May 24, 2011

The pain of ending one life...and beginning another.

I went shopping today. The trip was supposed to be a prep-my-life-for-wasteless-living trip, and I was ridiculously excited to get to the shops and gather my ZW necessities. Unfortunately, I was too excited.

It is absolutely an addiction and a high for someone like me to be in shops with limitless options. I even found myself eyeing things that weren't ZW to start my ZW lifestyle. How much sense does that make? And it's made more difficult by the fact that the line becomes finer and finer the closer one gets to actually acting in a wasteless or zerowaste manner; until of course, one sorts these issues out for oneself so as to never ever have to deal with them again, if at all possible.

Reusable Bags--not always an ecologically sound choice
An easy example is reusable shopping bags. Sound great. They are great. But they're not all created equal.  I'm not just talking about differing sizes, or the fact that some stay open and others are forever floppy by design. Some reusable bags are made of plastic, or poly-something-or-other which is an awful lot like plastic, or perhaps you find a lovely great big canvas tote, only to find inside the manufacturer has taken the liberty of coating the bag with that's right, plastic!--to waterproof the item, or even just to make it look "cooler."

Breaking the Addiction to "Normal" Consumption-Mode
These types of choices make my head spin. And yet they are still very tempting to me. I'm just a beginner after all, and now realizing that it will be a true process of learning and of learning to let go, in order for me to free myself of convenience mind. My materially and convenience-addicted mind says, "how do I know that that barely noticeable lining is actually plastic, and even if it is, how do I know it's the common non-biodegradable variety and not some new generation compostable plastic." The addiction wants my convictions to remain unconscious. But no more. The truth is that really, when I step away from the pretty bag I know the best answer is to avoid temptation, avoid purchasing anything questionable.

Transitioning off the Invisible KoolAid
But having said that, I am going to need to define for myself what I will and will not accept in a product. Then, I'll modify as I become more entrenched in purposeful living. For now, I'm going to start with not allowing my convictions to sleep, but still be gentle with myself. Changing a lifetime addiction to convenience and to blissful ignorance is not going to happen overnight.


  1. OK... Blogger has been confounding my efforts to comment today... not that I have anything earth shattering to say, but I hope it will work this time.

    Just wanted to say that I liked your comment over on Zero Waste Home and hopped over to check out your blog. Wanted to wish you the best on your new journey!

    I have about 15 different reusable shopping bags that I've collected over the years and I think there's no perfect solution. Canvas is good because you can wash them easily... plus you can usually find them cheap at the thrift store if you don't mind some random logo printed on them. The ones with rigid bottom pieces are nice for heavy stuff, but the rigid pieces don't last more than a year or two. Lately I've been eying those bags made from rip-stop nylon that crumple down into a tiny little bag - they'd be easy to carry in a pocket or purse.

    Anyhow, just curious what you ended up with!

  2. Hi EcoCatLady,

    Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your frugal advice both about the canvas bags and reusing commercial jars. I aspire to your level of frugality...sincerely--so thanks again for the shout out.


  3. Hi Steph,

    It's great to find someone embarking on the journey to zero waste about the same time I am haha! I can also relate to the "addiction" to zero waste.

    I can still remember when I went shopping after reading Bea's blog. It was like my eyes were opened for the first time and all I could see was PLASTIC! By the time shoppers leave the cashier, they'd be carrying home some plastic -- be it a grocery bag or the wrapper of the item they bought or the container of the item itself. I was just appalled to realize that all that plastic had to go somewhere and that somewhere will be around for a really long time.

    I'm really glad I decided to aim for zero waste. And glad that you did too! Time to spread the word some more!

    To zero waste!

  4. Hi Rae,

    Yeah, it's great to feel the energy of other passionates... I can hardly hold my tongue at the store when I see people putting one item in a plastic bag, double bagging the one item, bagging items with handles (that don't need bagging).

    And yet I still have the pain of my own waste...which I'm often not noticing until it's too late....but GENTLE is the key..I'm going to be gentle and keep plodding away at wasting less. It's a lot of fun, ey!

  5. Another belated 2¢ :-))
    ZW has sadly tickled my my need for [retail] shopping therapy. Etsy has been my "store" of choice, and I've gotten enough produce bags and scrubbies to last a few years. Then there's the need for glass.....
    The only good news is that these will last longer than the average 6 months "stuff" lasts before hitting the landfill.
    Re others and their plastic bags at the grocery store: aside from yesterday's backsliding, I proudly and prominently use my fabric bags and jars. I keep hoping SOMEONE will ask where I got them. Not yet, but I do suspect many notice! Practice, not preach ;-))