Very few of us will grow all our own food, but maybe we can grow some lettuce and radishes, or buy some local vegetables at the farmer’s market. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

DOWN TO EARTH: Imperfectly perfect through small, consistent lifestyle changes

It is more about trying to do the best you can most of the time

Jenny Howell

Special to the Tribune

Recently the owner of a new refillery in Kamloops: ‘Footprints’ was interviewed on the radio.

A refillery is a store that aims to reduce single use plastics by allowing you to bring your own reusable containers for all their products — from food products to soaps.

While I was interested in hearing about her store, I was more interested in something she said that I have often felt too but sometimes hesitate to say out loud. When asked about aiming for zero waste and she said that is not her purpose, because for most people that is not doable. It is more about trying to do the best you can most of the time.

There are many inspirational people out there who set very high standards for the rest of us to follow in every field, and that applies equally to conservation issues. We need those people, because they are the leaders that help the world change. However, most of us can’t and won’t become those people.

We are juggling some combination of kids/jobs/elderly parents/financial and health issues, just about keeping our heads above water and now we get a pandemic thrown in on top of normal life. So growing all our own food, never using plastic bags again or biking everywhere to ‘save the planet’ might be something to strive for, but realistically all of us are not going to get there.

I also feel that there is a degree of learned helplessness that creeps into environmental issues; i.e. ‘I know I am supposed to do all these things that I won’t actually do so why bother doing anything?’ Most of us are bad at absolutes and giving things up; diets have a bad track record and 80 per cent of us ditch our New Year’s resolutions within two weeks. However, doing something realistic that then becomes a new habit is much better than doing nothing at all and may quietly start the process to further lifestyle change.

Very few of us will grow all our own food, but maybe we can grow some lettuce and radishes, or buy some local vegetables at the farmer’s market. Clothing choices have a big impact on your ecological footprint. Knowing that, some will choose to never buy new clothes again; but others will choose to buy some high-quality long-lasting clothes or some combination of new and used. We know we should avoid single use plastics; but there will inevitably be occasional times you forget your reusable bags and take a plastic one from the store. Biking most of the time may work in cities, but it is just not an option for many of us in the Cariboo; instead we can choose fuel efficient cars, car share and reduce unnecessary trips.

Deep down, most of us realize there is more to effectively slowing climate change than our own individual actions, but we won’t get to those bigger changes until enough people understand the links between human activities and climate change. Every small, imperfect and inconsistent lifestyle change you can make to reduce your impact on the planet helps deepen that understanding and increases the chances of future broader societal change.

READ MORE: FOREST INK: Controlling knapweed one plant at a time

Waste Wise tip: Reusable bags are back! Most stores are now accepting reusable bags again, so dig them out and take them with you next time you shop.

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at or visit the website at

Jenny Howell is the water wise instructor and the executive director of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.

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Jenny Howell is the water wise instructor and the executive director of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society. (Photo submitted)

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