There comes a point in every zero waster’s journey when their self critic chimes in. When the voice inside your head tells you that you are failing at zero waste because you are still using some plastic and still producing some trash and there’s no way you’ll ever have an instagram-worthy mason jar of trash.
It can be both inspiring and discouraging when you scroll through people’s social media feeds filled with beautiful pictures of their plastic-free lifestyle. But, as many zero wasters will tell you, a 100% plastic-free, trash free lifestyle isn’t truly attainable. Zero waste is a goal, but it’s not a about about being perfect. So if you’re on the journey to zero waste, take a deep breath and remember, you’re going to produce some trash...and it’s ok!
I myself am guilty of highlighting the beautifully curated aspects of my zero waste lifestyle, while minimizing the areas where I produce trash. Perhaps I’m somewhat ashamed, or perhaps I’m worried that others will judge me, but I try to not be too hard on myself and celebrate the wins. When I think back to my former, trashy lifestyle and how far I’ve come, there’s a lot to be proud of. I’ve come a long way and our family of three (four including our dachshund Lola) produces very little trash.
Today, I want to share the areas of my life where I still use plastic to let you know that you’re not alone. Yes, I’d like to find better alternatives. But I’m ok with where I’m at and I strive to be a little better everyday. If I had a mantra for zero waste, it would be “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
So here they are, a few things I still buy in plastic since going zero waste:
Medicine: Medicine, it’s important stuff. I think of myself as a pretty earthy, holistic mama and try to avoid Western medicine whenever possible. But sometimes I get bad headaches and need Advil. Or I feel myself coming down with a cold and need supplements. During my pregnancy, I tried to buy most of my vitamins in glass jars, but there were a few that came in plastic ones. To me, health comes first in my hierarchy of needs before zero waste.
Contact Lenses: I found out I had bad eyesight in 6th grade Math when I couldn’t read the whiteboard. I mostly wore contacts through my adolescence up until going zero waste. I’ve switched to primary wearing glasses, but I still like to have some contacts around for special occasions and when I want to dress up. Luckily the plastic container and foil lid they come in are both recyclable.
Gluten-Free Flour: While I’m not a celiac, I feel better when I’m not eating wheat. And, I LOVE to bake. I have found gf flour in bulk at Rainbow Foods, but it’s not my favorite brand. I love Cup4Cup created by Thomas Keller because I think it most resembles regular all-purpose flour and it’s excellent for making pizzas and baked goods. It comes in a plastic bag and I did contact the manufacturer to see if they might offer it in paper in the future. No dice. I take the plastic package when I’m done, rinse it and recycle it at our local grocery store plastic drop-off.
Tortillas: My husband and I REALLY love tacos. We make them at least once a week and they’re awesome for a impromptu dinner. We buy the most amazing corn tortillas at our weekly farmer’s market, but unfortunately, they’re wrapped in plastic. We did ask the woman if there’s any way she could carry some without plastic so we could take them home in our own container. She wasn’t about it. We did buy a tortilla press and plan to try making our own. But in a pinch, I’d happily buy the farmer’s market tortillas.
Cheese (sometimes): I’m a vegetarian, but I still love to eat cheese. We try to buy our most of our cheese package-free in a f=glass conatiner and are able to do so for the most part at our local Whole Foods. Unfortunately, some cheeses come wrapped in plastic, such as goat cheese. I dream of us having access to a package-free fromagerie, like they have at the French markets. Unfortunately, our society is not there yet.
So, there it is. My less than perfect plastic purchases that don't fit into my "zero waste" lifestyle. I want to continue to be open about ways that I create waste, because I think it offers a more honest and realistic look at the journey to zero waste, and hopefully inspires others to do the same. What are some areas that you still struggle with on the journey to zero waste?