Last year for my birthday I celebrated by collecting every piece of trash I produced during the month of June and put it in a fancy 16oz pasta sauce jar (sans the sauce). This year, I upped the stakes and I traded in my 16oz jar for a 4oz jar that used to hold local honey. I also decided that I would give up meat for the month of June (and most likely forever) and I would give up alcohol for the month. I chose to go vegetarian for environmental and health reasons but the alcohol choice was a more personal one that I will address in a different post.
I was a week in to my zero waste month and wasn’t feeling as excited or energized as I had when I did it in 2018. Then I got a call from my friend Madeline.
Madeline and I met in 2017. I had just moved back to the DC area and was interviewing to work at an environmental non-profit. I was a little confused when I walked into the office wearing a blazer and fancy jewelry I have never worn again to this day, to find four casually dressed 20-somethings sitting on the floor like they owned the place. What I thought was going to be an office job turned out to be a canvassing gig. The interview went well and the next day I got a call from the Director. I was so excited when they invited me back to shadow one of their most experienced canvassers. That’s when I met Madeline.
Madeline is a smiler. She maintains direct eye contact throughout any and all conversations. She presents herself as agreeable in even the most contentious debates. These are important traits for any person but if you’ve never canvassed before, let me tell you- these are extremely important traits while knocking on doors. I, however, tend to come across as argumentative and prideful. That next week of shadowing Madeline changed my life forever.
Canvassing isn’t for everyone. The number of doors slammed in your face is only rivaled by the number of mosquito bites covering your legs and arms. But Madeline showed me that it takes one person, one door, one contact to make the entire day worth it. I remember those people fondly to this day; I even keep in touch with a few of the super stars that I met, holding a clipboard on their front stoop in the rain. Some of them are even my neighbors now.
I can credit Madeline for my transition into zero waste. She taught me that one person, one act, no matter how small can send ripples of change into the universe. And she believed in me and my capacity to engage people in the conversation. We may not be canvassing anymore (full-time, that is) but the value of sharing, educating and engaging with our community is greater than ever.
So back to that phone call I got a week into my zero waste month 2019- After a couple questions about menstrual cups and bidets, Madeline let me know that she’s decided to collect her waste for the month of June too. And just like that, I didn’t feel alone or lethargic. I felt invigorated, like my tribe just doubled in size (because it did)!
Thank you Madeline! You can catch her journey with zero waste on the blog this month and hopefully many more to come 😊