Establishing 6 Ground Rules | Road to Low Waste | Ch. 1
If you haven’t read my most recent blog post of my 2019 resolutions then you should probably back track and read that…
Read it? Great… let’s dive in a little more.
Where Did the Low Waste Idea Come From?
Let’s begin with how this topic even came to light for me. I’ve always considered myself a fairly good person when it came to how I managed my trash. I had reusable bags that I mostly used, but would forget every now and then. I would recycle plastic containers and clean them out if there was any food in them. I would (sometimes) not take a straw when the waiter would throw a pile on the table. So, I would say I was actually just average, and I’m sure most of you are too.
When I slowly changed my diet to be more pescetarian, I wound up learning more about a simple life. Which included minimalism (which we’ll talk about that later in another blog post) and zero waste. I got in a YouTube hole and found myself watching tons of videos on the zero-waste lifestyle. I followed new instagram accounts and continued to find and use resources to learn more. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a zero-waste lifestyle isn’t practical for me in this time of my life… but a low-waste lifestyle, now that I could definitely manage without feeling overwhelmed.
I could go into an entire research paper about the TRUTH about trash and how what we think we recycle actually isn’t being recycled. I could talk all day about all the toxins from plastic that go into our water and bodies. I could talk about how plastic and trash is literally killing this planet and the animals that live on it. …but a research paper would take ALL day and in the end, I’m too lazy. So instead, I’ll list some resources at the end of this blog post.
The point is, there was a lot I didn’t know and more I’m still learning. The biggest thing I’ve come to realize is that I can make a difference… even with small baby steps.
The Road to Low Waste will not be easy and will definitely take longer than I thought. It’s a big goal for 2019 and I’m ready to take it on, but figured I should establish some ground rules or expectations for myself and anyone else interested in low waste.
1. Using Up What I Have first
The hardest part about this is that I want to jump in all the way, right away. BUT I have TONS of plastic… Products and items that I spent money on and planned to use before I realized I wanted to do this whole lifestyle change. So, I’ve decided to work with what I got.
It would be just as wasteful to throw out the full roll of plastic wrap I just bought versus using it and throwing it out later. Just the same as it would be wasteful to throw out my new bottle of body wash now versus later when I’ve used it all up. I’m on a budget, so there’s no way I’m just wasting anything when I know I’ll use it. I’m going to work with everything I have and let it slowly run out. Once it’s gone, I’ll replace it with something else that isn’t plastic or re-use the container for something else.
2. Not Breaking the Bank
The other part that I’ve already found difficult, is wanting to spend money on aesthetically pleasing mason jars or a set of bamboo utensils (which I definitely want one day). I already bought some reusable produce bags and I honestly LOVE all the other cool things to replace other plastic things. Seriously, there are so many amazing tools to be zero waste, but it’s not all essential… at least not yet. So while brand new mason jars look great, I know there are other ways.
First, I can just reuse what I’ve already bought and so far, that’s been working out well! I’ve already cleaned out several glass jars from jam, salsa, etc., and been reusing them for lunches or buying in bulk. Plus I have a ton of stuff that I can continue to utilize, like my reusable grocery bags and my reusable water bottles.
Second, I can get things that are second hand. Nothing needs to be brand spanking new… and by shopping 2nd hand, I won’t contribute to any new waste going to landfills. Instead, I can get a great deal on things that I’m searching for without paying a crazy price. The best part is that most second hand items won’t come in packaging so yay for another win!!
3. Not Beating Myself Up
Another thing I need to consider is the simple fact that I’m human and am therefore NOT perfect. I know I’m going to make mistakes along the way… I’ll forget an empty container and have to take the leftovers in a plastic box. I’ll forget my water bottle at yoga and have to buy a plastic one. I’ll forget my utensil set and need a plastic fork and knife. I’m expecting mistakes and have already made PLENTY. In fact, I’ve been conscious about being low-waste since the beginning of December, but when I went grocery shopping on my way home from MN I used plastic utensils and bought produce packaged in plastic.
Mistakes happen and will continue to happen. However, I think it’s important to not beat myself up about it and know that I will continue to try, and that’s what matters.
4. Being Practical
While I’m not going to try hard, I think I also need to recognize that being low-waste isn’t always practical. Sometimes there will be things that are out of my control. Or I’ll be in a pickle and need something that is packaged in plastic. Unfortunately, in order to be waste-free we need to have access to things that don’t come with waste. Not all situations will be perfect or allow for it, and in the end I gotta do what I gotta do. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which means that before anyone can even think about being low-waste, they need to meet their physiological and safety needs like shelter, food, clothing, health and employment. So if I’m in a situation where I need food and there isn’t an option for something waste-free, then I will still use it. This girls gotta eat…
5. not sacrificing everything I love
In the very beginning of considering zero-waste, all I could do was look around and see tons of things that I love that only comes in fricken plastic. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed with the idea that I’d have to get rid of everything. Then I also realized that that’s why a LOW-waste lifestyle instead of a zero-waste lifestyle would be better for me, because there are still a few things I’m not ready to part with AND it’s not like I’m not trying at all. 80% effort is better than none.
Seriously though… There will be things that I love but am also content with parting with (once they run out), like my beauty products, almond milk (I can make my own) and collection of stickers (because scrapbooking is getting too complicated). On the other hand, there are things I’m seriously obsessed with and that I don’t see myself parting with at al. Things like my polaroids and polaroid camera, my vinyls or some of my favorite nutrition products. I will continue to try to be more waste-free, but also understand that there are things that I still love and will continue to love and use.
6. Embracing the Long Road Ahead
This is going to take SO much time… months, probably years before I’ve gotten rid of all of my plastic belongings. So while this journey will be a slow one, I want to embrace it and know that I’m still doing everything that I need to do. Goals take time; there’s no magical pill to solve anything. So I need to remind myself that just because I’m moving slow, doesn’t mean I’m not moving at all.
There you have it. My 6 ground rules as I take on my Road to Low Waste. Hopefully this inspires you to simply think about what you purchase and throw away. No need to be zero-waste all of a sudden, but it’s always good to be more mindful
P.S. As promised, here are some resources I have used to learn about the zero and low waste lifestyles.