing waste, so I’m very happy to read your comment. Thanks for sharing and for being part of the solution!

  7. Inge says:

    Thanks for your post, great read indeed.

  8. packageless says:

    Great post here — I really do believe that the WHY to all of our actions is the most important. For myself, I have a background in packaging engineering, so going zero waste was a complete 180 from what I was trained to do. Sure, I’d love everyone to reap the benefits of going packageless, but I do understand that everyone has their own preferences and motivations: it is my hope that I can understand the why’s of everyone’s zero waste lifestyles to bridge the gap between ‘regular’ people vs. those who have a zero waste lifestyle, and reflect that the WHY should really apply to more people!

    • Mrs Green says:

      That’s quite some transformative journey you’ve taken then. I really admire you and I love that you want to get to the bottom of people’s preference and motivations because that’s where we can all work together to inspire.

  9. Miss Smith says:

    I have found many people online living a waste free lifestyle and I admire them so much..
    I loved your article and I do think it is so important that we all make changes in our lifestyle in this day and age…
    I have this list of things I want to achieve and do when I “grow up” (ironic as I am 27 years old). I really liked what you said about taking action today, not putting it off till tomorrow, or next year, or when I am settled, or when I am older… I want to take action now, but I don’t know what it is that I am lacking to take that step today… Perhaps it is laziness, complacency, or perhaps this overriding, unjustified fear that it won’t make a big difference
    … Any tips for me to get that first push into the right direction?

    • Mrs Green says:

      Hey; thanks for your comment. I really think we have to push away the ‘I can’t make a difference’ idea. If we all think like that, nothing gets done, right? So what if I said that if everyone in the UK recycled just ONE tin can that would be 60 million cans being kept out of landfill – then it feels like you’re having some impact 😉

      If laziness or complacency are going on for you then I’d take the baby steps approach. Pick one tiny thing, that doesn’t feel overwhelming or time consuming, and give it a go for a month. We started by using our own reusable bags. The next month we started using our kerbside collections. We started with easy things and got them under our belt before trying something else.

      Does that help?

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