If you’ve already started to make changes to your lifestyle and are heading toward a more eco-conscious or eco-friendly existence, then you may have already experienced a few ‘trial and error’ moments.
First of all, one of the first lessons on the sustainability path is not to just go crazy and replace perfectly working items for those that are plastic-free or sustainable, just because you want to make a statement about your new-found zero waste lifestyle. If you’ve got Tupperware in your cupboard, then damn well use that stuff until it’s no longer fit for purpose. Only when you’ve exhausted all available items should you even consider swapping to zero waste solutions.
However, let’s say you’re a little way down the line and you’ve made space for some new products to enter your sustainable life, but, on trying them out you have to admit (even if only to yourself) that they are not quite up to the task. It happens. And when it happens, what should we do?
Well first of all, don’t beat yourself up! You’re trying your hardest to do the right thing. You’ve spent time and no doubt considerable money on a new product that you think will be the answer to your zero waste dreams, but it just isn’t working out. Let’s see what you can do about it…
Have you given it enough time?
When it comes to changing a daily product that you’ve spent years getting used to, like cosmetic products such as shampoo, toothpaste or body cream, it is bound to take time to adjust to something entirely different. With solid shampoo it is well documented that most people need to go through a period of adjustment while your hair and body adjust to the new regime of natural oils and butters. This adjustment time can vary wildly from person to person and in some it will be two weeks while others might take six months. Not only is it an adjustment to the product itself but also the way it’s used. If you’re used to squirting liquid shampoo onto your hair and getting a generous lather, but now you have to work at getting the right technique to generate lather from a solid shampoo, then it will take time to make that new habit feel normal. This can apply to simple things like wax wraps replacing cling film or loofah pads replacing wash up sponges but it will take time and you need to allow a decent adjustment period for all the changes you might be making.
Could someone else benefit from the product?
A large part of our journeys to zero waste or our moves toward a more sustainable lifestyle become completely fulfilling when we tell others about it and they start to make changes too. It only takes one conversation to start a ripple effect where suddenly all your peer group are reporting back to you on their eco finds or zero waste wins! Given that it’s highly possible you have mentioned your eco warrior endeavours to a few people already, could you pass the new product on to one of them? What doesn’t work for you might be the perfect solution for someone else. You might be out of pocket but if it’s a generous gift then tell the beneficiary it is their early birthday present and that you’re trying to be a responsible consumer so won’t be getting them something new and shiny when their birthday (or Christmas) does come round.
Should you try something else?
If you’ve given it enough time and you’ve managed to pass on the unhelpful zero waste or sustainable item to a friend, colleague, dogsitter, neighbour etc. in a responsible way with nothing ending up in the bin, then maybe it’s time to try again. Perhaps there is another product out there better suited to your hair type, skin type, washing up type (assuming there is such a thing!) or general needs. The market for eco products across the world is growing by the day and with a little time and a bit more research, you’re bound to find another product to try. If you’re going to look for new eco solutions to your needs, try to make sure you shop responsibly and buy from small, local businesses with as little carbon footprint as you can.
Get in touch with the supplier
If something hasn’t worked out for you, for whatever reason, do get in touch with the people you bought from in the first place. Giving your feedback is vital, especially for small businesses trying to make their mark in the eco marketplace. Even if your feedback might be negative, any shop/store/producer will be keen to hear from you. You might find they have some tips or tricks to help you use the product better or in a more effective way. They might also stock an alternative you can try, and better still, they might offer you a discount for shopping with them again. Turn your bad experience into a good one by getting in touch with the supplier for advice. Even better if you can tag them in a post, comment (kindly) on one of their posts or simply send them a message via email or social media. All contact will be appreciated, especially if it’s a small local business who can offer you another eco solution.
If all else fails…
Well what happens here depends on the product and the situation of course, but if you find you’ve exhausted all eco avenues and have tried your hardest to replace a product and it’s really not worked out for you, then sometimes we have to accept that some of the eco products on the market today just don’t live up to our less eco-friendly staples. You might find that you have to return to the dreaded plastic bottle (gasp!) or the dreaded tube of classic toothpaste or the shop-bought washing up liquid or dishwasher tabs just one more time……. We don’t recommend you do this for long though! But we have to give ourselves a break and know that every step we take on our eco journey or our quest to a more sustainable lifestyle is a step in the right direction. If your bathroom is plastic free but you can’t give up your washing up sponge or if you’ve got top marks in the kitchen but find natural toothpaste makes you want to heave then just take it one step at a time and know that you’re probably doing better than most on the grand scheme of things.
Overall, the message is to do what you can and tell others (and your suppliers) about your zero waste wins and little by little those changes that are harder to make, will come to you in time. Keep going eco warriors, we’ve got your back and think you’re doing great.
Are there any eco products you’re struggling with? Let us know in the comments!