Friday, December 30, 2016

I believe in the whole "Zero Waste" thing but I'm NOT throwing out my tupperware...

Not just yet anyway.

There's this thing I like called "Mindful Minimalism".

It makes you think about your "stuff" before you minimum it.

That is, making sure that you send it somewhere appropriate.

I think too many of us who have fallen in love with zero waste principles begin by clearing up the clutter in our homes and reducing the waste we produce by chucking everything we own and every ecologically negative purchase we ever made on the doorstep of the nearest  Opportunity Shop.

I mean then it's someone else's problem right?

But how does that make you any closer to your zero waste goal? Aren't you just making your (often regrettable) past consumer purchases someone else's problem?

I mean, clearing out your Tupperware cupboard and giving it all to the charity shop is fine, if it's something that you never ever use and it's still in good condition. But although I never reheat food in mine (I take it out of the container and put it on a plate or in a saucepan, I do still use them for storage both in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Just last week I used a small orange container that came from my partner's parents house (a cool colour but non-eco-friendly survivor from the seventies) to store my homemade deodorant concoction and it works great. Yes I would have liked one of those cute little mason jars or a quirky reusable tin, but I have a teensy little orange Tupperware container with a perfectly sealing lid that would be sitting useless in my cupboard otherwise.

So throwing them at my local Op-Shop and buying all new (or even quality secondhand) glass or metal containers kind of just shifts your plastic onto them. And by making it available for someone else to purchase opens up the very real possibility that because they got it cheap from the charity shop that they may not ascribe any real value to it and treat that bit of Tupperware like any old single use plastic item and just mindlessly chuck it into landfill.

How is that creating less waste?

Much better to use these items until they are beyond repair and actually require replacement. I mean, the energy to make them has already been expended and even those lovely new eco-friendly items you replace them with require energy and materials to produce.

And if you really can't find a use for them anymore yourself, do your best to find someone who can before simply chucking it at charity. There's heaps of swap groups on Facebook, friends who need a thing or even organisations that want your stuff  for refurbishment or parts.

I looked around a bit and found a fellow locally who can weld plastic back together. While this is probably not a completely non-toxic occupation, it means that plastic crisper thingy in the bottom of the fridge that got broken can be fixed rather than replaced avoiding another piece of plastic going to landfill and the need for a new one to be produced to replace it. Our grandparents repaired stuff over and over, then re-purposed it  before it went anywhere near landfill. In the 1940s it was not only socially acceptable but governments actually encouraged it. They called it "Austerity".

It seems to me that "Austerity", "Mindful Minimalism" and "Zero Waste" principles actually fit really well together if you think about it. Neither is about dumping your now unwanted stuff - whatever that stuff is on someone else or mindlessly chucking it into landfill, it's about looking at the stuff you have accumulated, evaluating it and making sure it goes to the place where its of the most use or at a pinch, will do the least damage.

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