I never want anyone to think that i’m ‘perfect’ or that I always choose the zero waste option every single time. Sometimes other life pressures take over and I feel that it is in my best mental health interest that I do something that might not always be the most environmental choice. What I think is important is what you do overall and that choices are always intentional and mindful. With that said i wanted to share some of my recent zero waste ‘fails’. These are things or occasions where i haven’t been able to live up to the zero waste ideal for one reason or another.
- Cloth Diapers/Nappies While Travelling
I’ve always been pretty open about this one on my channel i think if you watch enough of my videos. I’m a huge advocate for cloth diapers and wipes. I love them. But I have also had several trips interstate the last year and half where i’m flying and away for much more than week. I would take cloth diapers if it were only a few days, but when it is a long trip if I were to cloth diaper i’d have to pack an entire extra suitcase of them which could be prohibitively expensive when flying. Also I generally don’t want to spend my trip washing and drying diapers. So i use disposables on these trips. Also whenever my son gets a really bad diaper rash which is occasional and does help it clear up faster. Others have suggested to me i should be buying compostable diapers on these trips. They are extremely expensive and not all that available where I am. I need to be able to pick up whatever at a regular supermarket the minute I arrive somewhere on a trip. Also where i’m staying they don’t have a compost system where i could put dirty diapers. Putting them in landfill is not a whole lot better than plastic diapers as they don’t compost correctly. So given these constraints i go for standard plastic disposables, ones that i know work well with my son. Nobody wants to risk leaking diapers on a 3hr flight either…
- Bamboo Hairbrush and Toothbrush
This is a very new fail for us. I was a huge fan of my bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush. I thought the hairbrush did a really nice job. Sadly we got a really bad black mould problem in our bathroom and it spread to the toothbrushes and hairbrush. They could not be saved and i can’t risk consuming and propagating mould which is clearly an issue in our bathroom. Thus i’ve decided the risk just isn’t worth it for us and we’ve gone back to plastic. I figure a hairbrush is a very long term item so i’ll be sure to look after it. As far as plastic toothbrushes go i’ll use our electric again so i’m just replacing the head which really isn’t all that much extra plastic than the bamboo ones were anyway as even they have plastic bristles.
For some random reason I got dandruff for the first time in my life. I don’t think my regular shampoo bar caused it as i’ve been using it for many months now with no issue. Maybe it has something to do with the mould in my bathroom, or visiting a different climate? It occurred while i was on an intensive study trip and don’t have time to mess around with DIY treatments, especially as i’m not staying in my own home right now. So I bought a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo. It worked, and once i run out i’ll go back to my shampoo bar. I’m scoping out a dandruff shampoo bar as we speak that is apparently available from a local eco-store in this city but it isn’t something i could pick up quickly and easily, it will require a special trip.
- Dental Floss
I am getting low now on my natural silk biodegradable dental floss that i’d ordered from iherb which was shipped to me from the US to Australia. I’ve realised that it is ridiculous to get something transported from overseas as it negates any benefit from the biodegradable floss. So until they make the same product available in a store i can walk into and buy off the shelf, i’ll be going back to regular floss.
I have developed what is now a really rather good diy deodorant for my very sensitive skin that can’t handle bicarb soda. It works great in my temperate climate. It does not work so well in the humid tropics though where my family live. So I have a standard roll on deodorant i use just when i’m visiting them. It is obviously lasting me an extremely long time as it is not what i’m usually using. I’ve got an idea to tweak my DIY recipe even further though so am hopeful i’ll be able to improve it to function in this kind of climate. I’m hoping to release it in the future on an etsy store but will only do so if i know it does work in all sorts of climates so in a way these trips act as product testing!
- When i’m Sick/Exhausted/Stressed
Finally in general i’ve made some non-zero waste choices when i’m feeling very overwhelmed with other areas of my life. I’m been quite sick for several weeks lately, i have my phd thesis due in just a few months all this on top of normal family pressures means sometimes i just don’t want to think about zero waste. At these times some non-zero waste things do tend to creep in.
These experiences definitely make me relate to and understand why some people feel like it is just too much to handle in their busy lives. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone with multiple very young kids and a full time job for instance. The zero waste lifestyle is often portrayed as an all or nothing very extreme kind of lifestyle and it is lived that way by some people which is very admirable. Obviously not everyone is going to be able to or to choose to live this way assuming they even have the capacity and resources to do so. This doesn’t mean though we should give up, especially when we do have occasional ‘fails’. Every time we make a zero waste choice we are removing a potential item from landfill or a turtle from strangling on a piece of rubbish. That makes a difference. Also we are voting with our dollar for the zero waste option and hopefully companies take notice and change their products in more sustainable ways. Already it is getting more and more easy to make zero waste choices compared to what it was like a few years ago. Eco is very trendy and this is a good thing. It starts with more expensive niche brands and overtime is and will spread to more accessible products for people that might not even prioritise zero waste but will make the choice because it is right there in front of them. I am optimistic this is worth it.