Caution, contradictions ahead.
Two things have been heavily on my mind about the ZW movement lately. One, the high burden zero waste efforts place on women on the domestic home front; and two, the increasingly frustrated feeling that those with all the privilege and resources aren't doing enough.
What's really feasible for busy working families who want to reduce their environmental impact? The intersection of gender politics, economics, cultural norms, and accessibility with sustainability initiatives is complex. The ZW inspo of immaculate kitchens and hand-made everything puts a lot of pressure on women who already do the heavy lifting on the home front on top of a full day of work. After all, it was the rise of convenient, packaged food that partially contributed to women's ability to get out of the house in the first place. However, there is a lot of rah-rahing going on around here (hello echo-chamber) about how we should applaud everyone "doing their best." In words that stuck with me from @ajabarber, "I'm finding sentiments like this pretty problematic because if the privileged world were doing their collective best, we wouldn't be in this mess, right?"
Let's get real.
Making your own mayonnaise might not be feasible (this time-consuming shadow work will derail your efforts), but if you have the access and finances to buy it in a glass jar, you should. We need to move outside of our comfort zones and stop applauding the bare minimum of waste reduction. For those with the time and resources (like me!), we must consistently apply ourselves to choosing conservation over consumption even when it feels hard (because our future and our children's future depends on us). This takes a changed way of thinking and sacrifice, but we can't live in denial of this crisis. The truth is millions in the western world and other affluent societies can and should make up the difference for those that have extra barriers. Let's not water this down when our collective backs are against the wall. This is not someone else's problem and it's not going to fix itself.
First, just buy less. For gosh sakes, folxs with less money and privilege have been living a more sustainable lifestyle by default since time-immemorial. Second, make more, and use what you have, pick recyclable packaging every chance you can if it's in your budget, quit fast fashion, eat less meat, stop buying plastic/disposables, and cut down or cut out the to-go packaging. But here's the contradiction: push yourself, but don't judge yourself if you're too busy and stressed to make your own crackers. Let go of the judgemental and controlling aspect of ZW, or you'll go insane.
Intentional living in Portland, OR
I take sustainability personally. Really personally. I use my voice to advocate for plastic-free and low-waste living by offering tips, tricks and hacks to busy families through my Instagram account @eco.emily.pdx. When I have something really long to say about something, I'll stick it here.