Deciding to go zero waste right after moving was probably a little nuts in retrospect, so many changes at once! But I’m glad we did because it allowed a lot of the changes to our routine to feel a lot more natural since it was grouped in with a lot of other life changes that come with moving.
What I’ve learned thus far, is that a lot of waste is created in the name of convenience. Sometimes, the most convenient route takes less time, but requires more waste—but not always.
Other times, the zero waste way ends up being more convenient and/or beneficial in some other way so it’s a greater win all around. If you just look at going zero waste as something that will difficult, you’ll overlook the ways that it will make your life easier.
Case in point, this week we decided to get a washer and dryer. I’ve been wanting to convert all of our paper products to cotton for a while, but since we needed to go to the laundromat when we lived in an apartment, this wasn’t always a convenient option, especially when we didn’t have enough quarters!
Now that we have a washer/dryer hookup for the first time, I want to take full advantage, but the problem was that after the expense of moving, we didn’t have a lot of money for a new set of appliances.
Enter Habitat for Humanity Restore. I’ve been reverting to my old thrifting habits since deciding to be more waste conscious. In all my years of thrifting, I hadn’t been to the Restore store before and I was surprised by how much great stuff they have. The best thing being a washer/dryer combo in excellent condition for $200, an absolute bargain considering someone offered us a used pair for $1000. So I snatched it up. Even if it only lasts a year, it will still cost less than the laundromat, so I can justify the risk if it isn’t of high quality and ends up breaking down.
2019 Update: So it’s been 3 years and that washer and dryer is still going STRONG.
Transporting it was another matter altogether, since Restore doesn’t offer delivery. While I think I would actually get a lot of use out of a pickup truck, I can’t justify owning one because of all the additional fuel and costs they require; however, there are times like these when a deal comes available at Restore or Craigslist and I wish I could just go snap it up. sigh. So again, I did some more research and I found out you can rent a pickup or a van from Home Depot for an hour for $20. Sign me up.
Then we had another issue, I needed a dolly go get this washer dryer combo up a few stairs. About a week ago, I signed up for the Old Towne Orange Nextdoor, which is a neighborhood social network. About 10% of our neighborhood is on it, and within the hour I had a couple people who offered to lend me theirs. The one we actually borrowed was four houses down. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
2019 Update: This little seed of kindness blossomed into a wonderful friendship with our neighbors. When we got home from Big Sur, they decorated our front porch to welcome us home. And every night we walk the dogs together. So don’t be afraid to reach out to your community for support and build strong bonds.
Which got me thinking, I’m an idiot if I convinced myself that living zero waste is going to be impossibly hard. I mean sure, I’m privileged enough to live within a short driving distance to Whole Foods, and in a house with a washer/dryer hookup and in a neighborhood with helpful neighbors and I realize this will not be as easy for everyone; however what I want you to consider is how much you’ve deceived yourself into thinking that some parts of this will be harder than they actually are.
I thought I was months away from getting a washer and dryer. I thought I couldn’t get used stuff off craigslist because I didn’t have a truck. But there are ways around these inconveniences that are actually convenient. You just need to keep an eye out.
I think that advertising has conditioned us to erroneously believe that some chores are much harder than they are, that way their product will appear to make our lives so much easier and save us so much time, when that isn’t always the case.
April 25, 2016