A Zero Waste Moment of Change

I had something very strange happen to me a few weeks ago. I contracted mumps. Yep, the mumps. That long-gone virus that I was vaccinated for as a child…vaccinated twice actually.

When I woke up one Wednesday morning with the sides of my face swollen I had no clue what the hell was going on. I felt relatively ok, but I looked like my face was quickly expanding outwards. I called in sick for work and headed down to the closest urgent care. When the doctor told me that my main symptom was basically an indicator for mumps, I couldn’t believe it. They tested me, told me I needed to quarantine myself for five days and that was about it.

I guess I was naive to think that vaccinations are some kind of unbreakable immunity when obviously they aren’t. Additionally, this whole experience has put the whole ridiculousness of parents not vaccinating their kids in a whole new light – I thought the whole issue wouldn’t apply to me, but lo, unvaccinated kids can affect long vaccinated adults like me too – who knew? Being vaccinated does have its perks though. My mumps case was relatively light mainly because I was vaccinated (twice, it bears repeating.) The only painful symptom I had was my puffed out salivary glands, which hurt both my face and my vanity.

Being quarantined for five days gives a lady some time to think and one of the things I’ve been busy thinking about is waste. I have always known that my life accumulates more waste than it should, especially now, when we all have to change the way we live if we want to keep this planet habitable. But I didn’t really know just how much waste I was contributing until I began to take stock of all the plastic around me. In short, I am surrounded by plastic packaging. I live in a palace of plastic and I never even realized it.

Since this revelation, I’ve read several accounts of people who have gone through this same transition and learned that it’s a common situation – that is, once you wake to all the plastic in your life, you can’t unsee it.

So, I am ready to begin shifting my lifestyle from plastic to no-plastic. Wasteful to zero-waste. But how does one do that? There are so many things in my home that I take completely for granted – soap, shampoo, laundry detergent – all packaged in plastic containers. My plan is to take all these things on, room by room, and begin finding alternatives.

I’m also shifting my daily behavior by always having extra reusable bags, straws, cutlery, and cups on hand. This does mean that my backpack is a little heavier than usual, but it’s worth it.

I’m going to be sharing this shift and sharing some of my learnings and setbacks right here on the blog. I hope you’ll join me on this journey away from a plastic-filled lifestyle and would love to hear your own tips and tricks for going zero-waste.

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