I just came back from a 10-day vacation where I surprisingly, quite easily tossed out my ideas of zero waste along with the trash I accumulated. It's one thing being zero waste at home, quite another while traveling. I was feeling pretty smug the first day on the road with my cloth bags filled with bulk snacks and homemade zero waste sandwiches. As the road trip lead to smaller and smaller towns with no zero waste options, I began to care less and less about following the rules.
Anyways, I'm back in Austin and I think for the most part I still want to live a zero waste lifestyle! I think I can be maybe 70% successful?
Here's what I learned this month.
- Zero waste living is pretty easy in Austin. Even most HEBs have a big bulk section. You also have Ingredients, Wheatsville, Whole Foods, and Central Market. It's pretty amazing.
- I'm shocked at how much waste I reduced in a month. I basically needed to take out the trash one time.
- I ate healthier. Except for that one time I got drunk and I didn't.
- I feel better just knowing that there are little things I can do that will make a difference over time. It's pretty motivating.
- I love reducing my reliance on products, especially household chemicals and cosmetics.
- Forced me to cook from scratch, this is both good and bad.
- I saved money. Buying bulk is cheaper, not to mention you can't buy anything packaged so you're forced to save.
- I started to question little actions. For instance, I just stopped printing things. I can access the info on my phone.
- You have to plan. I hate planning. You can't just spontaneously walk into a store and pick up groceries. You need your bags, your jars, and a strategy. For instance, Wheatsville and Ingredients sells bulk eggs. HEB does not. You have to navigate your shopping with your list. That's kind of annoying.
- You have to overcome the embarrassment of being the hardcore environmentalist type who brings their own jars to the store. It's only a little bit painful an then you get over it.
- You just can't buy some amazing things! Do all blueberries have to come packaged in a plastic bin or a bag? Why can't I just buy a pint of ice cream at the gas station? Maybe I can get Ice cream in a jar?
Even with all the annoyances of going zero waste, I still really loved this experiment. Surprisingly, it was one my favorites. I hope I can keep it up!