"The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out."
Curiosity is what leads people to make changes.
Curiosity is what lead me to dive into sustainable living and from then-on, to question many things that I did simply because that was what I'd always done or because it was what everyone else was doing. My curiosity has led me to learn about more aspects of life and to constantly re-align myself with the knowledge I gain.
My curiosity lead me to do a lot of questioning and answering on my own - to research and read to find out what options were out there. Typically I was looking for information on websites, blogs, sometimes social media platforms and lately, in books. Whether it be confirming that there was a vegan option at a restaurant or finding out what the plant-based mylk used less water to produce - I have been hunkering down and doing the research on my own for the last few years, finding answers to my questions and re-aligning myself.
And I think that research is the necessary first step, because the answers are out there - we just need to find them. However, one thing that I didn't do much at first - but that I've started doing now, is simply asking the question to other people, in person.
The question will depend on the audience, and honestly, it can be hit or miss. Sometimes a coffee shop won't have oat mylk, a waiter won't know what can menu item is or can be vegan or a grocery store doesn't like their produce to go in bags other than their own, and on the spot, it can be awkward, it can feel like a confrontation and it can be downright discouraging.
Many times I've been discouraged, felt awkward, and wished that I'd just done research to avoid the situation. But lately, I've been encouraged by small and random acts of sustainability that were the answer or consequential reaction of a simple question I just decided to ask.
The first of these occasions came to be when my deodorant ran out. My mom got it for me on a trip to the West Coast, and I loved it. It is hands down the best natural deodorant that I've ever used, and I didn't want to just throw in the towel and use any other that I could get around here - because I'd tried 'em all and few worked, never mind as well as this one.
The downside? The container was made of plastic, a material which I am desperately trying to faze out of my purchases. I did some research, found other brands that used compostable containers and thought that maybe I could order it from them instead. But, knowing how few deodorants actually worked, I decided to reach out to the owner, to ask if she might have a solution.
And did she ever! Signi found deodorant tubes made from recycled and recyclable packaging, custom ordered them for me and within two weeks they were at my doorstep! The only 'downside'? I had to purchase enough for her to make it worthwhile to make this custom order - so I bought 15! The upsides? I told the story to a few friends and they want in on the best natural and zero-waste deodorant AND then, the best of all, Signi decided to offer this packaging on her website in perpetuity, so everyone can purchase her product without producing waste.
My second moments of surprise and delight are far less exciting, and came to be when I was taking a flight. As per usual, about 15 minutes into the flight the drink and snack cart started making its way down the aisle. My mom and I, both with a travel mug on hand, wondered if, instead of getting our coffee in the small single-use cup, we would be able to get it in our own mugs?
Although we both feel discomfort from potentially inconveniencing someone, we decided that there was no harm in asking the question, then seeing where it goes.
Turns out, asking the question was the best approach because not only did all flight attendants use our cups without hesitation, they filled our travels mug with far more coffee than a single disposable could hold, and also filled our water bottles. We avoided producing waste from packaging on our flights, and all we had to do was ask.