As per usual with my birthday, I got a little reflective last week. And I realized that I’ve really been slacking on the whole zero waste/low waste thing. I used to be very into it, kind of around the whole girl boss, peak hustle culture, doing everything to the utmost and to esthetic perfection, the peak age of the Instagram aesthetic era. When it seemed like everyone was trying to be zero waste online for the esthetic of it. But it really did make me feel like I was doing the best I could for the planet.
I think though, that between the pandemic and the banning of reusables in coffee shops and restaurants, moving up north where lower waste option are hard to find / not as easy access to low waste shops it became easy to allow myself to use more conventional products and plastic packaged products. I also got really bad at predicting when I was going to run out of my lower waste options, and then I would run out of shampoo or conditioner and need to wash my hair because I have to go to work, or other similar situations.
I also completely gave up on natural deodorants, they don’t work, all the many different ones I tried all irritated my eczema (have you ever had armpit eczema?? it’s hell), and I gave it 5 years and many different ones (aka please don’t give me suggestions) and there aren’t any plastic-free anti-perspirant options. I wish I understood why that was, like it’s not just the deodorant people who want to be more environmentally friendly. So, that added some plastic packaging back into my life.
I also started doing a lot of my own beauty services at home, waxing, nails etc. because I either couldn’t figure out services up here because no one has a website or because we were in lockdown, which also added some plastic packaging into my life. Which, I was generating that waste before, I just didn’t see it, so it felt like I wasn’t generating it.
So far all I’ve done is make excuses for why I am making more waste, what I haven’t done is explain how I’m getting back into waste reduction.
So, number one is getting back into being more conscious about my purchasing. I want to make sure that I am keeping track of when I am starting to get low on and placing orders so I don’t run out and then run to Wal-Mart to get shampoo or laundry detergent. So for example, when I was in Kenora last week on my birthday I stopped in a store that I know sells shampoo and conditioner bars, and laundry detergent strips and stocked up on all of them. I still have a plastic-package conditioner I have to work though, but I was perfectly timed for running out of my shampoo bar yesterday.
Number 2 is prioritizing orders of low waste products rather than clothes or skincare. I did really need new clothes this year and with going back into the office it was especially a priority, but now I am decently well stocked for clothes and I need to bring the focus back. I really need a silk floss refill, a new dish brush head, and new Swedish dish cloths and this would not be an expensive order, I just need to actually do it.
Number 3 is generally reducing my consumption. I did need to buy things this year, last year I was very frugal because I had to be, I was unemployed for 2.5 months, I moved 2000km, I had credit card debt, I had to replace my car, and so this year I needed to replace some clothes, I needed some home stuff, but I have also had some conspicuous and frivolous consumption and that needs to get reigned in. For my budget and for the planet. Reducing what you consume is not only about reducing what you consume that is packaged in plastic, but just generally reducing how much you consume overall.
Number 4 is prioritizing experiences over things. It is much more fulfilling to do things than buy things, and so I want to continue paying for tennis lessons, roller skating nights, and yes those all required that I buy things to do them, but now that I have the essential stuff for them, I can just pay for the service. I can go to the drive-in, I can hang out with friends, all without purchasing more things, and hopefully continuing to be as happy as I have been this summer.
I really plan on finding a balance between low waste and frugality, some lower waste options are significantly more expensive than their conventional options and in this age of inflation we can’t always be doing that.