Look. Let’s be honest here.
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.
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.
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.