5 Ways to get past your Zero Waste Nerves

We were all there at the beginning of our journey. Some of us were there a long time ago, some of us recently, some of us go there all the time, and some of us, I’m sure, are there right now. We never forget the first time we ask for a Zero Waste Swap.

For me, it was at the bakery, trying to get bread in my own container. I was so nervous to ask, that the first time, I chickened out and got my partner to do it for me. He came back with the bread with no problems, and the next time, I was able to get it myself. Now we can’t all go out and find someone who is willing to do it for us, so here are 5 ways to get past your Zero Waste Nerves.

  1. Don’t Ask, Kindly Request – There is certainly a difference when you say “would you be able to put something in my own container please?” and “Could I please get 1 loaf of bread, just in here thanks” Once shows you are probably expecting the answer to be no, and they will probably follow suit, the other, exudes confidence, and suggests that while you are being polite and kind, you do this all the time and it should be no big deal.
  2. Come prepared – Take some extra time to ensure that your containers are clean, and the right size you want to purchase. The store you are requesting from is likely not a bulk store or even a store that is waste-conscious, so making it as easy for them as possible will make it as easy for you as possible.
  3. Be educated – Knowing your local laws when it comes to using your own containers, as well as potential store policies will help you have confidence when talking to staff. Some staff might not know their own store policy and will fall back on saying no as to not get in trouble. Knowing the laws and policies will allow you to inform them as to what they are allowed, and hopefully will pass your confidence on to them.
  4. Be kind – If you have ever worked in customer service, you know that sometimes a customer will not take no for an answer, to the point where they blame the staff. Remember that the 15-year-old behind the counter doesn’t make the rules, and is just trying to do their job. If they say no, even after you are confident and know your facts, kindly respect that, and try someone else.
  5. Start a conversation – sometimes, when staff is willing, having a conversation about their day, about current events, even about eco-friendly living can put everyone, including yourself at ease with the entire experience. People are people, and communication is simple, this is just like any other interaction, so don’t be afraid.

Starting out is scary, but I promise you, the more you practice, the easier it gets. If you have any tips or tricks, or stories about the first time you asked for a zero waste swap, let’s share in the comments!

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