Let’s start with a fail. Perhaps not the most uplifting start, but it’s super important to me that we realize that “zero waste living” isn’t an ultimatum, it’s a goal. We can test our limits, and sometimes we surpass them, but sometimes we fall short. AND THAT’S OK. The good news is that tomorrow is always a new day, and we are well equipped to learning from our bumps in the road.
This zero waste fail came to pass one Friday when I forgot to bring my To-Go Ware bamboo cutlery and my cloth napkin with me in the morning to work. I planned on having dinner with my boyfriend and some friends in Astoria right after work, and didn’t realize my forgetfulness until we were sitting at the bar with paper napkin wrapped silverware in front of us (complete with the sticky paper ring around it). That’s when I usually go for my bamboo and cloth, so as to avoid the sticky paper and paper napkin altogether. I was a bit disappointed when I realized I had forgotten my daily staples, but there are worse things to use than a paper napkin, and I made sure that it was compostable. We finished eating and I wanted to bring my leftovers home with me… but I had also forgotten to bring a container from home as well (arrrrg)! I started stressing out even more, but we made sure the to go container was recyclable so I relaxed a bit. Cut to the next morning when my guy and I head out to brunch. I hadn’t been home yet (we don’t live together) to pick up my forgotten items and the restaurant where we ended up used paper napkins around their silverware (again, not the worst). I was in such a state over another meal without my lifelines that I asked for an iced black coffee and a water and they both came out with straws in them!! This pretty much sent me over the edge and I could feel tears. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was about to cry over the accidental use of 2 straws and a couple paper napkins. Perhaps I was hungry (hangry), but I also know myself enough to know that I was being too hard on myself.
Upon seeing the straws I would have completely crumbled onto the floor in a pit of despair if my lovely boyfriend (who isn’t at all zero waste but is very supportive of my journey) wasn’t there to calm me down. He reminded me that I do my best day in and day out and I should be incredibly proud of that. We got to talking about why I put such pressure on myself to be perfect and that led me to the realization that most people view zero waste as an ultimatum. I read about people who are furious at Leonardo DiCaprio for flying in a private jet while “preaching” about global warming. I personally get lectured by people who call me a hypocrite for not fully diving into vegan eating and for still using makeup (even though it’s all natural and comes in compostable packaging). I wish I could change the term “zero waste” but it’s here and it’s a growing movement that I am so happy to be a part of. We need to keep in mind that living a zero waste lifestyle is not by any means an ultimatum, it’s a goal. We’re humans living on a borrowed planet, it’s inevitable that we’ll leave a carbon footprint. But we can choose how big or small we want that footprint to be. We do the absolute best we can as individuals, and sometimes it doesn’t work out the way we want it to. I want people to know that if you say no to plastic bags at the grocery store but still buy cereal for your kids in packaging, it’s OK. Each individual step you take is huge, and makes you an environmental hero! Now go out and brunch on, my beautiful friends!
“No one is an environmentalist by birth. It is only your path, your life, your travels that awaken you.” -Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Peace, Love, Mother Earth