This past weekend I had the opportunity to hear Bea from Zero Waste Home speak. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, but I disagreed with her on one point.
I really enjoyed listening to her perspective, and loved visually seeing what works for her. But, I feel her view is unrealistic for life outside of the bay area. Her success in waste reduction has so much to do with where she lives and the ample amount of bulk selections.
My favorite point of her speech was that the zero waste lifestyle should put simplicity first.
What she means when she says simple and what I mean when I say simple are very different. She emphasized that the zero waste lifestyle and homemaking are not synonomous and expressed frustration at the link between ZW and DIY. (as have a couple of you in the comment section)
According to Bea the simple thing is just to buy it in bulk. If you have easy access to everything you need in bulk and you're comfortable with the ingredients used in the product and the price point - that's great! But, I find it difficult to fulfill all three of those needs. (especially when it comes to the ingredients)
She mentioned that it was unsustainable for her to drive 30 minutes to get dog food in bulk. I have to drive almost 30 minutes to buy dry food like pasta and snacks in bulk and I live IN the bay.
While I agree that ZW and homemaking aren't the same thing, and I agree that ZW is about simplicity - I know that not everyone has the same level of access to bulk goods available here in the bay area. I grew up in the eco wasteland of the south - I know.
The closest bulk bins in my home town are 45 minutes away. And, it's the same for a lot of my readers. The access is just not there, so homemaking is a viable option, and I would dare say - the simpler option.
It's all about perspective. So, here are some questions to ponder on your journey to simplicity and waste reduction.
What matters to you?
If you hate cooking or homemaking or diy - find a way around it, do without it or accept it. Here's an example: tortillas
- I could make the tortillas
- I could find a way to buy them without packaging
- I could make do without
I hate making tortillas and I will *NEVER* make tortilla chips - I can't stand it. I can easily go to the Mexican restaurant down the street and have them place them in my cloth bags. They're made fresh and with the ingredients I would use making them at home.
What about chemicals?
I am very concerned about unknown chemicals in my food, beauty products, cleaning products, and in the home. The bulk selection of beauty products and soaps and even some foods are pretty mysterious. Did you know that in cleaning products companies don't have to disclose what's in them? It's a complete guessing game.
That's one of the reasons why I really like making my own products. I know exactly what I'm putting around my house and on my body.
If you enjoy it, it's sustainable. If you don't, it's not.
I find simplicity in doing every day tasks with intention. The process grounds me. I have a whole new interaction with what I use, cook, and eat. Life has become less complicated.
In fact - I'd call it simple.
I sincerely enjoyed her talk, and loved learning more about the way she lives a ZW life. Her blog and book are awesome - I highly encourage you to check them out. We have differing perspectives on the definition of a simple life, but we have very different backgrounds. All the same, I love hearing about everyone's perspective; because, we have the same goal - waste reduction. And, I can't wait till we level the playing field. May there be an amazing bulk store within less than 30 minutes of everyone!