Zero-Waste Musings

I’m not a huge Netflix watcher.

I know, I know, bad millennial. But I went so long hating it because it aided in the demise of my beloved Blockbuster that even after I started sharing accounts with my roommates or my boyfriend I usually forget it’s there. But just like everyone else, when I do remember I have access to Netflix, I binge. Sometimes it’s on 90s films; others it’s on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Last week, it was on documentaries. The first one I chose was called Plastic Paradise, which I knew would get me all riled up as I have also recently discovered the Zero-Waste movement (all thanks to giving up plastic for Lent). What I did not expect after watching that documentary was that I would decide that Zero-Waste was not for me.

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Zero-Waste is extremely admirable, and I want to emulate a lot of those practices. However, I find some aspects of Zero-Waste limiting. My support for other platforms near and dear to my heart, buying locally and buying Fair Trade, would be minimized to almost nothing. For example, zero waste means only buying new clothing if you need it. I live near two large thrift stores and a few consignment shops and am already predominantly a thrift store junkie to begin with, so that’s no biggie. But if I never buy anything new, I can’t buy Fair Trade or buy anything from a small boutique in my local downtown. To me, completely eliminating my “new” consumerism just puts me in my own bubble without actively affecting the way shopping is done. I want to buy new things from Fair Trade certified companies and know my money is going towards benefits and job protection and community strengthening. I want to buy new things from independent businesses and support my neighbors and my local economy. I don’t want to section myself off from part of the world. I want to be in it working towards change without withdrawing my support.

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Wholesome! is an organic and fair trade sweeteners company. Support them because clearly they’re awesome.

 

We are all two sides of the same coin, Fair Trade, Support Local, Zero Waste. We all want to make the world a better place.

It’s also just not always feasible depending on where you live. I looked up policies on taring jars and bags at my local grocery store, but none of them allow it; unpackaged produce has to be put in their plastic bags for “sanitary reasons” (ridiculous). The farmer’s market is always an option, but the closest farmer’s market that is open year-round is a little over an hour away from my house and about two hours away  from my job (I often work Saturdays), so I couldn’t depend on consistently being able to go to the farmer’s market from January through April (or December through April depending on how harsh or mild the beginning of winter is).

 

And on a less significant and more semantics note, I always see zero waste bloggers getting a certain amount of their bulk products out of plastic dispensers. I don’t have a problem with it since it’s in bulk and being refilled, I imagine, but it annoys me a little bit that no one even brings it up, especially the ones who are hardcore all plastic-is-terrible-and-full-of-cancer-causing-chemicals. Like, dude, that Dr. Bronner’s you got has been marinating in it.

And finally, I whole-heartedly believe in this quote:

“Just to be clear, plastic is not evil. But it’s what we do with it, how much we produce of it, and how we dispose of it that makes all the difference. It’s the plastic that was made to last forever but designed to be used once. That is the biggest problem.”

– Angela Sun, Plastic Paradise

All of that said, I admire so much of the Zero-Waste lifestyle. The rate at which we use disposables is insane, and we just cannot take for granted that the Earth can continue to keep this up without the consequences rapidly increasing as well. And just because I don’t think that 100% Zero-Waste is not achievable based on locale and is limiting in terms of what you can support does not mean I believe we should not all do our part at reducing the amount of waste we produce.

I’m trying not to overload myself at once with how I can be less wasteful and precycle by reusing and reducing, but I’m naturally obsessive, passionate, and goal oriented. Here’s what I’ve already started doing since Lent (besides carrying canvas totes, which I’ve been doing since 2012):

  • Carrying reusable cups. One day last year it hit me that I should start carrying my plastic tumbler with me to save money from buying a water bottle everywhere I went, and it really made me realize how wasteful I had been before. Water is free! The issue with my tumbler though was that I couldn’t just dump it in my purse. After months of perusing the internet for water bottles made of recycled materials (because why recycle if you aren’t going to complete the cycle by buying products from recycled materials?) I finally found Liberty Bottles. They are made from recycled aluminum and are made here in the USA! To go coffee cups I have been carrying much longer. That makes it almost crazy to me how I never thought before to get my orders at coffee shops in my to-go cup. I bought this KeepCup recently because I don’t like how plastic makes my coffee taste (I know, I know, bougie) and it’s 12 oz, which is the most I ever get. My liberty bottle design is called Strive from their Artist collection and has the sport top, and my KeepCup is Espresso from the Brew Cork Edition
  • Making my own snacks. I live on the road, so I eat a lot of Lunabars and Kind Bars and Skinny Pop. Even on sale, these can really add up, especially during audition season. If I eat a bar and a Skinny Pop bag each day for a week, that’s fourteen wrappers $15 just on between meal snacks. Making my own saves me money and packaging and surprisingly tastes great. I pack both in glass jars I’ve saved from jellies or pasta sauce, and I’m ready to go.
  • No more plastic loofahs! Just like I have been searching for months to find the perfect water bottle, I searched for months to find the perfect loofah replacement. I switched from shower gels to soaps about a year ago, maybe longer, but I used a drawstring soap loofah to suds it up because the beauty industry has left me always wanting suds even if that isn’t important. This fold over top soap sack from Juniperseed Mercantile is the best one I’ve found (don’t use those hemp bags on amazon.com; they smell), and I am so glad my search is over since I can just throw this guy in the washing machine. I am going to sew one of my old ribbons on it so that I can hang it like a loofah, and I am good to go. (I haven’t used the cotton pads featured in this photo, but I spend like $6 for 30 make up wipes because so many of them burn my face; I’ll update if the cotton pads and jojoba oil work for me as a sufficient remover)

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And these are my goals in the future:

  • Use produce bags (purchased and ready for opening day of the farmer’s market!)
  • Always carrying one of my (re)zip bags with me
  • No more disposable straws. I just put one in my purse the other day. Now I just need to remember I have it.
  • Try shampoo bars. My current shampoo has almost the same ingredients as your standard shea butter shampoo bar anyway.
  • Use cloth napkins. I go through SO many napkins/paper towels a day. I know they will eventually degrade, but it would save me a few bucks. And I’m a pretty messy person anyway, so I probably would benefit from the durability of a cloth napkin.

This is probably the rambliest blog post I have ever written, but I’ve had so many opinions and feelings jumbled up in my mind. If you have lots of opinions and feelings too, comment below! This is the newest step in my smarter and more ethical consumer journey, so I am always down for productive opinion sharing, and overall conversation.

– T

*Disclaimer: None of the companies mentioned in this post are paying me. These are all my opinions, and everything was purchased on my artist’s dollar. If they wanted to pay me, though, I wouldn’t be the least bit upset.

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