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The other day, I opened a new bar of soap from Third Day Naturals, and I set the wax paper wrapper aside to add to my compost.
That was a nice no-waste feeling, and it lasted for a brief moment.
But then I remembered the banana peel I’d thrown in the trash the night before (instead of the compost), and immediately, I had a, “Why bother?” moment about the soap wrapper.
The banana peel was certainly a bigger addition to my trash than the soap wrapper, so I felt like it was pointless to compost the soap wrapper.
(Of course, it wasn’t. Any compost is an improvement over trash!)
So, then I started thinking about all the other ways we do this (and I include myself here.):
- we get a late fee and immediately start thinking our money saving efforts are a waste
- we get takeout once and then give up on cooking for the rest of the week
- we waste a bunch of food and then feel like eating the new leftovers is a waste of time
- we buy a lunch for our kid and then think it’s a waste of time to sell something on eBay (Because the lunch was more expensive than what we earned from selling something)
(This way of thinking is super common when it comes to healthy eating/exercising too, but that’s not what this blog is about.)
Anyway, then I started thinking about how ridiculous this line of thinking would be if we applied it to other arenas.
For instance, let’s say you lose your temper with one of your kids in the morning. Would you then think it’s not worth bothering to be kind to them that afternoon?
Or if you were late to a meeting one week, would you think it’s not worth trying to be on time the next week?
If you burnt dinner one night, would you think that makes future dinner-cooking pointless?
If you forgot your mom’s birthday one year, would you not bother trying to remember the next year?
Accept that it’ll be imperfect. And keep on trying.
No one does things perfectly.
Every effort at improvement is going to be a mixture of successes and failures.
And a failure here and there most certainly does not erase a long line of successes.
Would it have been great if I composted my banana peel AND my soap wrapper?
But my composting efforts, even when a little spotty, have saved hundreds of pounds of waste from hitting the landfill.
I should definitely not give up over a banana peel!
Would it be great if I never got takeout?
I’d definitely have more money if I managed that.
But my cooking efforts have, over the years, saved us thousands upon thousands of dollars. A $15 pizza night here and there does not negate that.
Zoom out and look for a net improvment.
The important thing is that the net effect of your actions is an improvement.
So, when you feel like throwing in the towel and giving up, it might help to zoom out so that you can get a more accurate view.
In other words, stop focusing on the banana peel, and think about the zillions of buckets of produce peels you’ve tossed into the compost.