Today I’d like to clarify something. Search online for zero waste lifestyle and you see pictures of mostly reusables. Pretty reusables, a closet full of perfectly matching jars, an amazing looking reusable cup or a beautiful set of lunchboxes. I love those pictures, but today I want to tell you that this isn’t always reality.
Let’s be honest, Instagram and other media are always used to show off how good things are. Photo’s look good, feeds look good, everything mostly looks good. That’s not just zero waste, that’s all subjects social media. To me it makes sense, of course you would like to show the best version of you. The best version of your life. I do this too, everybody does this. But sometimes we tend to forget that. Instagram isn’t everything, and it surely doesn’t give a realistic view all the time.
Zero waste on social media
And so, that’s the case with zero waste too. Bloggers show their beautiful little trash jars, which can be intimidating. We show the beautiful pantries with, all matchy and perfect jars. We show mostly wins, usually because we have been in this proces for a long time. We are prepared and we have come a long way. We have learned things already. So, this makes that it can all look awfully beautiful sometimes. Because, zero waste can be beautiful. If you have all the perfect-looking items (like a maison jar, a lunch box, utensils, cloth bags, napkins and I could go on), to me zero waste can seem like a high-standard lifestyle. Like you need to be rich to live zero waste. Like you need to buy all these things to even start reducing your trash.
Zero waste in real life
What I really want to emphasize here is that it does not have to be pretty. You can start today, you don’t need all these flashy items. Zero waste is about using what is already there, is stead of buying all these new things just for it to look pretty. And the reason I am telling you this is because I had that feeling in the beginning too. I remember myself buying RVS straws because I figured I needed that in my new lifestyle. I did not think about whether I really needed it (I never used straws before that at my home), but I just thought I needed it since everybody who reduced their trash needed it. Same goes with lunch boxes. I have people asking me: ‘Why do you have a plastic lunchbox when you try to live a plasticfree life?’. It’s a logical question of course. But why would I throw away the box I already have and then buy a pretty stainless steel one. That is the complete opposite of zero waste, since you throw something in landfill which is still perfectly fine. Also, the production of new stuff causes a lot of pollution too. That’s why I bought a plastic secondhand bottle. Try to use what you have. Same goes for a pantry. Why throw all of the glasses you still have away so you can buy fancy new ones which look better, that’s missing the whole point. Need handkerchiefs? Cut them out of some old fabric you still have. And of course that is personal, since everybody has a different home and so different stuff. But that is what makes it so much fun too! Why all look the same way? So no, zero waste isn’t always Instagram worthy. I have a thrifted plastic bottle, an old lunch box and two thrifted plastic bins for my composting system, so what?
Is zero waste ugly?
That does not mean it has to be ugly. Handmade handkerchiefs or cloth bags from old fabric can be beautiful. At thrift shops you can find these beautiful jars for this pantry you want when one of the current ones breaks. You can use your oldest bag you love but never use for buying zero waste produce at the farmers market. The point is: it does not have to be new. Zero waste is definitely not about buying new stuff. It’s about making use of what you have.
Did you buy anything new when you tried to reduce your trash?