Defining Low Waste


My name is Sasha, welcome to the first post of Green Life Trading Co.'s  Low Waste blog! When I talk to people about the Low Waste lifestyle, I’ve found there is some confusion about what, exactly, Low Waste means. To help clarify things, I’m going to tell a story about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Just stay with me, I’ll explain …

My husband loves PB&J sandwiches. I would guess he eats an entire bread loaf’s worth per week. Where we live—in Madison, WI—it’s easy to find peanut butter and jelly sold in glass jars, but most bread comes in plastic bags. So, earlier this year, I was determined to make his PB&Js entirely plastic-free.

I tried making my own bread, but it was too crumbly and the sandwiches fell apart. I biked across town to a bakery that makes package-free sliced bread, but they only make sourdough, which doesn't make for a great PB&J. I even tried rolls from another bakery, but they went stale too quickly and, like the sourdough, they were not PB&J-friendly. 

Three failed attempts and several months later, my husband suggested we go back to packaged bread. I was enraged! I had created such strict zero waste, zero plastic rules for myself that when my husband asked for packaged bread, it felt he was attacking my character. I was uptight, beating myself up and equating my self-worth to the amount of plastic I used and the waste I created. But I was missing the point.

Zero Waste doesn't mean you never, ever create waste, because that’s impossible. The goal of the Zero Waste movement is to find practical ways to waste less. 

We do this by consciously choosing long-lasting goods instead of disposable ones, reusing old products, avoiding buying things you don’t really want or need, and composting or repurposing instead of disposing of.

I spent months stressing out over every little bit of plastic, and in the process drove myself and my husband crazy. So, take it from me, don't obsess and don't be too hard on yourself. Plastic is sometimes unavoidable. And sometimes you just really want a coffee but forget your mug. That’s okay, get your coffee, enjoy it, forgive yourself and remember your mug tomorrow.

I will continue to share zero/low waste observations, recommendations and more. I also look forward to hearing your ideas!

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