Why our small changes have a big impact in the long run

Updated: May 18, 2020

If you've watched any of my YouTube videos until the end, you'll notice my outro quote is "your small changes have a big impact in the long run." Today, I wanted to explain why I believe in that.

This is because this quote is what inspired me to go zero waste and what I think will help you go zero waste as well. If you don’t know what zero waste is, you can check out this video to learn more about what that term even means and why we should all be striving for it.

But, long explanation short, throwing the term zero waste at people can make them overwhelmed. It might scare people away and never get them to try living more sustainably. That is why I try to use the phrase low waste or just sustainable living as much as possible. Those terms seem a lot more attainable. After all, is there anyone out there who really produces zero waste?

Instead, I focus on the big picture. I don’t care if one person has all of their trash from 5 years in one Mason jar. Instead, I care if 1 million people are quitting single use plastic or going vegan or any other small-ish changes.

I don’t think about how many bags I save in one grocery trip, I think about how many I will save in my lifetime and how that number can be multiplied the more and more people I encourage to quit. I don’t think about how much I save in emissions by biking to work one day, I think about how much I save in emissions the whole year form biking, buying locally, shopping second hand versus buying new, and so forth. You get the idea, look at the bigger picture.

Another reason that this became my “catch phrase” is because I know people can think that their actions are meaningless. People often try to make me feel this way too. But there is power behind our actions. If I alone can reduce say 365 water bottles a year and I inspire 10 people to do the same, that is 3,650 water bottles a year. Say they also each inspire 10 people to make the change. That is then is 36,500. That number only keeps growing the more you spread awareness and encourage others.

This is what I mean when I say our small changes have a big impact in the long run. It is so simple for me to use a water filter and a reusable bottle. It seems so insignificant every day I do it, but when I put it into this perspective, it really helps me realize what a huge impact it makes.

Every year, I not only dispose of roughly 365 bottles, but I save those bottles from even being created in the first place. I reduce the amount of emissions it takes to extract the oil, process it into the bottles, and have it shipped to my store. Don’t just look at the physical bottle itself, but how wasteful it’s life cycle is and how much you are also reducing that way.

It can also be discouraging to discover the zero waste movement and want to be a part of it, but you can’t do all those things yet. It’s hard to see people with a trash jar and shopping in bulk and making their own toothpaste and deodorant and all these things that make them seem like pros. But, they started where you are today or where you were on your first day. They started with only using a reusable water bottle and shopping bags and advanced more and more every day.

I still don't even consider myself a pro. I still can't bulk shop, I still have to fly, and I still buy single-use items sometimes. This phrase helps me to keep going as well.

It's important to realize that you are making a difference too. Your little changes add up throughout the years and if you encourage others they keep getting multiplied and multiplied. It is important to remember this to help you keep going with your small changes. Eventually, you will be doing so many small changes that it will become normal, easy, and before you know it, you were that person you looked up to when you first joined the movement.

It gives me so much joy when someone asks me a question like “where can I buy produce bags” or “what brand of reusable zipper bags do you recommend.” It might seem insignificant to you, but hearing that I encouraged people to even take one small step means the world to me.

So, make some small changes today. Stay tuned for a video with 100+ ways to live sustainably every day and they’re all very simple. But for now, here is a sneak peek and a few ways that you can reduce your waste without changing much about your life. Be sure to check out all of my blog posts linked below. I have at least three separate posts about how living low waste doesn’t mean you have to change your whole life and that it can be really simple:

  • Get a reusable water bottle and filter

  • Recycle

  • When shopping, avoid plastic packaging and try to get cardboard, metal, glass, or even package-less

  • Shop second hand

  • Donate old items instead of throw away

  • Turn off the lights when there is daylight

  • Turn off the water when brushing teeth, shaving, doing dishes, etc

And so much more. There are so many small steps you can make every single day towards living a more sustainable life. We don’t need 100 people doing zero waste perfectly, we need one million people doing zero waste imperfectly.

Click here for more beginner tips

Click here for more intermediate tips

Click here for more advanced tips

And click here for bonus tips!

Thanks for reading! One of the biggest things we can do is inspire and educate others.

Emma :)

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Hey there! Thanks for stopping by! 

My name is Emma. I am a 20-year-old new to this sustainable lifestyle. I am here to give you my tips as I learn them and help beginners begin their sustainable life...


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