Living A 'Zero-Waste Life' Is Only Possible If You're Privileged

Living A 'Zero-Waste Life' Is Only Possible If You're Privileged

Thank you for your dedication to the environment, but check your privilege.

Didriks / Flickr

So, you're zero waste. Good for you, and thank you for your commitment to creating a healthier environment.

However, just know that you're privileged.

Before you go around lecturing people about how they should to make the commitment to be zero waste, understand that this is not possible for everyone, and the fact that you can live this lifestyle means that you have privilege.

About a year ago, I first heard about this "zero waste" movement. For those who do not know, a "zero waste" lifestyle means that you produce zero waste.

Yup, you heard me, none. Zilch.

This lifestyle choice includes buying in bulk with resources such as glass containers, never buying food in non-recyclable packaging, and much more so that nothing gets sent to the landfills. I often ponder people's dedication to this lifestyle. Seriously, if you think about it, you have to think of everything down to how you're going to get your shampoo. It's a humongous lifestyle change and is a laudable one at that. Honestly, I have so much respect for people who can do it; their commitment to a healthier earth is wonderful.

While I have never attempted zero waste, I began to come around to the idea of really watching my carbon footprint. I began to notice little things I could change to reduce my waste. I started using reusable grocery bags, using washcloths rather than paper towels, and much more. I mean, the littlest form of reduction helps, right? This is where I suddenly became apprehensive about this movement.

The other day I was ordering my diabetes supplies for my insulin pump. These supplies include disposable-only tubing, plastic contraptions, and tools sealed in tons of trash. With my waste reduction thought process turned on, I realized that getting these supplies without the waste that comes with it is unfeasible, as it protects and keeps my medical material sanitary.

Thousands of people have this disease and there is no option to clean this equipment as it would lead to infection and is just not possible. It's waste, but it's necessary waste. Upon the thousands living with type one diabetes are people with other medical complications. People who rely on all sorts of supplies that will eventually end as waste to keep them alive.

You can make drastic changes to your lifestyle even if you have complications not allowing you to be zero waste. Examples include, but are not limited to, using reusable water bottles, bringing your own travel mugs to coffee shops, and recycling as much as you can. These are little, but make a huge impact.

I am not advocating that people just start tossing everything in landfills, as I know how positive a zero-waste lifestyle could affect the planet. All that I am saying is that before you go lecturing people about how they too should dedicate time into a zero waste lifestyle, check your privilege — It really is not possible for a large number of people.

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