The simplest solution is often the best, right? So many times I feel like in the Zero Waste world, we’re trying to replace, when really, we just need to reduce.
- I don’t need dozens of Zero Waste cleaning products—I need a couple multipurpose ones.
- I don’t need millions of “compostable” disposable cups—I need one reusable cup.
- I don’t need to go out and buy a speciality tool for a project around the house—I can borrow one from a neighbour.
- I don’t need to replace the items in my wardrobe with ethical pieces—I can wear what I have until they pieces are worn out (and then mend them!).
- I don’t need new fancy silicone bags—I can use the jars and cloth bags we already have (and wash and reuse the plastic bags that we haven’t managed to avoid).
- I don’t need a travel cutlery set—I can just use a napkin and utensils that I have around the house.
- I don’t need fancy plastic-free hair ties—I’ll pretty much be using the old ones that I have forever at this rate.
It goes on and on.
And I know I’m hardly the first person to realize this. In fact, it’s why the ZW movement has received criticism for being co-opted by consumerism. It’s also why Zero Waste has been seen as something only attainable by white wealthy people (mostly women), even though BIPOC and lower-income people have been engaging in Zero Waste practices far longer than it has been trendy to do so.
Thankfully, I do see this conversation opening up, with people discussing issues with nuance and complexity, as well as tackling topics of racism and ableism.
I’d love to know, how are you practising “less” in your own life?