There’s been a lot of fuss recently about a company deleting some comments on its Instagram page. The comments questioned the intersectionality of the zero waste movement and its inclusiveness. So I decided to share some thoughts on it.
I think that the problem is not the movement itself but how it is presented. It is presented, at least to me, as a process when if you follow some given steps you end up at the end of the year with a tiny jar of glass, of course, showing how little garbage you produced. And I have issues with this, firstly because it displays being zero waste as black or white, you either do it perfectly or you don’t and it should be shown as a journey. Why a journey you might ask, well the way I see it that there is a whole range of greys you could go and it would still be good. Secondly it is misleading to show a tiny jar and consider it’s all the garbage you produced. Most of the zero waste bloggers I read recycle a good share of packaging and recycling is far from perfect, plastic and paper are downcycled which means they can only be recycled a certain amount of times and then they end up in the landfill. And if the person lives in Scandinavia all of that is burnt to produce heating, which is quite wasteful. Besides it also ignores the amount of garbage produced in the process of making the food they buy. For example even if you buy in a bulk market the products you buy where transported with packaging which you can’t assume to be recyclable. I don’t mean that it is wrong, what I mean is that this whole idea of making it appear to be perfect is not different to a fashion magazine showing a picture of a photoshopped model on its cover, it doesn’t mean that the model is ugly I just mean that it is a distorted image.
On the intersectionality of the issue I can only talk about poverty. I live in Argentina which, some of you might know, means that we have high inflationary rates, awful exchange rates and a closed economy. So I can’t buy most of the products you see on other zero waste pages. And buying second-hand is rather new and you can’t find most products. It was discouraging at first because I felt that I was never going to do it “right”. After the initial disappointment what I did is try to be creative, try to do the best with what I have. (I promise I’ll be posting the things I do). There is not a single solution and the solution that works for someone who is in the United States or Europe might not work for someone living in any other country. There is no cookie cutter solution, find what better suits you and your lifestyle.
It shouldn’t be about we against them or whatever but if some people are feeling excluded we need to talk about it and fix what needs to be fixed. I do not believe that the zero waste movement is the problem but the whole idea of doing it Pinterest-perfect is. We have to understand that sometimes perfect is just getting started and that baby steps are better than no steps.
I would love to know your views! Open my mind, show me how you see it! There is no right or wrong just different views.
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