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the grey areas of zero waste

I touched on this topic a little bit in my trash jar post but wanted to go in on it in more detail.

You'll often see us promoting bulk shopping and buying your produce loose, be it from farmers and wet markets or bulk food stores. Though you may have access to an actual zero waste store like the wonderful live zero, often times that isn't the case, which means that even though you aren't using plastic or other materials, it is still involved.

Take Hong Kong for example; the wet markets and farmers markets are packed to the brim with Styrofoam and plastic waste. Yes I may be going home all happy with my produce bag, loose veggies, and bulk goods but I am still contributing to the use of plastic and other damaging environmental practices. I think this dilemma sits with quite a few who are new to zero waste and I totally understand it, but here is why it is still environmentally friendly.

First of all if you have access to a zero waste bulk shop AND a zero waste produce section then lucky you, but many of us don't have that privilege. Zero waste is a lifestyle that attempts to push for the world we want, a circular economy in which damaging materials like plastic are only used in instances where it is completely necessary such as medicinally. What it ISN'T is a lifestyle in which you don't make and/or contribute to any waste. It is inevitable that you will make waste, if not actively on your own then definitely through upstream practices involved in the things you purchase, such as styrofoam boxes in the market. This is because we are far from living in a circular economy. Yes I am supporting business that are not entirely environmentally friendly, but by choosing to not support waste on my end I am making a statement to others, to businesses, and ultimately to the government about the kind of world I want to live in. A world where unnecessary waste is avoided and our planet's health is taken into account in the decisions we make. Ultimatly these things like styrofoam boxes will be filtered out as a knock off effect of a more environmentally friendly system. There is no person on this world (unless they live extremely rurally) that isn't contributing to waste and damaging environmental practices upstream, even if it is unintentional or unknown, so do your best, but don't make this lifestyle an obsession with perfection. Instead, focus simply on doing better.

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