It’s been slightly more than two years since my first post and I have learnt so much. The main reason why I started looking into the zero waste movement was to figure out how to save money since my job was unstable at the time. If I wasn’t getting paid regularly, I needed to figure out how to reduce my expenses to withstand irregular paychecks and I came across some youtube videos on zero waste. Along the way, I learnt about minimalism.
Sometimes I wish I knew about zero waste and minimalism in my twenties but then again, my experiences in my twenties have allowed me to appreciate zero waste and minimalism more. There are so many similarities between zero waste and minimalism but sometimes I come to a crossroad.
The Chicken Example
Chicken cost $1.29/pound at Costco and it is packaged in plastic but I can get it package free from the butcher at $2.99 / pound. Where should I buy my chicken from? In this example, I’m going to assume that the quality of the chicken is the same at both places. One can argue that it’s worthwhile to spend more at the butcher to reduce your trash because the zero waste lifestyle allows you to save money overall. Since my goal is to save money, I usually choose the money saving option.
Sometimes you should not just pay attention to the packaging but consider the overall environmental impact. For example, if you are already at Costco, it may be better to just buy chicken there instead of driving to the butcher just to buy chicken. In that example, you don’t bring home trash but you had to drive to the butcher. You really cannot blame yourself if companies do not provide you with environmentally friendly options. The alternative is to go without completely but then again, zero waste should not cause you to be deprieved.
I’m currently having the same problem with my soap. When I started with bar soap, I did not have any issues at all until six months later when I would break up into rashes all the time. The allergies went away when I moved back to body wash. I did not give up and i still tried looking for the perfect bar soap. Recently, I’ve been traveling and the weather change caused havoc to my skin. It was getting ridiculously dry and I’ve been applying olive oil which would work for a few hours but it would get dry again. My husband reluctantly moved towards bar soap but even he complains about how dry his skin is so instead of us having a bar soap and body wash, I gave in and we bought our first bottle of body wash in two years and I can feel my skin getting better. I did not buy the cheapest body wash but I bought one that has moisturizing qualities and is paraben free, phthalate free, cruelty free and biodegradable.
Next comes the shampoo bar. It took me awhile to condition my hair so I didn’t have to wash it everyday. The transition period took several months and it included many days of greasy, itchy and stinky scalp. I finally got my hair adjusted when I started traveling a lot. This included squeezing every opportunity to swim and the chlorine started messing up my hair and I was back to shampooing my hair after every swim. When I did not have my shampoo bar with me, I would use whatever shampoo was available. Also, the hard water and soft water was messing up my hair. I’m tired of having to go through the transition period again so now I’m considering moving away from shampoo bars. Also, I would prefer if my husband and I could use the same shampoo to minimize the number of items in the bathroom. It would also be helpful for guests who stay with me and are not familiar with shampoo bar.
As much as I want to go zero waste, I’m not getting any younger and anytime is a good time to start taking care of my skin. Instead of embarking on a 10 step beauty regiment, I have added additional items to my beauty routine. I can no longer get away with just soap and moisturizer. I have to add serum, eye cream and anti-aging moisturizer in an effort to try to look younger longer. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find these additional items package free. You can find these items in glass but it can get expensive so I tend to buy what I think is the best value for money. The trick is to stop wasting money by buying useless products and becoming your own pharmacy.
To keep or to throw
Minimalism tells you to keep only what you need. Zero waste tells you to avoid throwing anything in the landfill. If you are a zero waster, you will hoard glass jars which goes against the idea of minimalism. In this case, I go with the konmari method and only keep things that spark joy and that practical things fall into the spark joy category.
How do I decide?
Before I decide to buy anything, I’ll think about whether I really need it or if I can make do with what I have. If I have to buy something, I usually start by considering the zero waste option. If the zero waste option is too expensive or unsuitable, you should not feel bad about not taking the zero waste option. At the end of the day, you should make the best decisions based on your resources and what is available to you. As long as you do the best that you can, you should not feel any guilt.