Six months later and I’m still not a perfect zero waster, but really, is anybody? Some of my favorite people in this movement have been doing it for over ten years, and they even admit that they aren’t completely zero waste. In fact, I don’t believe it is possible to be completely zero waste, even those people with the mason jars prove that you can’t live without any waste. I wholeheartedly believe that a better name for the movement would be “low waste” but I guess that’s not quite as cool.
The one quote that I’ve heard a lot is:
“We don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly, we need a lot of people doing zero waste imperfectly.”
I’ve been transitioning slowly, trying to only replace the things that I actually use and not buying excess things just because they say that they are sustainable and look trendy. I’m not doing this to be trendy, I’m doing this to make a difference and take responsibility.
I’m pretty sure that the first thing I did was make a few habit changes. 1 – stop buying new clothes, and 2 – try to buy things that are packaged sustainably or in less plastic. I also did the whole reusable bag thing, and I still do, however some stores are not allowing them right now due to COVID-19. These were relatively easier than I thought, though there were sometimes that I forgot my bag or I just grabbed the quickest thing to get in and get out of the store. I then evaluated all of the wasteful things my life, whether that was other habits or just trying to find better product alternatives that were available to me.
The first zero waste swap that I bought were shampoo bars, and although I was skeptical at first, I have become a full convert after finding brands and small businesses that have formulas that work with my hair. I don’t know if there is some kind of placebo effect happening to me, but I honestly feel like my hair is healthier and grows faster now that I’m not stripping it of oils and using products with nasty parabens and sulfates.
Next I bought my amazing, flexible head safety razor from LeafShave. My review for this razor is one of my best performing posts on this blog and one of the first product reviews that I ever did. It has a hefty price tag compared to other safety razors, but I think it is worth it to have the convenience of the flexible head and not have to worry about knicking yourself so much. I actually used my Christmas money to buy it and it is the best gift I have ever given myself. I truly believe that I get a closer and smoother shave with it and I love it so much.
My next favorite thing that I’ve switched to is solid face cleanser bars. Let me tell you right now, it is so much easier to travel with your product as bars than as bottles. They are smaller, lighter, and pack the same amount of product if not more. I actually wash my face more often with the cleanser bars because they fit right next to my shampoo bars in my shower, so I just wash right there when I see it. I’ve used a few different kinds, and I’m still trying to figure out which ones like best. I’m looking to do a full review for you guys at some point, pitting them all against each other. I have brands like Neutrogena, Aveeno, Cetaphil, CeraVe, Cleen Beauty, etc. It’s been interesting to try the different formulas. Also, have I mentioned how affordable they are? If you do a price comparison, I have yet to find a bar face cleanser that is more than $4. It’s insane to me, considering how usually the more sustainable alternative is conceived as more expensive.
Another thing I’ve been trying to do is just finding new uses for things that I already have. I’m trying my best to use hand towels and washcloths instead of paper towels whenever I can and using them more than once before throwing them in the washer. Reducing my use of certain appliances and products has also been a big challenge. I’ve been trying to optimize the load size whenever I do my laundry, and I try to only turn on the lights in my room once the natural light has gotten too dim.
The hardest thing that has come up with this whole journey is trying to persuade others to just do one good change. I’ve butt heads with my mom and dad on this front more times than I can count. My mom is trying to drink more water, so she buys the big packs of plastic water bottles, even though we have a Brita filtered pitcher in the fridge. She also uses the thin plastic produce bags to grab a few apples in the produce section. I’ve made some headway with them on little fronts. We recycle aluminum cans and we donate a lot of stuff instead of throwing it away. We even reused retaining wall blocks from our old house to use at our new house. I’m trying to make them more conscious.
I have met a few people that say what I’m doing doesn’t matter, and that really angers me sometimes, but I try not to waste my time on them and spend time talking to the people who are looking to make a difference. My sisters are really receptive to what I’m doing for example. Whenever I get something cool that is helping the environment, I try to show them and get them interested in it. My sister Hanna wants to get into shampoo bars, but hasn’t found the right one for her yet, so I’ve been recommending some brands to her. My sister Harley was really interested when I showed her that I was using the Eco Egg (review coming soon) to wash my laundry instead of detergent. My oldest sister Heather is super into beauty and skincare, so whenever I can find a brand that works and is sustainable, I recommend it to her for her to try. I’m hoping to find them products that work for them so that maybe in turn, they will recommend it to their friends and create a helpful cycle.
Like I said, I’m nowhere close to being a perfect zero waster, but trying is better than doing nothing at all. Six months down and forever to go.