April 4, 2015

Zero Waste Lent: Self-Sufficiency + Creativity

“It’s about self-sufficiency and creativity,” I think as I swipe some homemade toothpaste out of my glass jar and onto my toothbrush. My pursuits of a zero waste lifestyle are young and fledgling. My time is spent searching for homemade recipes for products that come in plastic and squirming as someone hands me a piece of plastic and I don’t refuse out of fear. Yet, I’m slowly learning what this lifestyle is about and how it’s contributing to my wholeness as a person, while seeking the wholeness of the planet.

This Lent I’ve learned how to make toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, hair rinse, and sauerkraut. The first few things were essential—the sauerkraut was just for fun! I’ve set aside a sack of t-shirts to make into a rug. Not only have I avoided marketed products in plastic—I’ve learned new skills! Namely, coconut oil and baking soda can be used for everything!

I haven’t run out of my first batch of toothpaste or deodorant, but I when the time comes I will turn to my kitchen instead of the aisles of branded body products. Going to the store, I get down seeing the aisles and aisles of plastic wrapped products. I didn’t pay too much attention to marketing before, but I would pour over the bottles and read the labels to see which product would be best for me. Who knew my hair would be just fine with a bar of soap and Apple Cider Vinegar to be healthy and happy?

My clothes tend to get holey pretty easily, perhaps that’s the poor quality of clothing these days or my hard wear and tear on them? Anyway, I’ve learned to darn and mend my clothes. This is something that I did before starting this Lenten experiment, but while watching one documentary I mended: one pair of running pants and a sweater. It’s fulfilling to put on a piece of clothing after it is resurrected from the “to-mend.” My clothing gets a second life—saving my budget and boosting my self-sufficiency ego.

Pursuing a zero waste lifestyle encourages creativity. Looking through my cabinets and cupboards—my mind starts to wonder, “Where could I get this zero waste? Or how could I make my own? What alternatives exist? How are other people doing this?”

The toothpaste or deodorant marketed to me are out of my control. I don’t control the ingredients or packaging. But those things that I make myself, I see the ingredients and I get to re-use the packaging. But if I didn’t know that other ways exist or if I didn’t wrestle with the plastic in my house—I wouldn’t know to make my own! Creativity stems from seeing the world as it is and imagining that other ways are possible. A third way is possible.

A large part of this journey has stemmed from my faith formation and my Christian beliefs about the way the world should be. I believe that God created the world and named it “good” and I believe that being created in God’s image gifts us with God’s creative energy. The ability to create and imagine anew. I don’t have to be stuck in the rut of consuming only what society tells me to consume, but I have the creative power to say “No! I’m gonna make my own toothpaste (without microbeads to boot!).”

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