The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

What Happened When I Tried to go Zero Waste

source: trashisfortossers.com

source: trashisfortossers.com

Within the first hour of my challenge, I had already failed. I brushed my teeth. The container of the toothpaste (as well as my toothbrush as it happens) cannot be recycled and therefore I was already contributing to the waste cycle. The Zero Waste alternative is a concoction of coconut oil and baking soda. Both of these ingredients have recyclable containers and are quite efficient. We didn't have any baking soda in our house, so I just used coconut oil on its own. It did  not taste good. I was not a fan. 

 I gave up a lot of my makeup and skincare routine for the week seeing as most makeup containers are not recyclable :( I used a micellar water that is both cleansing and moisturizing, and comes in a recyclable bottle. Finding waste free makeup alternatives is quite difficult. 

Every Sunday morning, I go to my favourite coffee spot Credo to spend time with my siblings and disconnect for a few hours. It's been quite hot recently so iced drinks have been my go to. Unfortunately, these drinks come in plastic cups with plastic straws that are not 100% recyclable. That was tough for me, until I realized that reusuable cups and mason jars existed! I personally prefer mason jars to take to coffee shops because they're easy to carry, and aren't made of plastic which is often tricky. Coffee shops are often the easiest place to create waste, seeing as straws, cups, pastry bags, etc. all are more waste contributors than recyclable products. In fact I  recently found out that "paper" to go cups from most coffee shops are not recyclable due to a specific plastic they put in the rims. So those blue recycling bins at Starbucks are very sneaky. 

Midweek however, I was ready to give up. I felt that even in my attempts to produce NO WASTE, i was just making more waste than ever. I found it very hard to give up regular toothpaste or deodorant. It all seemed really hard. But before I allowed myself to give up, I got back online to find some inspiration. I ended up on Trash is for Tossers, a website by Lauren Singer, a young advocate for Zero Waste. As an environmental student, Lauren was put off by the excessive use of plastic and styrofoam containers by other students in her class, and felt hypocritical for promoting environmental consciousness, yet contributing to the waste cycle. On her site, Lauren provides the 2 steps she believes are necessary to fulfilling this lifestyle: evaluate and transition. And that's when I realized that I had missed an important step in my challenge. Transition. I was trying to dive into Zero Waste living headfirst, when it was more of a dip the toes in situation. I knew which of my habits were contributing to the waste cycle, but I was trying to change everything in one day. 

From Wednesday on, I decided that each day, I would do something that would help me get closer to that Zero Waste goal. Not using plastic straws at cafes. Giving coconut oil as toothpaste another go. Looking up recipes for natural deodorant. The small steps that will lead to achieving the greater goal. 

I don't believe I failed or succeeded this week, instead I gained a valuable education and have been motivated to be more mindful about how I contribute to the health of the environment. 

This Week's Writer

Learning about "Zero Waste"