I have always loved a challenge. Especially a challenge with purpose.
I think this might have something to do with my stubbornness and my competitiveness. If something seems especially difficult, I am even more interested. Bring it on. So what is it this time? Living our lives without creating any waste at all? COMPLETELY zero-waste? Is this even possible? Since the chance of this being a reachable goal seems very far off in the distance (like galaxies away), SIGN ME UP!
For a couple years now, I have always had this little voice in the back of my mind nagging at me about the amount of garbage our little grubby family creates every week. Ever since we saw the documentary called "The Clean-Bin Project" created by a couple here in Vancouver, BC I have continued living my life as before with an added 70trillion tons of guilt on my shoulders. Achieving a zero-waste lifestyle just seems like toooooo much work. Especially working full-time and raising two little kids (I have so many more awesome excuses for putting this off, just ask).
We are creatures of convenience. In our society, in this country, at this moment in history, we have all grown to expect everything to be quick, easy, cheap and efficient. High speed interwebz at your fingertips, free fancy smarter-than-StephenHawking handheld devices with a 3 year contract, perfectly ripened bananas (from thousands of miles away), etc. without even thinking twice about how AMAZING all these things are (hence the word EXPECT). Along with these conveniences, we also have disposable everything, especially our state of mind. We are in a disposable age. A conveniently disposable age. Phone died? BUY ANOTHER! Phone is out of date (after 6 months)? BUY ANOTHER! Phone isn't big enough? BUY AN IPAD TOO AND THROW THOSE OUT IN 6 MONTHS FOR THE UPDATED ONES! (What happens to those old phones anyway?) ...Ok, I've gotten off track...
Convenient and disposable. Our food travels from very, very far away. At least most of the time. For this to be possible and safe, these foods need to be loaded with preservatives to make sure they last long enough to make it into our tummies and they also need to be wrapped in the air sealed, inexpensive and transportable plastic. Keep it "fresh"! Packed full of preservatives and covered in plastic? Yum! It is very difficult to find any kind of food in a conventional grocery store that isn't in some sort of package. Most of these packages are not reusable. It wasn't always like this.
In the early 1900's and previous, products would come in a tin or a jar or a refillable glass to be used again. Packaging was MADE to be reused. From 1947 to 2000, refillable glass drink containers (soda, milk, etc.) has dropped from 100% down to 1%. Today, it is made to be thrown out (one-way containers). I could go on and on about this, as well as things being "built to last" before as opposed to today's standards, but this isn't the point I am trying to make. The point is, for a person or a family to attempt a zero-waste lifestyle, it is VERY difficult to avoid the overwhelming amount of packaging. I am finding out very slowly, day to day as I encounter new obstacles and difficult decisions for the things we buy/consume and the impact that is making.
We took the plunge about 2 weeks ago. This is our record of the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of transforming our trash talk about being a "green family" into actually LIVING it. Money has officially been placed in our mouths.
First step: Keep a notepad near the garbage and write down EVERYTHING that goes into the bin.
Second step: Sit down and source out different products or places to buy these items with a glass or recyclable package (plastic aside). We decided that even though some plastics can be recycled, that doesn't change the fact that the plastic itself, no matter how many times it's "recycled", will forever be on the planet, clogging up the arteries of the Earth. Check out this other doc from Vancouver: From the Waste Up by Taina Uitto.
Third step: Cross off the items on the list that we have found packed-free and contact the companies of which we have no other options. Strike up a deal? Beg and plead for them to re-think their current forms of packaging? Stalk them until our demands are met?
Over-arching theme: Commit to buy NOTHING with plastic in, on, around, or on top of it.
No problem, right? OH BOY. Here we go....