With 2022 just around the corner (I know I can hardly believe it), I wanted to reflect on my year of trying to go zero-waste. One thing I wanted to write about specifically was my zero-waste fails so I can help others avoid these same mistakes. Before I get into this blog post though, it's important to remember that perfection isn't the goal! We don't need a few people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need a lot of people doing zero-waste imperfectly in order to make a difference. So be okay with making mistakes and not being perfect. With that said, I now give to you some of my zero-waste fails from the last year!
1. Quip Floss: I was starting to see this brand Quip everywhere, and while they weren't a specifically zero-waste company, they were marketing themselves as a sustainable solution for toothbrushes and floss. I bought their refillable floss in a metal tin so that I could just replace the floss and not the whole tube each time. I haven't heard very good things about true zero-waste floss. I've heard that the floss breaks easily between your teeth and even though they come in recyclable glass jars, you're still buying new packaging with each purchase. And you really can't repurpose a floss jar for another use. This was why I decided to try my Quip floss. I really like it a lot too. Which is why I was disappointed when I got my refill pack and it came packaged in a plastic bag, and shipped in a slightly larger plastic bag! This is something that easily could have been shipped in a compostable or recyclable container so it was a bummer to see that it came in plastic. It makes it not as worth it to buy in my opinion since you aren't saving any packaging waste vs. just buying normal floss in plastic packaging!
Not sure what I'm going to do with the flosser itself but when I run out of this floss I think I'm going to try this zero-waste floss from Package Free Shop.
2. Buying Local Pick Up: Okay this in no way means you shouldn't do this or try doing this, but just a heads up to be more specific with your instructions. There is a coffee shop that comes to my local farmer's market, but he only ever has coffee beans there that aren't ground up. I don't personally own a grinder but he told me that if I order ahead of time on his website he'll grind the coffee in advance and I can pick it up at the farmer's market that weekend. It seemed like a perfect solution. Following his instructions I went to the website and ordered the coffee I wanted ground and left a note at checkout that I would be picking it up at the farmer's market that Saturday. When I arrived to pick up the coffee though he had boxed up the bag of a coffee in a huge box and taped it closed with my name on it so I couldn't just take my coffee and leave the box with him. Definitely not what I had mind! Next time I'll be more clear to not package the coffee and say I'll be bringing my own bag to pick it up.
3. Dropping Glass Jars: This might be more of a me issue, but with everything zero-waste coming in glass jars for the most part and me being super clumsy, I've dropped and broken quite a few things this past year. So much for reducing waste! If I have the option to buy in aluminum now, I definitely will!
4. Potentially Breaking My Swiffer: If you remember, a few weeks ago my Swiffer was clogged and I thought it was broken. After doing some research online I found that a 3/4 water to 1/4 white vinegar solution scrubbed onto the Swiffer nozzles helped unclog my Swiffer and get it back up and running again! I was so excited to be able to fix something I thought was broken. The excitement didn't last long though because the next week when we went to Swiffer it was clogged again. I tried the water/vinegar solution and it did nothing. I've tried a few more times now and it still isn't working. I think my homemade solution just may not be compatible with the Swiffer. I'm still going to try a few more times to get it back up and running, but by me trying to reduce waste I may have actually created more waste!
5. Feeling Defeated: I think everyone may feel like this at some point or another in their zero-waste journey but about halfway through the year I hit a wall where I felt like I wasn't making enough of a difference and definitely let a few of my low-waste habits slip. Mostly just in the form of buying things first hand when I got frustrated with not being able to find the things I wanted secondhand. I think it was good to give myself the option to not be perfect for a bit to recharge and get back into my zero-waste habits.
What mistakes have you made since going zero-waste? Leave them in the comments below!
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.