on the road realities and finding peace

a dream lived greener_365 photo challenge_dream love grow-

Look. Let’s be honest here.

I could never be the poster girl for zero waste like Bea J. or Lauren can.

My blog isn’t all roses to make you think I’m perfect, as I’m sure you’ve realized reading through my shenanigans. I’ve dissed restaurants when I was completely frustrated, which is totally not nice. I’ve questioned my own existence in my own little privileged life. I often sit teetering in the space between feeling like the richest human on the face of the planet and somewhere that isn’t the poorest but isn’t necessarily making all my dreams come true because I don’t have all the money in the world I want to really achieve everything I want. Yet. At least not yet.

I could never be the poster girl because zero waste, while a beautiful sounding term, is impossible. I’ve mentioned this before. This isn’t new. And if it is for you, sorry to burst your bubble. In this world that was somehow designed to make people think that the best option is eating out and buying out of convenience and ease, going completely zero waste and plastic free completely is impossible unless you:

Are dead. You just need to be dead to be completely zero waste.

I should just be calling myself… two waste. I’m not zero. No one is. So I will tell people I live a two waste life.

Because that makes so much sense.

Not.

Living zero waste is easy when you have a routine, places you know you can zero waste shop at that are close by you and a stove to cook on in your home. Zero waste is easy when you live alone and you have absolutely no contact with the outside world. Ever. Zero waste is easy if you’ve been doing it for a long time. Zero waste is easy when you are an ant. Basically any animal. You just have to not be human.

Zero waste is easy when you’re in one place and you’ve settled down. When you’re in one place for periods of time longer than a night or a day.

Zero waste is not easy when you’re attending conferences that feed you food in plastic and there is no where to cook a meal. It is not easy if you’re a business that ships plastic products wrapped in plastic. It is not easy if you have twin girls and a toddler. And it’s not easy when you’re on a surprise road trip with a partner who loves life and believes that indulging is fun and that life is really too short to practice restraint all the time, every waking hour, like them Buddhist monks do.

I don’t see them making any garbage.

Travel. It is the one thing I have not mastered yet because I haven’t travelled too much since zero waste began. How can I master something if I don’t do it enough??

Universe. Are you listening? I need to master traveling zero waste.. aka two waste… so I can be better at it. Thanks for listening Universe.

And also, travelling alone is different from when you’re travelling with someone else.

I had to give myself a break so I agreed to go on an adventure. Too much work makes me angry. Too much being “on” and being a professional makes me hate life. Too much of being a mother with not enough sleep makes me the worst possible human being to be around. Too much being zero waste and seeing all the garbage out there with no end in sight makes me tired. Too much of being too much, is too much.

I want to not give a flying fuck sometimes. I am after all a human being that falters and makes mistakes and yes, I know it. I sure as hell make mistakes as a Mommy. I mean, how do you ever know if anything you’re doing is the right thing for a little child?

I never want anyone reading this blog to think I’m a perfect person that perfectly practices living zero waste like a zero waste goddess. That would be even worse than being the worst human being on the face of the planet. Who the hell is perfect? Besides Angelina Jolie of course.

All this to say, I perfectly did not practice zero waste on this adventure.

Let’s just get to confessions ok? So we can get it over with.

Confession number 1: During my little offline road adventure, I had coffee twice. With creamers. Yeah. I used those stupid plastic creamer things because I wasn’t the one paying for the meal and I was not about to waste $3 more on a kids milk. So I used creamers and do you know what I did?

I loved every minute of those two coffees.

Next confession. I used a plastic cup to mix a gin and tonic in the hotel because how the hell did I not think to call the hotel in advance and ask them if they had glass cups? How the hell did I NOT THINK OF THAT DURING A FUN TRIP? That’s what NORMAL people do right? Right?

I did not pack a drinking cup with me in my suitcase either because I was not thinking about mixing gin and tonic at the time. Although now looking back, I could have ditched the water in my stainless steel water bottle and used my water bottle for all the wrong reasons. Because that’s the right idea.

Next confession. You know those mint candies you get after a meal at some places? I hate them. But for some reason I ate one and then I spit it out after. It had a wrapper, which is now in my jar.

Lastly. One night I forgot to yell “no straw” to the bartenders who were making me vodka sodas. Which did, to my happiness, come in a reusable cup. But the amount of straws that came in my drinks (not just alcoholic ones) that were not used during this trip was.. 6? I think it was 6.

6 plastic straws.

While it’s not an excuse really, I actually wasn’t the captain of this trip. I didn’t do any of the planning, or driving. I was spoiled. I am however, the captain of my own choices and I readily admit that this captain chose to relax rather than trying to complicate something that was meant to be special and fun. And this captain did actually try to do the best with where she was even when she had no idea where she was going.

At the end of the day my values are still my values. Just because I had a few moments where I slipped doesn’t mean I’m going to keep sliding and make any excuse just so I can gleefully make garbage with reckless abandon. No. I did just came back from doing groceries and not one single item in my cart made any garbage, so I’m not spiralling out of control.

Look.

I get why I’m living zero waste. I get it. I really get it. Obviously. I believe everyone should be trying to reduce their waste wherever they are especially if you know better and you can be doing it.

But at the same time, Life is too short to waste a perfectly good trip hating yourself for every little non-zero waste “mistake.” If you’re given an opportunity to have fun with someone, don’t spend it fighting over plastic. Just make your choices separately and be zero waste where you can.

Sometimes you don’t know that hotels are going to have plastic cups. Sometimes you know that the people you are travelling with are not going to give a flying rats ass about how much garbage they’ve made. Sometimes the only choice you have is to eat greasy diner food with coffee, and you’re going to have to learn how to enjoy every second of it. Sometimes you’re going to forget to say no straw.

And that’s ok.

Of course, I really do wish that the entire world would just be easier to live this life. So zero wasters could stop feeling frustrated or guilty when they are put in situations where garbage is inevitable. I really wish that zero waste was normal, that plastic didn’t exist as an option and restaurants only had cream in cartons and not small stupid, plastic cups. I wish it was easier to make less garbage. I wish it was normal.

But until this happens, I do believe this: that the purpose of living zero waste is not to be the best. Or the most perfect. Or pretend to be. It’s about the fact that you’re even trying to practice living zero waste. Trying with where ever you are and where ever you can. But most importantly, to have fun even while you’re trying to do it.

We really are only here for a short period of time. And while I do reallllllly care about the environment and leaving this place better than I came especially for the next generation – I also care about myself enough to choose to have fun with important people, be present in the moment and find peace with any situation.

Even if the situation isn’t garbage free.

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27 thoughts on “on the road realities and finding peace

  1. I can totally relate to your travel frustrations. It is easier to have control over a lot of things when you travel by car – take your own cooler with prepared food, bring regular cups, plates, utensils, etc. However, when you fly somewhere it’s almost impossible to take the same things that a road trip allows. Travelling (other than by foot or on a bicycle) is intrinsically wasteful, even beyond plastic cups and wraps (I am thinking about carbon footprint now). However, as more of us are beginning to think about how we live and consume and travel, more awareness is raised, change happens, businesses adapt and accommodate. I want change NOW and everywhere – but I realize (some of the time) that’s re-enacting Don Quixote’s fight with the windmills.

    1. Thank you Beauty. I feel your solidarity on this so thank you for commenting. You’re absolutely right on how wasteful traveling is and the different challenges you can face depending on the method you take. While it may not be easier for us in our lifetime, perhaps our changes will make it easier for the next. How else to know but to keep on trying different things and move forward. Love and light to you on your journey.

    2. Beauty Slong the Rosd, I love what you wrote here. I travel by hybrid car. It is true that I never liked flying, but something seems intrinsically mismatched when I watch the many YouTubers promotion of minimalism and some of those same ones promoting minimal waste, yet their constant traveling via planes has the most incredible carbon footprint and usually everything that goes with it. Here, in California, there are thousands or more places to travel by car and take your own food. I think travel is really spiritual and about perception. There is a perception that there is far more to learn and do miles from home and the more exotic the destination, the more people ooh and awe. When colleagues ask, “Where did you go on vacation?” and I say that I stayed at home or DROVE to the desert or went to the beach ir made Vegan kunch for friends at my place, they look at me with great pity. I laugh. Lastly, I watch sometimes one young YouTube couple who refer to themselves as minimalists. They currently live in Thailand and nearly all the food they buy comes in plastic even the fruit. Does it not matter because it is not my own backyard? I saw the documentary “Trashed” and it shocked my soul in terms of the damage we do to the earth.

      1. Hello, RawLawGirl – I was recently called a “troll” because I interrupted a long thread of pro’s and con’s related to steel vs. glass straws by asking whether straws were even necessary. This was a zero waste site! The culture is addicted to consumerism, even better if it’s green-washed. I’ve been seriously re-thinking my travel patterns this year since I am very much aware of the carbon footprint of flying. It is a big sacrifice since I love visiting different places around the world. But more and more I also look at what we do, as tourists, to another place; the comforts we must have, the food we demand, etc. etc. It’s such a huge issue and entails looking at our basic assumptions about the world and how we choose to be in it…

  2. I agree, we all need to cut ourselves some slack now and then. We do our best, but no one is perfect. While I’m trying to go as zero waste as possible, I’m also only shopping secondhand. Unless I buy straight from another person (usually requiring paying a much higher price), these secondhand items have price stickers, sometimes things like lids are taped on with clear plastic tape, a paper price tag I can recycle may be held on with a thin piece of plastic that I can’t. While I’d rather avoid these bits of trash, I think buying secondhand has far less environmental impact and shopping in thrift stores not only saves me money but puts money into a charity helping people in my community. It’s so much better to do what we can, but also focus more on the good we’re doing and not dwell on our missteps. 🙂

    1. Karen, I am proud of you for trying to go zero waste and for shopping thrift. Has anyone ever told you that? It’s nice to have a community that although on the same journey, we recognize how perfectly imperfect we are. Thanks for understanding and for taking the time to comment ❤

  3. I wish we humans felt guilty less often.. This feeling of guilt makes us want to explain to others why we did this or that. The truth is you do not owe any explanation to anyone! And that is the true freedom 🙂 However, reading such confessions is so relieving! No one is perfect and (although it’s nice to be inspired by perfection) it’s great to see that someone is not trying to impose this image of a perfect human on others. This only creates guilt and doubt (can I be that perfect like Bea?). Your post is liberating! We can still all feel that we can do it and be okay with slip-ups, because we will not be judged. As long as we are 75% or 90% (or as much as possible) Zero Waste – it is already a huge contribution to a more sustainable lifestyle on our part.
    So thank you for the sincerity and realistic perspective on Zero Waste. 🙂

    1. Thank you!! It’s such a relief to read this. And you’re definitely right, I own no explanation to anyone 🙂 I appreciate your thoughts so much, thank you.

  4. I appreciate all of your honesty here. Let ME be honest. Truly. Your partner sounds unequally yoked with you. When this happens, one person always must change. Not judging. Just saying. Love is wonderful, but I have found that when it pulls me so far from who I am or want to be, then this love is NOT better than my being alone. Regarding not being zero waste all the time, I agree. I do NOT obsess, but I probably do better than most since I live alone, have a high income, and do not travel much and when I do travel these days, it is usually in my hybrid car, not planes. I ALWAYS take my lunch to the office. Each of us do what we can do. Bea Johnson has the means and passion to do what she does and when on the road, she likely consumes stuff wrapped in plastic. Who cares. I think that when you love what you do, then it is no burden ever. I have been a Vegan 40 years because I LOVE fruits and veggies not because someone says it is healthy or a fad. When we do what we truly love, it takes no grand effort. Not even the best looking fisherman or hunter man could make me eat meat. Some things we do not compromise IF those are the things we truly love. One last thing. Alcohol is a way to escape. Alcohol is a way to relax and pretend we are having a good time. Alcohol is like a pair of running shoes. What are you running from?

    1. Thank you for your thoughts rawlawgirl, if you read some of my earlier posts there are many demons I struggle with regularly, daily. Though I ran before, I do not so now. Everyone’s journey to discover and better themselves is different, even if on the outside it may not seem productive. I would say I drink for pleasure and for fun and do not abuse it because I have many, many, many responsibilities. But I’d never lie about it or hide the fact that I do enjoy a drink or two every now and then.

  5. I actually started following you because I found you so real. I have actually been “doing zero waste” (like you, it’s hard to say zero) for about 5 years and before I even knew what the hell zero waste was I was bringing my own containers to the bulk store and reducing plastic where I could(/thought I could).

    To me, I love following Bea because she is massively inspiring in what and how she manages to do, especially with a family. But at the same time, I see things that I can’t help but feel are more for the looks of zero waste than anything. I think it’s important for people to know that “zero” waste isn’t a thing at the time, and your life doesn’t need to look one single way to achieve it.

    As we all find our own way more and more options will pop up and it will be easier and eaier for people to avoid trash.

    1. Hannah,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It makes me so happy to hear you’ve been zero waste before it was even a “thing.” I also do understand what you mean about the ‘more for looks’ and appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for also being real with me 🙂

  6. I think anyone who is on this path in any serious capacity has great empathy for you here. There is no perfection. And there is the reality and ins and outs of being human and being on a dedicated heart path. The complexities of our society and culture make it incredibly challenging to eat, live, and act in a completely Green way, unless, like you said, we are isolated or able to afford the privilege to live in such a way consistently, no matter where we are. My family and I don’t have the same choices in what we do, eat, and buy everyday. I respect where they are and I know that if I force my choices on them they will not value them at heart. The long path of living into it with genuine awareness can take time. Unfortunately, things are pretty urgent right now. Yet, the urgency doesn’t rest on one person’s shoulders alone. The values and actions are simple, practical, etc. The activation of our society and culture into a widespread movement has been coming for a long time, and is complex and timing is unknown. I do know that because I haven’t forced my choices on my family they are that more sensitive and respectful and willing to make changes that are fair and more mindful because of me giving them space. When I was a teen I had no awareness of such things. Poverty makes other pressing things take priority…like eating, getting things washed, etc. Basic needs. Now, with more privilege, it is a dance of awareness with old programming and going against the flow of convenience. I admire the work you have done and the path you are on. Despite all our minor and major differences….if we are on this path, then we stand together….in tough days and good days.
    In solidarity,
    Chan

    1. Chan – you speak so much truth. I am happy you stand beside me and so many others on this journey. Thank you for taking the time to write.

  7. Hi!
    It’s a very good post, because I’m sure that everyone slips and no one is 100% perfect. It’s impossible to be zero waste, because plastic is not the only waste there is. It’s ok not to be perfect, as long you’re trying the best you can. People around us waste all the time without even thinking about it, the difference between you and them is that when you do produce waste, you are conscious about it and not taking it for granted. When people stop taking things for granted, that’s when a change occurs, and I hope there will be one for the environment soon.
    So thank you for your words, there is comfort in them for us people that are trying but slip from time to time.

  8. You ARE the perfect role model simply because you are this beautifully honest about your imperfections. I will admit that I have never lived zero waste, but since discovering your blog (and devouering it whenever I could find a spare moment to read) I have looked up where to get stuff like bamboo toothbrushes, produce bags, a safety razor and beeswrap locally. And I will at least try to buy less plastic even if zero waste will be impossible where I live. Thank you for inspiring me!

    1. Hanne – thank you for these kind words 🙂 It’s people like you that help motivate me to continue. Good luck to you on your journey.

  9. Hits so close to home! but it’s definitely nice to know that there are so many of us in this together! haha! & Yay for the Two waste life!

  10. Mailyne,

    I do not comment on many things I read online or on social media but I came across your blog today at random and your message resonated with me on a soul level. I am extremely grateful to have read your most recent post because I think its almost more important to remember on our journeys of going green and “zero waste” that we are not perfect and that we are human. That message is so simple and so clear but is so easy to forget. On my own journey of going green (which I have been doing alone), producing less waste has been the missing piece I’ve been looking for. I just want to thank you for your blog because your message has inspired me to keep going and to stop putting the pressure of perfection on myself today. Grateful for all of the health, wealth, and happiness the universe sends you and your family!

    Namaste,
    Cynthia

    1. Cynthia, thank you so so much for taking the time to comment and share these kind words with me. And for whatever reason made you visit, I am grateful. May you also find peace on your green journey!

  11. Hey Mailyne,
    I just wanted to say you are the one who truly inspired me to go zerowaste. Im still in beginning stages but overall this blog or the video that was on ExploringAlternatives really opened my to the waste we create everyday. I love the way you write about your zerowaste journey and it’s so raw, sincere, and perfectly imperfect. Thank you so much for inspiring me and great work. I’ve actually started my own green blog into going more green and less wasteful thanks to you. 🙂 love and support from California!

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for writing me this, this is so sweet!! It makes me genuinely happy and I really appreciate it. I look forward to reading through your words 🙂 May your journey be full of ups and downs and beautiful experiences.

  12. You are amazing! I am sure Lauren Singer and Bea are also NOT perfect. Your struggle on this journey mirrors what so many people go through during life, whether its about creating garbage or any other commitment; ethical, moral, faithful, physical. We falter. That is what makes us human. Grappling with how our values change based on our setting is important, and the conflict you felt shows your commitment. You faltering shows your grace and your humanity. Thank you so much for sharing about your journey.

    1. “Grappling with how our values change based on our setting is important…” what I needed to read right now. Thank you for taking the time to write me and for the kindness in your words.

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