Yes, I fell off the wagon. And it’s possibly an unusual way to start a blog about zero waste living. But it seems that falling off that wagon was the kick up the butt I needed to shift me from just developing zero waste strategies for my own little household to sharing some of what I’ve discovered with the wider world.
So, how did I fall off the wagon?
I had been working towards zero waste for around nine months and had been progressing pretty well, to the point where I was using reusable toilet paper on a part-time basis (I swear it’s not as hippy freak as it sounds – more on that later).
So, how was it that I found myself in the chilled food section of a New World supermarket one evening, being seduced by a plastic 300ml bottle of [censored name] iced coffee?
This is what flashed through my mind in that moment: “but it’s recyclable” and “mmmmm…iced coffee”. So, cradling it in my arm, I carried it to the checkout, alongside a small number of other more important purchases. I handed over payment, strolled to my car and opened the contraband to take a sip.
The liquid rolled across my tongue. And my tastebuds recoiled in horror. It. Was. Repulsive.
I peered again at the ingredients list. Obviously, the addition of coconut sugar hadn’t done much to remove the tongue-scraping flavour of instant coffee.
At first, I thought “Damn. Their marketing is good.” My next thought was “Kristy, you bought the stupid bottle. Drink the stuff.”
So I chugged it back.
Not the best decision, in hindsight.
For the remainder of the evening, my stomach churned, the excruciating cramps an uncomfortable reminder of a silly moment of weakness.
To clarify, yes the plastic bottle was recyclable and I’m not saying that buying a bottle of iced coffee is the most evil, despicable thing you could possibly do. But, when you establish goals for yourself, it’s quite nice if you can keep them. In this case, my goal was to reduce waste. And, as it sometimes does, life had found an interesting way to remind me of what I should be doing.
Plastic is a magical substance that has enabled the advancement of technology in ways that our forebears could hardly imagine. But it has also developed into a plague of ridiculous proportions. Our appetite for plastic, particularly the disposable variety, is, quite frankly, out of control.
Plastic manufacturing consumes an enormous amount of non-renewable resources and, when we’re finished using the plastic, we throw it “away”, but…It. Doesn’t. Go. Away. It sits in our rubbish dumps, or the ocean or somewhere else in our natural environment, leaching toxic chemicals and endangering our ecosystems.
Recycling is great. It gives some of our products another life, but, in most cases it should be called “downcycling” with much of what we recycle still eventually ending up in landfill.
Basically, our environment is getting screwed over on a daily basis and I’m mad enough about it to want to jump on board the zero waste revolution.
Zero Waste is about more than just recycling stuff that you would otherwise throw away. It’s about Reducing Waste, that is, not creating pointless products in the first place. Because we can’t keep treating the earth like an endless ATM and not expect the bank manager to come knocking.
And when everybody eventually embraces Zero Waste, this simple lifestyle will be normal. It will be effortless. Folks will be able to push their trolleys through the supermarket without the temptation of wasteful products…and I can avoid the post-consumer guilt attached with buying a disposable bottle of iced coffee.
So, here’s my response to the madness that is our modern world of thoughtless mass-consumerism…
Prepare your arsenal and join me in the war on waste.