I disagree with the term “Zero-Waste.”

Let me be clear – that title does NOT say I disagree with the zero-waste movement. Quite the contrary. It says I disagree with the term “zero-waste.”

Why? Because it is near impossible to achieve without being an extremeist. And extremism is not what I promote. It doesn’t work for me. It may not work for you.

Here’s the thing – I believe our world and environment and climate would be better if everyone did what they could, imperfectly. Because people generally think if they can’t do something perfectly than why bother? But everyone doing something imperfectly would have a far greater positive impact!

So, back to the term zero-waste, I think “low-waste” would feel more achievable.

Low-waste thinking gives flexibility and allowances for life’s mishaps and also gives room to grow, change and experiment. It can look different for everyone.

There are places in my life where I excel at low-waste:

  • Utilizing a refillery for my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand/body lotion, dish detergent, dishwasher tabs.
  • Using laundry strips and buying a year’s worth at a time – that’s one cardboard box for recycling per year. (And truly, the strips last me longer than a year, so that’s actually longer than year for the waste.)
  • I drive an electric-hybrid car. My hydro bill only went up $11/month and my gas bill dropped by hundreds.
  • I use reusable bags for my lunches.
  • I use a glass refillable water bottle daily.
  • My toothbrush is bamboo and compostable when I’m done with it.
  • My deodorant comes in a tin that is returnable to my refillery to be reused.
  • I compost food waste.
  • I use reusable shopping bags. I do occassionally forget the bags in my car, then I bring the items to my car to pack them. I also use reusable produce bags.
  • I use unpapertowel, which I make myself. We still have papertowel in the house, but it’s only used for gross pick-ups. (We have pets.) I also use rags for house cleaning and crocheted kitchen wash cloths. All of it, wash and re-use.
  • I use a zero-waste shave bar instead of a can of foam.

There are places in my life where I still need to work at it:

  • Where as our garbage can waste is greatly reduced, we still have quite a bit of recycleables. I’d like to reduce our food waste packaging further.
  • Buying natural clothing is quite expensive. Although I minimize my wardrobe, I haven’t made the leap yet to buying all natural fabics.
  • I’ve gotten away from being an organized cook. This creates more waste in our home. Meal-planning and cooking in bulk helps to reduce waste.
  • I carry a reusable stainless steel straw in my purse, but often forget that it’s there…
  • I recently found a brand of bamboo based paper-products. Next time we run low on toilet paper or facial tissue, I’m switching to an environmentally-friendly brand.

So, you want to be more impactful with your choices. Where or how do you start?

The easiest way to start is slowly. Creating new habits takes time. When you finish your shampoo, switch to a refillery. When you go shopping, purchase a couple of reusable shopping bags and build on it, same with reusable produce bags. After you unpack your bags, put them by your door and take them to your car next time you leave so they are readily available. When you run low on laundry detergent, dish detergent, household cleaners, visit your local refillery. Changing over as you run out of things is the most cost effective and least overwhelming way to get started.

Take some time to consider in your own life where you are already low-waste. That’s awesome! Are there areas that could use some improvement? Are there small steps you can take to move in that direction, however imperfect those may be? I encourage you to start following one of those paths.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Larry Verstraete says:

    Solid advice, Suzanne. I like how you’ve broken it down into simple & practical ways we can all do better.

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