We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.

– Anne-Marie Bonneau, Zero-Waste Chef

Reducing waste has become an important goal for many people as part of a low-impact lifestyle. But should we be striving for zero-waste? It’s part of the human condition to strive for perfection because we always want more. But it’s important to recognize that perfection isn’t always attainable or necessary when it comes to waste reduction. Embracing imperfection can be a more realistic and sustainable approach.

Here’s 4 reasons why.

Small steps lead to big changes

One of the most important aspects of waste reduction is understanding that every small action counts. Instead of being discouraged by the size of the waste problem, it’s crucial to remember that even the smallest effort can make a significant impact over time. Whether it’s using a reusable water bottle or opting to buy a few things at a bulk store, these seemingly minor changes can collectively result in substantial waste reduction. Imperfection in waste reduction allows us to take those small steps without feeling overwhelmed.

We learn from our mistakes

Being imperfect leaves room for learning. If we allow ourselves to make mistakes, we can learn from them, refine the way we are approaching the problem and become better at reducing waste. Joining waste reduction communities is a great way to learn and share wins.

Avoiding perfection paralysis

The pursuit of perfection can often lead to paralysis. When we set unrealistically high standards for ourselves, we can become overwhelmed by the fear of failure and can end up doing nothing at all. Or berating ourselves if we take a wrong step. Embracing imperfection frees us, allowing us to take action without putting so much pressure on ourselves. If we accept that there will be bad days when we end up buying something we wished we hadn’t, we will become more resilient and motivated to carry on.  

Inspiring others

Perfection can be intimidating and discouraging to those who are just beginning their waste reduction journey. By embracing our imperfections, we create an inclusive environment where others feel encouraged to join in the effort. Sharing our own experiences and challenges can inspire others. And if we include our imperfections, we humanise the process. This makes it relatable and achievable for a wider audience.

Summing up

While striving for perfection in waste reduction may seem ideal, it is not always practical or sustainable. Embracing imperfection enables small steps that lead to significant change. By learning from our mistakes, avoiding paralysis, and inspiring others, we create a more inclusive and impactful movement towards a less wasteful future.

So let’s celebrate our imperfections!