Last week I got to meet Susan Rößner, a woman who has been living plastic-free for several years, and who manages the wonderful website “Monomeer”, an online business that sells loads of daily essentials in plastic-free packaging (an interview will appear later on I hope!). As we discussed over a coffee at the university café how she started on her journey to a waste-free lifestyle, she said something that really caught my attention. Looking through the windows of the shop, she lamented at how, even though most of the people around us have a fairly high IQ (being at university and all), they are still making the foolish, uninformed choice to pick up plastic coffee cups, plastic lids and plastic spoons, gulping down their chai lattes in five minutes and then tossing it all in the bin.
This week, I caved. I bought butter and cheese and oranges, all wrapped in plastic. And my excuse was pretty poor: I was tired from work, a little hungover and I just didn’t have the energy to go to farmers’ markets that morning. And yes, I feel terrible, I feel guilty whenever I open my fridge, I feel weak for giving in.
But that doesn’t mean I am giving up. We all have our moments when we fail or when we lose sight of our goals. However these are the critical moments when we have to get back up again and get back on track to what we want to achieve, no matter how far away it seems. The reason that I am writing this post is to show people that everyone falls, everyone fails, everyone has that moment. And that is ok, as long as you don’t give up, otherwise everything else you have already achieved would have been for nothing.
Living waste-free is not just a fad or a trend that will come and go, it is a lifestyle that you have to embrace fully. Of course it is difficult, but I was brought up understanding that if something is too easy to achieve, you are not aiming high enough. I enjoy trying to produce zero waste, not only because I know it is so much healthier for our planet that is already strained under us, but because it is also a challenge. It is a physical challenge to find food and products you can use, and a mental challenge that forces you to come up with innovative solutions to everyday life issues. It gets people talking about important global problems that we need to start tackling right now, and it encourages the massive-scale change that is required to make the planet and people greener and healthier. And it is for these reasons that I don’t give up.
So this is going to be a very short post about one of the most essential pieces of equipment for a waste-free life: mason jars.
I first came across using mason jars from Lauren Singer, the woman who created Trash is for Tossers and has been living a zero waste lifestyle for the past two years. At first I thought, “oh that’s quirky and kinda cool”, but not much more than that. It was just another one of those trends which everyone was jumping on along with serving cocktails in jam jars and using biscuit jars for lampshades… It was only when I started using them that I realised how incredibly versatile they are! I now use them for almost everything, from storing all sorts of food (cooked meals and leftovers, dried beans or rice, flour and sugar), to keeping body lotions and toothpastes in to carrying them to work every day with my lunch in.
So far, my plastic-free journey has been tough, but really eye-opening. I have managed to cut down a good 70% of my waste, just by changing the way I shop and the products I use. Some might find this amazing or “impossible”, but the changes are easy to make once you work out where to find the products you want in a plastic-free setting.