The past year has been a wild ride y'all.
But it hasn't all been bad! Most of us were able to connect more with friends and family, we were taught valuable lessons about personal space, we explored our own hometowns & got into nature more and my mom learnt about video filters on Facebook messenger.
I'll admit, I've had my own moments of pessimism this year. It's tough feeling trapped - not being able to travel or even share a meal with good friends can take it's toll. But as the restrictions lift and lockdown comes to an end (at least here in B.C.), I've been working hard to think of all the good I've accomplished this year.
So this year, while I was thinking back on the last 896 months that comprised 2020-2021, I thought about my zero-waste journey and how proud of myself I was for living up to some of my toughest ideals (not all of them - oh ho no this is NOT an all or nothing thing) and I thought I would share some with you:
#1. I stopped shopping at Amazon, Wholefoods and Walmart.
***Mostly. I'm a small business owner on a budget, people, so Walmart definitely still makes an appearance in my life occasionally. But when this pandemic really took hold and local businesses were being shuttered for the first lockdown, I realized that I needed to double down on practicing what I preached, and though it might be a little more expensive, I switched to shopping primarily at local grocers and farmstands. Now, we we are really lucky here on the Island because there are a ton of fresh fruit & vegetables that are grown year round, and I know that is not the case in a lot of places. Food security is an extremely tough subject, and no shade to ANYONE who can't shop this way. I am just fortunate enough to be in a position where I can, and feel that, in that position, it's my duty to do so.
#2. I made some great zero-waste bathroom switches.
My partner bought me a Leaf razor last year, which uses safety-razor blades and does away with the completely useless disposable razor heads & razors. SUCH an easy switch and the razor blades are recyclable in most municipalities.
I also got into a really good habit of refilling my toothpaste. YUP. You heard me correctly. My favourite local zero-waste store, West Coast Refill, sells toothpaste in glass jars that you can recycle (instead of those pesky tubes that are non-recyclable) or, even better, they will refill any jar you have with toothpaste!! Of course, Covid put a bit of a damper on the refill business, but they did start an initiative of swapping out containers of toothpaste if you brought in your empty jar. Also, BIG points to them for stocking natural toothpastes that don't taste like crap or leave a gritty film in your mouth.
I switched out my regular toothbrush for a GRIN toothbrush, which is a Canadian brand that works with Terracycle to completely recycle their brush heads through a take-back program.
Finally, I invested in a few pairs of KNIX period underwear and I am STOKED about them. I have been telling everyone about them, and I know it might be TMI for some but that's just me now so get used to it. I also have a couple pair of Revol, which are a local Vancouver company and make amazing product for all menstruating humans.
#3. I cut down on my paper towel usage.
This one probably doesn't sound like much, but I was pretty bad for using paper towel to clean up EVERYTHING. I have tried dishcloths and towels, but I always resented having to wash them so often and also how DISGUSTINGLY SMELLY & SLIMY they always seemed to get, even after only a couple days of use. Ugh. So.Gross.
Enter KlIIN reusable microfiber Swedish dishcloths. They dry out quickly, so they don't get smelly, they are suuuper durable and can be washed in your dishwasher or washing machine. AND they are a Montreal based company, plus they are super cute (max importance, obvs.) I am going to sound like a crazy person or maybe this is just me being 30 again but I LOVE THIS PRODUCT. I really do. When they arrived I tested them out by cleaning my entire kitchen and bathroom and they seriously held up to the task. And the best is that now I hardly ever use paper-towel anymore! Though we do keep it around juuuust in case.
#4. I've upped my food-storage game.
Today in yet another episode of "Ways I am becoming my mother..."
Guys. I haven't bought ziplock bags in almost 3 years now. I meticulously wash and reuse ziplocks until they hardly resemble themselves. I have thought about buying those reusable silicone ziplock things, but for now, I still have a great stash (my partner might really disagree with me on this one. His idea of 'still good' differs from mine apparently...) Plus I get a kick out of the thrill I get when someone gifts me something in a NEW ziplock and I get to add it too my stash - sometimes it's more exciting to me than the contents.....(Part of me feels I should be embarrassed about admitting this, but you know what? I'm absolutely not.)
I'm also getting much better at requesting NO cutlery, soy-sauce packets or other disposable pieces that might come with takeout. My sis-in-law gifted me a stellar cutlery set that I bring with me almost everywhere now, and it's just been a matter of building up the habit of asking & holding firm, even though some places (like Dairy Queen specifically) get really weirded out if you ask for a Blizzard sans the big red spoon.
So there you have it, folks. Some of my latest zero-waste wins! I want to acknowledge that the ability to be zero waste is a PRI-VI-LEGE and I know that I am beyond lucky to be able to even *consider* this shit in the middle of a global pandemic. This post isn't to make you feel bad about your consumption, or less than for having other things on your mind or for just trying to feed your family and get through the days. It's just for me to celebrate some things I am proud of myself for and share them with others who might be inspired to try something new!
I also recognize that a lot of my wins involve buying replacement products, and I want to say that sustainability isn't something we are going to BUY our way into. I try to only buy these products when I absolutely need to replace my current ones anyways, and just choose more sustainable options at that time. If what you've got is working for you just fine, then keep doing that!!! None of these products have sponsored me or anything like that - they are just products that I have tried and love and want to spread the love for! (plus a lot of them are local Canadian companies!)
It hasn't been perfect, but it's better than nothing, and it follows my mantra this year:
"Don't do nothing because you can't do everything.
Do something. Anything."