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We're taking a break January 19-26! Any orders placed after January 16 will be shipped when we return. Thank you for supporting small!

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Use code NEWYEAR2022 to save 15% on all holiday items.

Why I Don't Have Eco-Guilt {{Confessions of a Zero Waste Wannabe}}

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I ever feel guilty when I create trash.

He was surprised when I answered that I don’t.

Granted, I don’t create much trash. That’s not a brag, that’s just an honest fact about my life. But if there ever was a time that I would expect to feel guilty about trash, it would be now. In the time of COVID and frappuccino season colliding. (And yes that’s actually 100% serious 😂)

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Plastic Free Sustainable Living Shop Why I Don't Have Eco-Guilt Blog

When I first discovered zero waste and began really focusing on living more sustainably, I became a bit obsessed. Everything I did was hyper-focused on reducing waste. I honest-to-goodness thought I was going to go from living my normal, wasteful life to showing off my trash in a mason jar overnight.

Looking back, I have three thoughts on this:

(A) That definitely didn’t happen.
(B) I’m glad it didn’t.
(C) Trash jars suck, and here’s a whole blog post on why.

But even in this obsession-riddled phase of my life, I don’t actually remember ever feeling guilty when I did slip up and - *gasp* - create trash.

I was so focused on the things I WAS doing - asking for no straw at restaurants, handing over my mason jar for my morning frappuccino, sewing reusable bulk and produce bags, making friends with my neighborhood butcher and getting local meat and dairy products without packaging - that I didn’t have space to feel guilty over what I WASN’T doing.

As my journey progressed, this remained my mindset.

Celebrate the wins. All of them. No matter how small.

And now we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
Reusables are frowned upon. 
I’m working weird hours that aren’t conducive to cooking at home regularly.
Grocery shopping is weird now.
Cooking for one kinda sucks.
Frappuccino season is among us and there’s no more handing over of the mason jar.

For Plastic Free July, I pledged to conduct a waste audit. I used to do these regularly, but they fell to the wayside for a while. And even when I had pledged to do one last month, I kept putting it off, because deep down I was a bit nervous to confront the waste I knew I had been creating.

But I did it.

And when I looked at that page at the end of the week, my waste was basically all to-go coffee cups and takeout containers. It wasn’t a ton, but it was more than I’m used to.

And you know what? That’s okay.

I know that these are weird times. I know that this isn’t normal. I know that we’re all just trying to survive - physically, mentally, emotionally.

So, yeah, I’m creating more waste than I normally would be. But I’m also doing so much good for this planet. I’m popping into hundreds of inboxes each week, hoping to inspire and encourage our EcoWarriors to take one small action to live lighter on the planet. I’m providing tools, resources, and products to help you do the same. I’m giving back to the planet both through shop donations and through personal donations. And in the grand scheme of things, I’m really not creating all that much trash.

So, friend, I say all of this not to brag about how sustainable I am - because I’ve got a looooooong way to go in my journey, too. But with hope that it will eliminate any guilt that you may be holding onto yourself.

Sustainability is not a destination. It’s a journey. One with sharp lefts and U-turns, and so many stop signs and red lights.

Do what you can, when you can, where you can.

We’re aiming for progress here. Not perfection.

So celebrate those wins! Share them with others. Share them with me. Leave a comment below and tell me what you’re most proud of this week - whether it’s sustainability-related or not. I want to celebrate you.

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2 comments

  • Eileen

    I am not sure what your cups are made of… but it was an increase in takeout packaging that sparked my efforts to find a solution. Now we are making bottle-bricks /eco-bricks (packing plastic bottles tight with plastic bags, wrappers, styrofoam, and plastic bits… And planning to use the bottle-bricks in a community arts project, while learning about plastics-pyrolysis (boiling down mixed plastics into crude oil to make recycled fuel and brand new plastics)… Making Progress FUN… That IS Perfection in my opinion. Great article!!!

  • Aniyah Berger

    Love this! Thank you for sharing!

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