What I've also noticed in the all this newfound excitement over zero-waste is that it seems to have become ever more often an opportunity for consumerism. The photos most often involve a new stack of tiffins or a pristine collection of wooden brushes or a beautiful stack of folded produce bags. There are posts galore reviewing bowl covers + cotton rounds. I'm not necessarily opposed to these items...but I am opposed to the idea that this presents...which is that you need a lot of new stuff to begin living the zero-waste lifestyle. Yikes.
The whole point is to lessen our impact on the earth. This, in my opinion, begins with "less" not more. Also, I feel like presenting this version of zero-waste will give some friends the idea that it is beyond their means...and that they can't start until they have all the stuff.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Anyone can start right now! It's not about buying a new toothbrush + dumping the old one. It's about using that old one up + then, when you'd be replacing that toothbrush anyway...choosing a compostable one instead of a plastic one.
Gather up any tote bags scattered around the home...most of us have a few. Start washing out + collecting jam, salsa, + spaghetti sauce jars. Look around for cloth drawstring bags from gifts or purchases like shoes, sheets, etc. Ask mom or friends if they have any extras.
With this kit, you can shop the bulk section. Just start with what you have. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. I didn't start out with + still don't use glass jars to shop. Read more about my rationale here (I'm still shopping with those same plastic bins). The jars can hold your bulk purchases, leftovers, cooked beans, lunch, cheese, snacks, drinks...
-In the kitchen:
The following is a list of things that I have nothing against, but don't have or want:
-beeswax paper/cloth bowl covers (a jar works great...or put half of an avocado or apple or watermelon face down on a plate..put a plate on top of a bowl- or bowl on top of a plate to keep leftovers in the fridge)
-all the pretty brushes (I don't like all the little grimy bits that get stuck in the bristles, so washcloths + rags work for us)
-tiffins (we have lots of jars)
-individual produce bags (everything can go together into a bigger bag)
-roll of snap together cloth "paper towels" (use spent tea towels or cut up an old tee for rags)
-In the bathroom:
Use up what you have. That might take quite a while + that's great! This allows time to really consider whether the product is a necessity, to do the research, to save up, + to replace each item with a product that creates less waste as each runs out.
If someone has fun buying a couple new items to get started decreasing their waste...ok. I get it. I find my set of matching jars lovely. But I fear that presenting zero-waste in terms of a shopping list is just another excuse for consumerism (not unlike the popularity of capsule wardrobes as an excuse to purchase a whole new set of clothes each season).
Conspicuous consumption is the biggest creator of waste in our society. It's exactly what zero-waste is fighting + I get a little peevish about its creep into the zero-waste community. My point is only that a shopping list is not the most important thing about starting zero-waste. The most important thing is to begin. :)