I saw someone post the other day: Is this the end of the zero-waste movement?
While simply, I think not, there are few things to consider.
The “zero-waste movement” is currently taking a hit to help prevent spreading of the virus that is affecting us all. What I do not like about this is that the message is that zero-waste is unsanitary.
While I understand the measures being taken, I cannot see how my reusable container (that I have thoroughly cleaned myself) is somehow more dirty than a plastic-wrapped item that has been grabbed and passed by several machines and/or humans before getting into my house. Not to mention what plastic is made of.
What stopped first is Starbucks refusing reusable travel mugs for drinks. Single-use only. While still, both people touch the cup, and what of customers paying with cash? Other cafes followed suit, and some closed altogether. I am currently only making coffee at home, and composting my grounds.
Then Bulk Barn stopped their reusable container program. Most of my dry goods came from Bulk Barn or Fullfill, so I have stopped purchasing certain items altogether, like raisins, chia seed, flax, and granola to name a few. If I bought these at the grocery store – they would be packaged in plastic, so for now I will refuse them. Other items I have managed to source directly from local sellers, like loose-leaf tea from Purcell Organics.
At the grocery store I am trying to stick to paper, cardboard, and glass packaged items. If something must be purchased in plastic, I get the biggest container available to avoid having to purchase several smaller ones (i.e. yogurt and laundry detergent). I am also ordering more from Kootenay Farm-to-Folk, as they are more conscious of packaging and offer local food delivered to your door.
Overall, we are making more garbage at the moment, especially from meat packaging (we eat meat 2-3 times a week), as we currently cannot use our reusables at the butcher.
Recycling is currently still available, though it requires us to go to the local transfer station, as we do not have curbside pick-up. I am utilizing the compost as much as possible, and trying to cook fresh as much as possible to cut down on food and household waste.
At home, I am still using reusables, such as rags, towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, diapers, and wipes. We do laundry more often.
To me, zero-waste is not a trend. It is a mindset change, so I do not believe the zero-waste movement can “end”. If you are true to your values, and if you live consciously, you keep sustainability in mind, which in turn reduces the waste you create because you are aware of how it will impact the world around you. The question then is – how will you stay true to your values?
If cafes never take reusable mugs again, I shall no longer visit cafes unless they offer me their own mug. If Bulk Barn never reopens their reusable container program, I shall no longer spend my money at their stores. To me, it is that simple.
Wishing you all well,