I was hoping to end January with a celebration of successfully completing the month’s Waste Less Challenge without buying anything. This didn’t happen. As I flip through my notebook where I kept a daily log, I realize that sometimes life just happens. What a terrible excuse, right? After all, I initiated the challenge and shared it with you, and now I’m telling you how flippant I was about it. Just hear me out.
My first purchase was 2 vintage Pyrex bowls from a thrift shop for $3. As a vintage hoarder collector, there are times when a purchase has to be made in the moment or the item is gone forever. That is a tough choice to make regardless of your intended consumer footprint, however thrifted is always better than purchasing a new product. More on that later this month.
Next I bought a yoga mat because I needed it. No really. Under doctor’s orders I needed a yoga mat for prescribed exercises. Knowing that yoga mats are made of plastic, I wanted to make a healthy choice for my body and the environment. I chose a mat that was made without latex, PVC or phthalates. I can rest on my mat comfortably knowing that my body isn't going to absorb chemicals.
Although part of my personal challenge was to not buy any packaged food, I failed miserably here. I thought that eating vegetarian and ditching packaged food at the same time would be a no brainer, you know, because plants don’t need packaging. I was poorly prepared which left me eating out more than I would have liked. I tried to choose restaurants that served their food in paper or compostable material, and even kept track of the waste. There were times when water arrived with a straw already in it, or dressing came in a plastic container. Keeping a log made me realize how much packing goes into food that comes prepared, and to go.
Although I didn't complete the challenge with 100% success, the purchases I did make taught me the importance of thinking before buying. Really evaluating how something impacts your life, the environment and even your local economy, which brings us to February’s Waste Less Challenge.
Coming out of our consumer cleanse, let’s think before we buy.
1. How much packaging is too much packaging? Is the packaging compostable? Is it made of plastic? Can it be recycled?
2. Does it have to be new, or can it be thrifted?
3. When I’m done with what I’m buying, how can it be reused, repurposed, regifted and finally, recycled?
With the amount of consumer goods and packaging made of plastic, we are quickly polluting our water ways. By avoiding new items, reusing, repurposing and shopping thrifted items, we are becoming part of the solution by not contributing to consumer plastic pollution.
Vintage: Old is the new, new. Aside from the unique, vintage is a great alternative. If something from the 1960s is 50 something years old and still in great working condition, then it was made to list.
Go thrifting: You might find something new, or old, but it is new to you. Thrifted clothing keeps textiles which are usually not recyclable out of the landfill and into your closet.
Buy from the source: Farmer’s Markets and buy in bulk stores lend themselves to be more waste free than conventional markets and will help cut down on food packaging.
Read the label: Chemicals in plastic is nothing new. Be sure to read not only what’s not in what you are buying, but what is in your purchase. This goes for beauty and cosmetic products too.
Before you buy, learn to consider the impact your purchase has on the environment, local economy and most importantly on you.
Be sure to share your story in the comments and by social media with #wastelesschallenge