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What I Really Should Have Said…

Last Saturday I was the speaker at Plastic Free July‘s event here in Perth, talking about my personal journey in living with less plastic, what I’d learned and offering tips for people trying their first Plastic Free July. There was a great turnout, with plenty of newbies underway in their first Plastic Free July year, but also people who took part last year and the year before.

I love being able to talk to people about plastic-free living. I love getting out into the community, getting to know people, make real life connections and also learn and be challenged – because that’s what makes life so interesting and enjoyable!

You’d think then, that if somebody asked me why I wanted to work in waste education I’d be able to reel off the reasons. I’d be able to articulate exactly why it makes my heart sing. I’d be able to express the passion that I have for sharing not only my story, but also what I’ve learned along the way. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? As it turns out  though, when asked this question earlier today, I was only able to mumble something rather vague about being passionate about waste.

The thing is, everyone’s passionate. It’s the thing to be. People are passionate about what coffee they order in the morning. Passionate about their football team colours. Type “passionate about” in Google and the drop-down field comes up with baking, the hospitality industry, teaching, education, travel… It’s a great word, it sounds far better than “interested in” or “really like”, but it doesn’t really tell the listener anything.

I am passionate about waste. But what does that really mean? What am I failing to express with that statement?

When I talk about passion, I mean the kind of passion that gets you fired up. When I talk about waste, I become really enthusiastic, I tend to talk far too quickly and flail my arms about the place in an excited manner. The kind of passion that burns even when you’re tired or feeling lazy. I never tire of talking about waste, thinking of ways to reduce waste, wanting to discuss the topic with others, and share ideas. When it comes to waste, I’m constantly re-inspired by the things I read or see or hear.

When I talk about waste, what I really mean is reducing waste. Whilst verge collections or people buying takeaway coffee when they intend to dine in might also stir my emotions (!), my passion lies with reducing my own waste, and inspiring others to do the same. Learning ways to reduce waste, and sharing what I’ve learned, be it through talks, or writing, or on social media. Providing support and encouragement to those just starting out, and helping others onto the next part of their journey.

It doesn’t end with learning and sharing, though. What really matters to me is inspiring others to make changes. Offering alternatives and sharing solutions is part of that, but the most important thing is connecting with others. Talking to people. Getting out there into the real world, having conversations, finding out what’s important to people and helping them find ways to reduce waste that fit with their lifestyles. I’ve talked about the ripple effect before and that’s the kind of change I love being a part of. Planting a seed, or an idea, and letting it grow with someone new. It’s so satisfying to see that happen, and it makes everything worthwhile.

That’s why I’d love to work in waste education. I want to connect with others, to inspire, encourage, share and learn. I want to help people make positive changes to their lives, and reduce their waste in the process. Full lives and empty bins.

That wasn’t what I said today. I do find it much easier to get my thoughts on paper before I need to express them! Now I’ve had the chance to think about it a little more, I’ve managed to articulate what I’d have liked to say.

When I say I’m passionate about waste, this isn’t what I said, but it’s what I meant. Just for the record ; )

Now I want to hear from you! What are you passionate about? What get’s you really fired up and why? How does this passion make you feel? How would you express this – not just in words, but also your actions? I’d love to know more so and hear your thoughts so please leave a comment below!

A new beginning…

Today I re-join the employed ranks of the world. I’m starting a new job. Not only that, but it’s a full-time job. It was never my intention to be unemployed for so long (since April this year). Way back then, I was feeling pretty optimistic about my future work plans. I had some exciting work and freelance opportunities I was hoping would come to fruition, but one by one, they fell by the wayside. I dreamed about setting up my own sustainability education business (something I’d still love to do), but these things take time, money…and, seemingly, a lot more confidence than I can muster.

It was time to find a job.

The last two weeks have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, if I’m honest. I find job applications stressful, interviews difficult and the waiting game frustrating. The job I applied for (and got) fits with my values and ethos (I’m not about to start working for the big-chain supermarkets!), but whilst I’m really pleased I found this job, at first I felt like I’d failed. I want so much to be more involved with the sustainability movement, not less. Full-time employment is going to be a bit of a culture shock, particularly with the reduced amount of free time I’ll have. I even wondered whether it was time to give up the blog, accept that I’d failed at what I wanted to do, and move on. And probably go shopping to make myself feel better. (About the shopping – just kidding! : p)

Fortunately I have friends who are able to talk sense. One pointed out that far more people want to work in the sustainability industry than there are jobs for; and that starting your own business is hard, plus it takes time. Another said “Who do you have to be in the sustainability industry to make a difference? You don’t!”

Oh yeah!

Isn’t that what I’m always talking about on the blog – how small everyday actions actually make a real difference, and lead to big changes?!

Another friend (goodness, I do keep the company of some wise people) reminded me of the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it”. I’m going to have a lot less free time, but hopefully I will be more motivated to use that free time far more wisely. When the days merge into one another and there’s no timelines or deadlines, it’s easy to put things off. There is always tomorrow.

So whilst it’s going to be a huge shift for me, I’m realising that it doesn’t mean I’ve failed, or that I’m going backwards. I’m still going in the direction I want to go in, just maybe more slowly than I’d imagined. But isn’t that often the way? The reality doesn’t always (if ever) match up to how we think things will be. Whilst I love the idea of not needing money and being self-sufficient, let’s be real here. I am not anywhere near that, and money is pretty useful for things like food and rent! Whilst I’m not quite sure what the next year will look like yet for me, the good news in the blog is staying. I hope you’re pleased! : )