When you look at Zero Waste Living on Instagram or promotional material, you will see perfectly lined mason jars on a tidy shelf with no plastic in sight. It looks beautiful, and I can see why people would want to be a part of it. But the “Fairly Local Vegan” said it best recently when she said the Zero Waste is dirty – and it is! It is messy, and complicated and constantly filled with difficult choices.
Right now, for example, there is a plastic packaged loaf of bread in my fridge, and I am so happy that I have it. This loaf of bread came from a family member’s freezer. When I was visiting their home, they gave it to me because they weren’t going to eat it. Now, I could refuse that piece of plastic and not let it into my home, which, technically, could be seen as following Zero Waste rules. I have even heard it argued, that by taking it, I am further encouraging people to purchase items in plastic.
But in my opinion, if I didn’t take that loaf of bread, then not only would the plastic end up in a landfill, but the bread would have too. Further to this, it stopped me from purchasing the ingredients to make my own bread, which saves resources in the long run. The piece of plastic might not fit into my perfect Zero Waste life, but ANY opportunity that I have to save something from the landfill, that is what I am ALWAYS going to do!
Furthermore, sometimes when I do visit the grocery store, if there are packaged items that are going to waste at closing time, sometimes I will buy them. Sure, if there are a lot of that item, the store might reduce their order and therefore it will prevent more packaging in the future, but sometimes, when there is a one-off item, eating it is just a better choice than it going to waste.
I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t get too stuck in the Zero Waste way. It is messy, and sometimes, we need to make imperfect choices for the greater good of the planet. Keep making the best choices you can, and always keep searching for ways to improve.
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