Day 29: Check your privilege

Zero Waste challenge
Jas (The Ginger) and Morgana (The Vegan) are undertaking the Zero Waste Challenge: finding ways to refuse, reuse, reduce, and recycle as much as possible in their lives, and ask you to join them on their journey.

Disclaimer: we are two white, middle-class students living in a city that is quite eco-friendly, with markets, eco-friendly bars and a proper cycling infrastructure.

Don’t get us wrong: this 30-day challenge was actually challenging; we found it fun, but hard. We hope some things stuck; our friends have told us they will be making lifestyle changes after watching us go through this process, so that’s fab.

But let’s design some hypothetical situations where the majority of these zero-waste swaps would be harder.

Scenario 1
You’re a single mother of four in one of the most sprawling cities in the world. You have to shop at the 24-hour Walmart because you work night shifts at a hospital.

  1. You have to buy in bulk for cost-effectiveness, which means a lot of plastic (multi-packs are always covered with it)

  2. Bikes would be impossible, public transport is unreliable, so driving is probably your safest bet if you want to get to work on time

  3. Investment purchases, like the Mooncup and a metal razor, are more daunting. The money has shorter term but necessary uses

Scenario 2
You’re a retiree living in tower blocks. You have severe arthritis and struggle holding anything. You have an ok pension and plenty of time on your hands.

  1. The safety razors are not an option, you wouldn’t want to risk an open blade

  2. You find it hard to drink sometimes without a straw

  3. Going to a market happens to be very far from your house, and you cannot make the journey there and back


Photo: Ines David

The point is, the Ginger and the Vegan are in a position of privilege that allowed us to try all of these things we've talked about in the past 28 days.

The first time I shopped without buying any plastic items, I winced at the checkout price. Committing to a plastic-free life is not cheap. Along with being able to our day-to-day shopping plastic free, we are also in a position of privilege to experiment with investment purchases. The Mooncup, had it not worked, would have totalled €20 non-refundable. For us, that is not a big deal, for others, that is one week of food.

We also live in a time and a place where the zero-waste lifestyle is becoming more and more widespread. We have access to information and products that haven’t hit other places yet. The society and communities you live in inevitably affect your life, no matter how many individual changes you make.

We hope that by experimenting and documenting everything, we helped you find something in your life you can change. The process of switching to a zero-waste lifestyle is different for everyone. You don't have to make drastic changes from day one (or ever). Just simple swaps, baby steps. Some of these are easier swaps than others. If you don't want to switch to a Mooncup for example, for whatever reason, its OK. It’s all about being honest with ourselves and doing what we can.

Luckily, the internet is amazing! There are loads of blogs and groups dedicated to the zero-waste lifestyle that can help you on your own journey towards a wasteless life.

This article is part of our 30 days  Zero Waste challenge.
Read what Jas and Morgana were up to in the past 28 days.

Day 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 2728

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