Which non-zero-waste items haven’t I given up?

If you’ve been following the page Manj smeti – Manj skrbi from the very beginning, you know that it all started with a 30-day zero waste challenge. Each day in September 2016 I introduced one aspect of living waste-free and I concluded the whole thing with a post, in which I spoke about the aspects of my life that I wasn’t willing to change just yet.

Spaghetti are a case of “lesser evil”. If I wanted to buy them without packaging, I would have to drive pretty far to get it. I’d rather chose a locally available option in cardboard packaging.

As humans, we change with time and so do our tastes, preferences, knowledge and experiences. In the first post, I wrote that I would never be zero waste in regards to toilet paper, medicine, plant based milk and crafting.

My thoughts on it today

Well, I’m still not sure I’d be able to use family cloth – washable cloth you use to wipe yourself after going to the toilet – but a big BRAVO to those who do! Instead, I buy recycled toilet paper that I can get plastic-free. Soon after publishing the aforementioned post I was told that washing yourself is more effective than just wiping – and it does actually make sense. So, as soon as I move into my own apartment, I’ll think about installing a bidet-like system.

Medicine is medicine. I still avoid it as much as possible. In case of a mild headache, I don’t immediately swallow a pill. I take a short nap instead. I am aware, though, that in some cases taking medicine is unavoidable. I do not wish to risk my health at any cost. In the first post, I also talked about not being able to find zero waste contraception – that is still true.

I mostly make my own plant milk now, although every now and then I buy a fortified one. I was a vegetarian when I started my zero waste journey. Today I try my best to avoid all non plant-based foods. As a vegan I cannot get my B12 any other way than with supplements or fortified foods. Milk cartons are recyclable here so I kill two kale chips with one stone.

As far as crafting goes, I agree with what I said previously. I usually use things that would otherwise be thrown away so it’s not really creating waste.

What non-zero-waste things do I still buy today?

Vegan treats. I really, sincerely believe that, as a vegan, you can be perfectly happy and healthy without eating vegan substitutes for animal-based foods. But even a vegan needs a treat every now and then. I usually treat myself with vegan salami, yogurt and cheese. I only buy those a few times a year and in as big a packaging as possible, to make as little an inveronmental impact as possible.

“Lesser evil” objects. How sinister does that sound. Sometimes, living zero waste is not easy and you have to choose a lesser evil. I make an exception and buy a plastic or plastic-wrapped object if I can use it for at least five years OR if I can’t get a sustainable version locally AND if the price is good (the last one only together with 1. and 2.).

For example: A few weeks back I bought my boyfriend a metal water bottle. The packaging was cardboard but it had a tiny plastic window. I still bought it because it was the only sustainable option for me at that moment, it was affordable and my boyfriend now won’t have to buy and empty three water bottles a day at work.

Kathryn Kellogg, one of my favourite bloggers, spoke about the concept of “personal sustainability” in one of her posts. It basically means that if you hate doing something, it cannot be a sustainable practice. We try so hard to be perfect that we forget that every little thing counts – even with living zero waste. Instead of beating yourself up about not being perfect, make sure that you give it all you can – nothing more, nothing less.