I’m great at guilt-tripping myself. If guilt-tripping yourself was a competitive sport I could well be a professional player on national level. Which isn’t a good thing, by the way. It sucks.
Sadly the whole litter problem isn’t an exception to this massively unfortunate talent of mine. I am always not good enough. There is always something where I’m willing to sacrifice an option with less single-use plastic for my own comfort and afterwards I’ll beat myself up for it, first for not choosing the plastic free option, then for allowing myself this luxury, then for being angry at myself for allowing myself this luxury. It actually follows me through the day then because I’m really really bad at letting things go that I’ve done wrong (or think that I have done wrong).
Strangely in a world of “treat yo’self” and general indulgence it’s surprisingly easy to feel in the wrong for material choices. For some it’s veganism, for other it’s trends, for me it’s sustainability, plastic avoidance and general eco-friendliness that I am trying to achieve but feel like I horribly fail with.
I just can’t keep a capsule wardrobe. I’ve tried but I am too vain to be content with so little choice.
I keep buying my favourite vegetarian jelly dinos even though they are packaged in plastic and are sugary and therefore also unhealthy.
I was too lazy/tired/hurty to go to the supermarket further away and bought plastic-packaged yoghurt out of convenience.
I’m still not as good as [insert sustainability/zero waste blogger here].
I know that most of this is utter bullshit. So what if I can’t keep a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon, the post is already in the making), most of my clothes are thrifted anyway. So I allow myself to slip up for my favourite treat once in a while. That’s okay. So I didn’t go the extra ten minutes to the other supermarket. Who cares.
The thing is, even typing this feels horrible. I have this stupid, unhealthy urge to save the world all by myself, to eradicate single-use plastic (and banality, while we’re at it) as a one-woman superhero team.
The thing is, that’s absolutely unrealistic.
We live in an age where we can’t really go without plastic if we still want to stay connected to the world around us. My phone, my tablet, my laptop, my means of communication are all made of plastic. My rain coat is made of some kind of non-natural fiber. I take a plastic bottle with me to work because glass would be so much heavier, and I also use it when I go swimming because I’m afraid of a glass bottle slipping from my hands, covering the floor in shards (and I’m not even sure if glass bottles are allowed inside our local indoor pool). I can’t get feta cheese without plastic and it’s literally not possible to get non-plastic packaged toilet paper here in Germany (there used to be a brand in the 90s that packaged in paper, I remember that from my childhood). And I kind of refuse to switch to reusable toilet cloths because even my eco-friendliness has its bounds.
The thing is that I try. And I have to learn that trying and being happy about my personal progress is better than trying and beating me up about not being perfect.
The thing is that there are so many tiny triumphs to be celebrated that if I actually celebrated them I wouldn’t even have time to beat myself up.
The thing is that I should just do that.
So here are my tiny triumphs from the last few weeks:
Seeing Rusty switch from bottled water to a refillable glass bottle for work.
Learning that yes, I still have single use plastic but it’s mere 150g in one week!
Finding a milk packaging made of 40% chalk which makes for less dead dinosaur-based packaging than your usual milk crate.
Re-using the waxed paper from our farmer’s market cheese.
Getting through my menstrual cycles without any “female hygiene” (just call it menstruation, ffs!) product waste.
Avoiding the offered plastic-and-paper bags at the supermarket’s baked goods isle once more by just stuffing the bread into my normal, washable canvas bag.
Collecting litter in the park during a walk after a grumpy cashier at the supermarket purposely overheard my “I don’t need a bag, thank you” for my one bagel-without-anything-on-it. With said bag.
Sure, nothing among those things count as world-shattering. But they still count, and they still make me happy. I’ll have to concentrate on that instead of making me relive my slip-ups again and again and again. I’m currently at my Mum’s and I’m going to make produce bags for her trips to the supermarket because she doesn’t have the time to but I do. And that’s another triumph.
I’m fed up with beating myself up for not being the perfect zero-waste blogger or a shining example of sustainability. I’m doing my best and that’s a pretty good thing to do. And I hope you don’t feel bad, either.
What tiny triumphs have you had lately, sustainability-wise or other? I want to read about them in the comments!
Let’s count our blessings, not our curses!
Pictures are a teaser from my latest urbexing trip. More to come!