downsides to low waste living – six months in review
Photo by Sylvie Tittel
Author: Laura Yurincich
Thinking of transitioning to a low waste or "zero waste" lifestyle? Had some difficulties? You’re not alone! Bare Market Blogger Laura discusses some of the cons she has experienced during her first six months.
My transition to a low waste lifestyle began when I moved into my new home in July 2018. Now that I’ve hit the six month mark, it’s become pretty easy and I’m enjoying many of the perks that come with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle (saving money! saving the environment!). But let’s be real, there are a few downsides that cannot be ignored.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao
I love coffee. I have to limit myself to three cups a week (doctor’s orders), so you better believe that I want those three cups to be the greatest cups ever. But in the past six months… they have sucked. All of them.
Back in July I purchased a second hand French press in order make coffee without any waste.
I rationalized that since the French press doesn’t require any disposable filters, I could easily make amazing coffee at home; compost the grounds, and bring my coffee to work with me each day. Low waste win, right? Then I made the first cup, and the second, and the third, and the seventeenth. They were all terrible. I don’t know what is up, but I cannot seem to master this coffee maker. I’ve watched youtube tutorials, read articles, switched coffee beans, and borrowed my mom’s spice grinder in order to grind the beans at home. Nothing has helped. Each cup has come out either too weak, too oily (how???) or has a thick smoothie-like consistency.
I don’t know how I am doing this, but I am managing to screw up something most people in the world have effortlessly mastered. If you have any tips, please share. I’m one bad cup away from hiring a personal barista.
One easy swap to reduce your plastic dependency is switching to a bamboo toothbrush. Generally there are two types.
- Bamboo handle with bamboo or other “plant-based” bristles – supposedly fully compostable
- Bamboo handle with nylon bristles – the bristles are not compostable
In the past six months I have tried three different brands of bamboo toothbrushes, both with bamboo bristles and nylon bristles and they all seem to have a common problem – the bristles keep falling out. This is a minor problem, but it is annoying nonetheless to be brushing your teeth one second, and choking on seven bristles the next.
I’ll be trying bare market’s bamboo toothbrushes soon, so I’ll keep you posted with a review.
In order to save money, I try making most of my meals at home. When I do eat out, I have gotten into the habit of bringing my own container and have even “trained” the wonderful women who work at the coffee shop below my work to skip the paper packaging and put my egg and cheese bagel straight into my tiffin.
However, when I try a new place for a to-go meal the reaction I get is...mixed. Most times they’re happy to fulfill my request after a brief explanation as to what I’m trying to do. Yet, there are many restaurants who refuse to put food in my containers, without any logical explanation as to why (it doesn’t violate any health standards). I truly don’t get it.
Instead of getting frustrated when refused, I merely thank them for their time and leave (hungry), hoping that in the future they may change their mind and take small steps to become a more sustainable business.
Overall, transitioning to a low waste lifestyle has been worth it, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. This shouldn’t discourage you though! Nothing good comes easy. Take a look at other bare market blogs for many of the pro’s that come with adopting a sustainable lifestyle and be inspired to make a change!
About the author: Laura graduated with a Master's Degree in Political Science from McMaster University, and is currently a hardworking bureaucrat. She was drawn to bare market for its package free laundry detergent, but has stayed to share her experience transitioning to a low waste lifestyle.
Re: Toothbrushes, I have been using a Brush with Bamboo brand brush for the last month or so and I can honestly say that I have never had a single bristle fall out. The handles are made with organic bamboo and the bristles are made with castor bean oil. My one caveat is to order the kid size if you have a small mouth; I ordered the adult size and find it a little bit bigger than I like.
I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed coffee snob, and I’ve tried just about every at-home brewing method there is. Right now we have a stovetop moka pot and a Chemex, both of which make a very different cup of coffee. I love my Chemex, and it’s the closest I’ve gotten to a coffee shop style pourover. I even have a reusable cotton filter for it (called ‘Coffee Sock’)!
I second Christine’s suggestion. I’ve never tried making espresso in a moka pot myself, but have had it at a family friend’s house and it came out pretty good
Thanks for sharing your experiences. My partner loves coffee and our waste free alternative is a stovetop espresso maker. It comes in different sizes so you can buy one based on how much you drink a day. We get our fresh grinds from Rialto Espresso Bar (some of the best coffee we’ve ever had). We typically make Americanos using this method.