Zero or minimum waste?

You might have asked why I use the word minimum waste when talking about my lifestyle, and not zero waste. Zero waste is the world-known movement aiming to reduce your household waste to zero, which is what I’m trying to do. So, why do I keep saying minimum instead of zero then?

To me, zero is a very ambitious word. It’s a very ambitious goal. And to be honest, as much as I try, I’ve never reached the absolute zero. If it’s a reason for you to unfollow me, feel free to do so. But honestly I think the reason why people follow me is that, contrary to the ultimate zero waste bloggers, my lifestyle is much closer to the “normal” lifestyle and therefore people can relate to me much more than to the true zero-wasters.

How come I haven’t reached the zero? How come I cannot fit my yearly, not maybe even monthly trash into one mason jar?
Let me put it this way. I know what makes me happy and what I need/don’t need to live a happy life. I try the best I can to reduce the packaging around me and to live more sustainably, but I don’t allow this quest to stress me out, bother me or make me unhappy. The ultimate zero waste people like Bea Johnson or Lauren Singer from Trash is for tossers do zero waste for their living and therefore have all the time to sacrifice to it. I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses, but I am an active person, I have a full time job, I take care of a household consisting of 2 people, I train calisthenics 5x a week and meanwhile I like to meet my friends, go to events and visit my family. Living zero waste is time demanding. You have to plan a lot. You have to plan your shopping, what you’re going to cook and what you’re going to need. Therefore, it might easily affect your comfort.
If you want to buy packaging-free, you have to divide your shopping.
– dried goods in the packaging-free shop
– veggies and fruits at the farmer’s market
– cheese and ham in a cheese shop
– meat at a butcher’s
– fish in a fish shop
Ufff. That sounds like a long tour. And it is! I do it only on Saturdays, when I have time, which doesn’t happen on every Saturday. I always forget something, so I end up buying it in the nearest supermarket anyway, angry that my packaging-free mission wasn’t successful. Moreover, I don’t plan a menu for the whole week because I prefer to cook what I feel like eating that very day/moment. Apart from that, planning our meals for the week seems crazy to me, sorry. I need some spontaneity in my life. Therefore, I always end up needing something that we don’t have and buying in the supermarket that we have right at the corner of our street, because – sorry – while I’m already cooking or am about to cook, I usually don’t have the time to run to the packaging-free store. Apart from that, sometimes you simply run out of something and you only realize it when you actually need it. In that case, you will most probably go to buy it to the nearest shop, too.
Let me note that here in Prague (I’m talking about the city itself, not the metropolitan area), there are probably 6 packaging-free shops where you can buy food in bulk. You might think that six is a lot, but if you think about the area of this 1,3 million city, it’s not much. Most of the people will have to travel quite long distances to reach the nearest store. Luckily, the one I have nearby is only some 800m far, but still. As these shops are usually not really near and their opening hours might also be limited, you have to plan such shopping and, as I already mentioned, you can’t really go there for one or two things that you need quickly, in the very moment.
One more thing. In winter, there are no farmer’s markets here. One, it’s too cold for the poor sellers to be standing outside, two, there’s no local produce, because what grown in minus 10°C?! The result? You’ve guessed it – you have no other option than to go to a supermarket when you want fresh produce. The problem is, that many things are packaged there and you have literally no option than buying the products with the packaging. Broccoli, cucumbers, spinach, salad, cherry tomatoes…all wrapped in plastic. But if it’s a choice between eating and not eating packaged veggies and fruits or not eating them at all because of the packaging, I will opt for the first one, as fruits and veggies are a significant part of my diet (and should be a part of everybody’s diet, too).
With all that being said, I want to show you one thing. I do many things that most people don’t normally do and therefore I consider myself an example, but I am not perfect. What can be bought in bulk, I buy in bulk, I go to farmer’s markets until I can, I make a lot of products myself, I make my own cosmetic products, I use solid shampoo and soap bars, I am a minimalist when it comes to shopping and I try to dress sustainably, too. But occasionally, I buy packaged products and – sue me – if there’s no other option, I get a to-go cup for a hot wine on the Christmas markets or for e.g. rolled ice cream. Because I think that the most important is to not let the lifestyle affect your mood or worse, relations. I know that I do 90% of the things right and waste-free, when it comes to shopping, house care and personal care and therefore, I can afford to buy a packaged cucumber or a cup of rolled ice cream from time to time, without feeling guilty. I am not militant and I believe if you want to spread the #minimumwaste ideas further, you shouldn’t be. I’m happy, I’m cool, I feel good and I’m minimum waste. Minimum, not zero. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Zero or minimum waste?

  1. cchrisg says:

    Good to know more about you!
    I’m sure I’ll fully understand your feeling when I fail my packaging-free mission as well lol

    I’m glad that you’ve implemented minimum-waste habits into your lifestyle and that zero waste didn’t drive you crazy.

    Zero wasting would me ideal and desirable. However, whilst having an ordinary life (working, doing housework, training, etc…) it seems to be quite hard to achieve… But the point is that we all should engage in reducing our waste and should all deeply appreciate our environment, right?

    Thanks a lot for your work!
    I’ll be recommending your articles whenever possible!


  2. Tereza says:

    Exactly! The important thing is that we all engage and do our part, no matter if we are zero or minimum or whatever the amount of reduced waste. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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