My Zero Waste Fails: Learn to Overcome Eco-Guilt

Do you feel like you could never achieve a zero-waste lifestyle? Too overwhelmed to even get started? I totally understand!

My zero waste fails are plentiful.

plastic disposable cups and plastic spoon

For a long time, I just kept my head buried in the sand. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore the problem than to figure out how to make the change. Yep, that was me. I ignored the plastic pollution problem for years.

Then little by little, I started to learn more and become more aware of the war on waste.

Due to the allergies and the mast cell activation syndrome my daughters and I have, I began learning how chemicals in cleaning products, personal care products, and even in plastic food storage containers can harm our bodies.

So for about the past 9 years, I have been searching for safe products to use in our home that wouldn’t cause us to have these allergic reactions. While I was at it, I read about how the chemicals in plastic were harming our health too, and naturally, this type of research about plastic led me to many articles about eliminating single-use plastic and reducing our waste overall.

So my journey came full circle, and I realized that we not only need to use alternatives to plastic to protect our health but also to protect the health of our environment.

So even though I have the new passion to reduce the amount of plastic our family uses and reduce the plastic waste we create, my zero waste fails are still abundant.

EXAMPLES OF MY ZERO WASTE FAILS

Recently I had to take my daughters to their doctor appointments at the children’s hospital. Due to timing, we needed to eat lunch at the hospital and ended up with a plastic spoon, plastic cup, and straw for my daughter’s shake, and a plastic cup and straw for my iced coffee – which was much needed after a long commute and appointment!

Then a few days later, I escaped for an hour to our nearby Starbucks to redeem my free birthday drink reward. I was so excited to have a little time to myself to relax while my husband was home with the kids. After all, we were in the middle of a 4-day weekend, and he had been out of town this week too.

I was feeling blessed that my wonderful husband took over at home so I could have a little downtime, but when I ordered my iced Americano I realized I was failing again as I took the plastic cup and straw from the barista.

Speaking of coffee, you may be noticing that I love coffee! I thought I was doing a decent job at home since I’m using stainless steel travel mugs, reusable insulated cups, and reusable stainless steel straws when I drink iced coffee.

However, I’m failing when it comes to my daily use of the traditional K-cups and am disappointed in the amount of plastic I’m throwing into the trash every day.

disposable k-cups

WHY AM I SHARING THESE STORIES?

Zero waste is a journey, and we may never get to the goal of being completely zero waste. Anne-Marie Bonneau, The Zero-Waste Chef, said it best in this Instagram post.

So “enjoy the trip” as Anne-Marie says, and as you see these situations in your own life, take note and decide if you can live a “low-waste” lifestyle while aiming for the goal of zero waste…even if you never get there.

Every little change we make can have a big impact. Little by little, we can make a difference together.

LESSONS FROM MY ZERO WASTE FAILS

  1. It’s ok to enjoy life! There may be some circumstances when you weren’t able to plan ahead or when you just want to enjoy an experience and not feel guilty, like my trip to Starbucks. That’s ok. Do what you can, when you can.
  2. Plan ahead as much as possible and think ahead to situations you may encounter. For example, if you think you will be stopping at the grocery store on your way home from work, make sure your reusable grocery bags and produce bags are in your car.
  3. Get more Eco-friendly Friendly Tips for Your Family and download 10 Simple Eco-Friendly Swaps for some quick simple ideas!
  4. Consider making a zero-waste or low-waste tool kit to keep in your bag or purse. You can check out my zero-waste tool kit on a budget to get ideas for your own.
  5. Politely ask that servers and cashiers at restaurants refrain from serving you plastic cups, straws, or utensils. Instead, ask for reusable items or use your own from your zero-waste tool kit.
Zero Waste Tool Kit

In the end, remember that a zero-waste lifestyle is not about being perfect. If we all make these little changes to reduce our waste, we will make a positive impact on our environment overall.

Do you ever feel that you’re failing at your zero-waste goals too? Does anything keep you from getting started? Share your thoughts in the comments below or drop me a line at [email protected] I would love to hear from you!

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Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

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14 Comments

  1. March 14 / 6:18 AM

    This is great! Reducing waste is better than ignoring it. It’s really hard to eliminate it completely, but you’re doing the best you can and that’s what matters. If everyone does their share we can make a difference together!

    • Rebekah
      March 14 / 7:39 AM

      Thanks Jacqueline! If we all do a little bit, it’s better than doing nothing at all, right?

  2. March 14 / 6:37 AM

    Many thanks for your conscious choices. We are all a work in progress. I call it the eternal onion. We peel off layer by layer and when you think you’ve reached the center….BAM! You’re presented with another onion, LOL! All we can do is make as many thoughtful choices as we can. Thank you for sharing!

    • Rebekah
      March 14 / 7:38 AM

      Great analogy Suzan! I appreciate your support and perspective.

  3. March 14 / 10:55 AM

    We love when we see this kind of posts cause we think there is a lack of awareness on this topic!

    We also try to be as sustainable as possible, but as you pointed is not an easy task.

    There are many ways to contribute and be willing to do it is already a win! Great stuff:)

    • Rebekah
      March 14 / 11:36 AM

      Thanks for your support, Sergio! I’m hoping that by raising awareness people will be inspired to make some easy changes to inch towards being sustainable. Thanks for doing your part!

  4. March 14 / 4:06 PM

    I love this! I have been trying hard to reduce our waste as a family and even though we have come a long way, I can often feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. It’s important to remember that it is okay if we don’t always remember to plan ahead and to try to do better in the future. Plastic straws are my downfall and even though I have significantly decreased how much coffee I purchase, I still occassionally grab one on the go and I have yet to get myself reusable straws.

    • Rebekah
      March 14 / 4:45 PM

      I feel the same, but remind myself that each change I make is a step in the right direction! Since I’ve put together my Zero-Waste Tool Kit, I’ve been able to refuse the straw even if I order iced coffee or my daughter buys a milkshake. One step at a time! 😉 Thanks for your response!

  5. March 15 / 8:33 AM

    This is a great post! I am in the same boat as you … my vice is Ziploc freezer bags. i do a lot of food preservation and storage, and I do reuse them as I can … but I can’t wrap my head around total replacement. I think that being aware of it and doing what we can is an awesome step. Anything we do is something, and the more we do the better. I try to make smarter shopping choices and the packaging that comes from online shopping also makes me feel so guilty … but I’m in an area where some things I just can’t buy locally. Anyway – we do what we can, one thing at a time. 🙂

    • Rebekah
      March 16 / 4:12 PM

      Darcy, thanks for your feedback. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I have made the switch from Ziploc bags for food storage, except when it comes to freezing (like you). It’s definitely a journey and being more aware helps us all make these tiny changes each day!

  6. April 17 / 8:13 AM

    Hey, Thanks for sharing the post. It is much appreciated effort. Small things will make a big difference.

    • Rebekah
      April 21 / 9:41 PM

      Thank you! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  7. November 10 / 5:45 PM

    Hi! Tayste coffee sells biodegradable k-cups and it’s also delicious!

    • Rebekah
      November 11 / 10:26 AM

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely check those out.

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