When I was in middle school, I joined a new environmental club at my school, the natural nerdy next step for a kid who grew up in a family that bothered to recycle in the days before curbside pickup and composted food scraps for our home vegetable garden. Which is to say, I’ve had a “green” streak for as long as I can remember.
While my household arguably produces much less trash than the average American (more than 4 pounds per day), I’ve been wondering lately if I can do better. I decided to challenge myself to get as close to zero waste as possible for the month of March, with the goal of figuring out strategies I can use long-term (and not just for a BuzzFeed video). I’ll be blogging about the process to keep myself accountable, and in case I learn something that is useful to someone else.
My self-imposed guidelines:
- Eliminate as much packaging as possible from food and household good purchased over the next month (goal is all packaging)
- Any packaging that does come in must be recyclable
- No plastics
I already have food and other things in my house that might not meet these standards, of course, so part of my challenge will be figuring out the best way to deal with that waste as I use things I already have. More on that in my next post.
A note on privilege: A lot of things on the internet about “zero waste” living portray it as something simple that anyone can do. While I agree that many people could do better at reducing waste, I think it’s worth acknowledging that a lot of the common suggestions require ample free time, at least modest financial means, and access to a natural foods store. For example, there are up-front costs required to purchase reusable containers and bags that could put them out of reach for someone who is struggling to make ends meet.
I am fortunate enough to be in a position to do this. As the harmful effects of pollution and climate change disproportionately fall on poor communities and people of color, I feel an added sense of responsibility to do everything I can to make the world a little bit cleaner.