F*ck the zero-waste movement.

This isn’t about how it’s ableist or pretentious, or even about how attempting to go zero-waste can feel monumentally overwhelming. It’s about the guilt. Guilt eats people up, and when you get sucked up into the zero-waste guilt vortex while you have a restrictive eating disorder, everything in your life gets fucked.

Plastic bag full of trash

I realized I had a problem when I was in the hospital in September, lying on the uncomfortable ER mattress because I couldn’t figure out how in the world to raise up the bed and didn’t have my glasses to properly read the remote to figure it out. (Turns out, the button was at the head of the bed, unreachable to me.) The social worker in psychiatry was talking to me, to help me find affordable options for eating disorder recovery, because my malnutrition was apparently a bigger issue than I expected.

I’ll look at food sometimes and think about the packaging it came in, and wonder, “Why? Why should I be so much more wasteful? I’m already wasting food on me, and now I’m ruining the environment.”

You know what? Maybe it is about how ableist the zero-waste movement is. In all those studies about how “better” it is for people’s health, I want to know if any studies were conducted on people on the more severe side of the scale. I’m not into functioning labels or competition about whose depression is worse, but I sincerely believe eco-friendly living is going to be simpler for the people with fewer disabilities and less aspects of their mental health they have to worry about.

Every now and then, I think, Oh, I’d love to own less stuff! and I consider giving my crap away, but then I realize one key factor that sets me apart from everyone else: I’ve a history of suicidal tendencies. I attempted suicide twice in my life. If I start downsizing my shit, people are gonna talk—and by talk, I mean I’m going to walk out of my room to find an intervention. It’s inevitable, now that my family knows about my eating disorder and there’s no way I can hide my problem now.

Which really makes me curious: Where are the loved ones to these people who are downsizing so much that they own very few? Why are we encouraging a high-alert for suicide to everyone, telling them to forget about anyone who doesn’t understand? Why is there no concern? The zero-waste, minimal living movement really seems to undermine signs of several mental illnesses with fatal effects.

I’m pissed. I’m pissed at myself, but I’m also pissed at the zero-waste movement. It’s ableist and encourages people who have waste of any unnatural kind to feel guilty.

I don’t know what else to say here. I just had a thought as I was reading this post about a zero-waste period, wherein the blogger then went on to shame people who purchase more reusable pads than they need even if it’s what made them happy, whether because of the pattern or just because they enjoyed having enough pads to wear everyday. (People totally wear cloth pads for everyday use; I even do, because as I get older I realize I pee a little when I laugh too hard or sneeze.) She didn’t just shame them in one line, either—she detailed how wasteful it is to buy “more than you need” by explaining the why, then told them to make their own(??) if they want more.

…why are we so caught up in limiting each other to what we think everyone else “needs”, even in the event of them wanting it? It’s like when I know I don’t need another doughnut, but I want another doughnut…and these days, I’m eating that fucking doughnut because I starved myself for 16 years and I fucking can.

I can say that I wanted to write this post, in some way or another, because it’s important to me to make it clear that I don’t advocate for the zero-waste lifestyle. I believe human beings are a fallible species. I also know what a privilege it is to have any eco-friendly products at all, for a variety of reasons. My posts reflect my own efforts.

While I do dream of a future friendlier to the planet, it does not consume me (as it shouldn’t). I think humanity is too far gone in terms of achieving complete sustainability—which, yeah, totally morbid and all—anytime soon. What I’ve noticed creates the biggest, best waves are the smaller acts of a greener lifestyle. I mean, Tampax—the tampon brand—has come out with a menstrual cup.

Little by little, the reusable menstrual products (RUMPs) community has spoken out until recently, when you can go to nearly any eco-friendly blog and find they’ve been there, done that with a menstrual cup or cloth pad within the last 1-3 years. The difference between the zero-waste movement and the RUMPs movement? People made RUMPs accessible, at least in regards to the cloth pads. People who couldn’t make their own, depending on where they lived, could purchase them—prices varying, but I’ve seen cloth pads quite low, so.

Yeah. So. Fuck the zero-waste movement. This is where I stand. In case anyone was curious.

It reminds me of Project Gutenberg, re: accessibility. Equity commonly results in things that don’t fit into tiny, well-articulated check boxes.

P.S. About the doughnut: I do need it, because alas I do not know which thought is the eating disorder or which is actually me, but my body craves the doughnut while my head screams no, and right now? The body wins.

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Comments on this post

Well, I think this post touched on the problems with movements like these, & that’s that many in it have a very all or nothing attitude, along with gigantic egos to boot. Sure they’ll say ‘small things make a difference!’ & ‘you can start with small changes’, but unfortunately this attitude often doesn’t manifest irl or online. Meaning that whatever you do it’s never enough for those pretentious types, they’ll find some way to criticize you anyway. I question whether those people deep down even want the changes they claim to, because how would they fees their egos by humblebragging, shaming, acting holier than thou, etc.?

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This post makes me think about a conversation I had with my friends one day, during which they thought I was a quack. We have become wasteful as human beings, but I feel like what else can you do? We have brought ourselves to this place where there is no turning back. We purchase and use things for convenience, and I admit, convenience is lovely. But anyway, I got to thinking about landfills and how toxic they are to our planet. It made me wonder why we don’t just rocket shit to the sun. While my friends laughed at me, I took to google, wondering is this was ever a consideration and if so, why it hasn’t happened yet. Simply put – funding. Money. The root of all evil. Wouldn’t it just be amazing to get rid of all of this shit by simple incinerating it by use of the sun? A girl can dream I guess.

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