The Zero Waster's Wasteful Habits

Zero Waste

Contrary to popular belief, my biggest pet peeve since I began the zero waste life isn't related to trash at all.

My top pesky thing about practicing a zero waste life is the perceived notion of perfection.

Zero waste is a journey not a destination, it's a never ending cycle of triumphs, EPIC fails and trash free milestones.

I'm turned off from the idea of perfection because it tends to make the zero waste lifestyle an exclusive, out of reach and mentally-impossible elite club for some.

With that, we can lose many opportunities to get folks to make one step (small or large!), towards minimizing their trash.

And yes, I do fluctuate between the phrases 'zero waste', 'trash free', 'minimal waste' and 'zero waste pursuit', to let people know Rome wasn't built in a day, and you don't have to do exactly what I do.

With that, here's my non-zero waste habits.

I have a cat companion.
Two years into my zero waste life I decided to get a cat. Knowing my cat would bring loads of food cans, medications, shots papers, etc.

I buy canned foods.
Not just for the cat, but for me. Because metal is a valuable recycling process, I will buy tahini and coconut water in cans and recycle them of course. I'm trying to be more strict about it, but it doesn't always work out that way when I'm trying to hydrate myself in the the Atlanta summers.

I do not search through the produce for the non-stickered produce.
No, I do not spend my time picking out the produce without the stickers that the grocer happened to miss while labeling them. Instead, I charge the stickers to the zero waste game, AKA, put them in my jar.

I buy stamps, and use them!
My little brother, Justice, went to the military at the beginning of this year. He's limited to an hour phone call on Sundays, if we are lucky. Wanting to be able to communicate with him and let him know he's on my mind, I write Justice letters. Using the back of old pieces of paper and folding them into self enclosed envelopes.

I don't always give my zero waste spiel.
Sometimes the spiel about how I'm zero waste, and wanting to minimize trash, and not wanting anything wrapped in packaging, tends to confuse people even more. What do I do instead? Give very direct instructions. "Would you put my donut on a tray without the wax paper and serve my coffee in a ceramic mug, please?" Done and done!

If I end up with a napkin orwax paper on my plate I won't make a fuss.
As if that employee doesn't have enough drama to deal with, the last thing they need is a women getting all up in arms about a napkin on her plate. Unintended trash is something I always deemed as poor business practice anyways.

I've used some of those compostable clam-shells.
Le Sigh, I'm not proud about it, but I must admit, I've used a couple of compostable clam-shells/trays since I've started my zero waste life. Although they are compostable, they undergo an intense process to be designed, manufactured and distributed. And that is what makes them super wasteful.

My business is not zero waste.
I run an online store where I sell zero waste products. Although, I try to be as minimal waste as possible, zero waste doesn't always work for me. I ship out in a very zero waste manner, but getting large orders and purchasing materials, can be wasteful. I reduce and recycle materials as much as possible.

I toss junk mail in the recycling bin.
I use to write messages on pieces of junk mail and send them back to the corporations with hopes that they would consider using technology to market their services and goods, but considering I have at least two pieces of junk mail per week, I threw in the towel and started throwing all my junk mail in to the recycling bin.


I don't refuse gifts, especially from old people.
VERY important rule because I learned the hard way! You ever turned down what was suppose to be a 6-month belated birthday gift from your great aunt, who hardly sees you? If not, don't start! I'm warning you now. EVERY family member will call you to make sure you're still alive.

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  • Kenya on

    This is helpful. I am attempting to embrace aa zero waste pursuit but it feels impossible. This reminds me to just do the best I can.

  • Cherri on

    I needed a pep talk as I have been feeling a bit guilty about a few things that ended up in the bin. Thanks

  • D. James on

    Thanks for this perspective. Perfectionism really is draining.

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