This seems to be a hot topic in the zero waste community. After reading other opinions and gathering my own thoughts from my personal life I came to a conclusion.
Yes, a zero waste life is indeed a privilege. I hear some advocates now yelling at me through their screens “No way! Zero waste is for everyone. You spend less money and have more time!”
Which is all very true. My zero waste changes have been saving me time, money and energy.
So why am I “privileged?”
The main reason, I don’t have any mental or physical health problems. People who have health issues cannot accommodate the zero waste lifestyle. This was a big epiphany moment for me for a few reasons because I first thought that this life should and could be lived by anyone if they just cared.
Then, I was sitting at work talking to my friend Stephanie and had an “oh my god” moment.
See, we work for one of the largest medical supply companies out there and we mostly deal with urology and ostomy patients. Urology patients who have to use a self catheter 1-7 times a day just so they can do the basic task of emptying their bladders. Estimated 2 billion catheters are sold yearly. Guess what these are made of? Silicone, latex and rubber.
Ostomy patients have their intestines surgically implanted through their stomach creating what’s called a stoma so they can do the other basic duty of life. They wear pouches over these stomas and their changes can vary but about one pouch per day is an average. Bet you already guessed that these products involve plastic of some sort.
Medicine bottles, syringes, medical gloves, sterile packaging for surgical tools and other hospital equipment. All these things that I don’t have to use on a day to day basis.
Do we expect these patients to stop using these supplies just because of plastic trash build up. Absolutely not. There are most likely alternatives for some or all of these products but they aren’t priority for change.
Just imagine all the pollution and trash build up we don’t think about or realize are out there because it doesn’t effect our daily lives.
While we switch to no straws or straws made from other materials there are people with disabilities who have the best success with plastic straws.
People on the Autism spectrum may not be able to use bamboo toothbrushes because of sensory issues.
There are so many things out of our control.
Policies and procedures that should be in effect by our goverment. Products that should never even of made it on the market. People aren’t as aware as we think they are about the pollution and problems of the world regardless of the ease of access with modern day internet access.
That’s why, even though I sound like a broken record, we must do our part. If we are able we need to be willing. Willing to be conscious about our life’s choices and the effects they have on our health and the environment.
All of our choices won’t be perfect & we may not be able to accommodate a full zero waste life but we can do something!
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
– Robert Swan