Sustainability is one of the things that Dan and I are the MOST passionate about. We are big believers in creating habits and lifestyles that are sustainable. Often when we think of sustainability, we narrow it into one category, but the more I learn, the more I realise how all encompassing sustainability is. One very common area that is discussed is the environment and reducing waste, specifically plastic. Dan and I are very conscious about what we bring into our home in a large number of ways: is it ethically made clothing? Is it organic/local food? Is it financially viable? Is it serving a purpose? Etc
I’ve found myself lately really feeling the weight of our responsibility when it comes to plastic and waste in regards to what we bring into our home. We try as much as possible to be aware of the things we purchase in plastic and often do make decisions to avoid plastic. I think about how God has given us the Earth to care for, and I wonder if we too often choose the convenient route. Are we actually fulfilling this duty to the best of our capabilities? I think about the fact that I want to leave the Earth a better place for my kids, their kids and their kids. I feel as though it is not fair for future generations to pay for our poor choices or the choices we are making for ourselves without considering the implications for years to come. It is an area that is incredibly easy to make excuses in and to justify. I am starting to ask myself hard questions of where my value in this is beyond just talking about it. I have been questioning if I am okay to largely inconvenience myself for this because there is SO much more I could be doing. I am trying to find the line between challenging myself to do better and not condemning myself.
If you looked at the ways we consciously reduce our plastic use, it would be far more than your average household, but for me, that’s not what it is about. It’s about OUR current situation, values and conviction and not comparing it to anybody else’s.
Lots of why I feel so convicted on this matter is because we live in a culture, season and place that is incredibly privileged. We have the education and resources to make a lifestyle change. It feels so wrong to see this issue and just continue the way I am living. It blows my mind that every piece of plastic ever produced is still in existence.
One one end, for my personality type, it is so easy to take it to the extreme and just say we will be a completely waste free and plastic free household (my dream). As odd as it sounds, I actually don’t feel like that is the right approach or answer for our family in this season. One thing I am having to do is learn to consider that it isn’t just my values that come into play but also Dan’s. Dan has a big value for doing our part for the environment. Collectively some of the things do are buy in bulk, buy in paper where we can, shop local, use beeswax wraps, etc But he also has a big value for being frugal.
We’ve been having the conversation of what we would have to sacrifice to continue to reduce our plastic beyond what we are currently doing. It’s become such an easy part of our lifestyle to just be able to purchase what we want and when we want it. Oftentimes, convenience wins out. Here is some insight into the conversations we have begun having. I will give you a heads up that these are very much “in the process” dialogues….
-The ethically sourced/organic meat we buy is in plastic. In my head (the head of someone who was vegan for 4 years) I feel like we can give up meat unless we are able to find a butcher who wraps it in plastic. Dan also comes from a family of farmers. He used to have meat probably 3 times a day. He’s drastically reduced his meat consumption, but eliminating it is off the table for him. Fair enough. What does compromise look like? TBD…
-What if we took our own stainless steel reusable containers to be filled up when we get takeaway. Eating out is a privilege in itself and something I am not ready to give up, but I have also never tried to bring my own container and ask. I guess it takes away from the ease and potential discouragement of being turned down. Then what would my response be? I’ll let you know…
-Buying no produce in plastic. We shop locally and at the Famer’s Market when we get a chance, but even still, lots of the produce is wrapped in plastic. It minimises what you can buy and potentially things that are your staples. It can often drive the cost up quite a bit. I’ll be honest… I tried last week to do a plastic free produce shop. I did better than i thought but came home with a lot of potatoes and a very bare fridge for the week. Navigating how to do this better… could it be in the planning?
-Eliminating some of our normal foods/snacks because the only way you can get them is wrapped in plastic. We honestly don’t purchase heaps from the shops, but most of the things we do are wrapped in plastic. When I think about it, it’s crazy… rice crackers, frozen fruit, coconut milk and Dan’s beloved mint slice. It begs the question of how high is our value for these things and are we willing to give them up for the sake of taking another step on our journey. It’s not easy because most of the reason we even go to the shops is for packaged stuff.
-As much as we buy stuff in bulk, there is plenty that we do not buy in bulk and could be. We are incredibly spoiled where we live to have options of plastic free shops to buy things. The part Dan and I sometimes struggle with is the massive price difference. Suddenly my organic jasmine rice goes from $5 to $10, and lots of things become unaffordable for us. But can I put a price on doing our part for the environment?
-Buying second hand is probably the best for plastic free. Virtually everything we purchase new is wrapped in plastic. But are willing to take the time and effort browse Marketplace for the things we want and need? Are we happy to wait longer because it could be harder to find? Are we happy to potentially compromise on quality because it would be used? This is a loaded one. (More on this one another time!)
When rubber hits the road, am I going to be flexible when a recipe calls for carrots and the only thing I can find is a bag of carrots? Can I let go of my morning smoothies until I find somewhere that does loose leaf spinach and berries that aren’t wrapped in plastic? Can I sacrifice that one piece of clothing I was saving for to increase our food budget to be able to spend a bit more at the bulk store? Am I willing to spend extra time browsing the web for used pieces of furniture? What happens when I forget to make something for guests we are having? What if I don’t have time to order our TP online? These are a few of the many many questions and throats that come into play and I have to weight up the cost in relation to my values.
My mind is extremely torn. I know what my heart longs to do, but I know I need to go on the journey of finding of what fits for our lifestyle. I wouldn’t say this blog post has a formal end because I don’t know the best or right way to do it. I am figuring it out. Thanks for listening to my messy conglomerate of thoughts, and I hope I can challenge some of you to evaluate the choices you make and more importantly the WHY behind them when it comes to plastic. As always, I would love to hear anything thoughts you guys have. As I figure this one out, I will keep you updated.