Covid Earth - copyright Miroslava Chrienova

In the news, I cannot miss an article about the pandemic and my zero waste approach. Getting started with waste reduction is not easy. We see our pile of garbage, but where to start? How far am I ready to commit? Where can I find stores that offer bulk purchases? What are my prerogatives that I do not want to derogate from? … Lots of questions at the start. But when a tsunami upsets even the fundamental of buying, it is almost impossible to stick to its ecological ambitions.

At the start of the year, it is customary to challenge yourself through good resolutions. And for me, it was zero waste. I wanted to drastically reduce my amount of waste and therefore change my consumption pattern. It was 2020. The year of great upheaval.

Zero waste lifestyle

The year had started so well. My resolve to reduce my trash as much as possible was progressing, not without some difficulty. But I went step by step, finding solutions as and when the unexpected happened. I had ended up throwing out a 20-liter trash can every 2-3 weeks. Far from the jar of zero waste specialists, I grant it. But it was already a victory for me. I had bought bags to carry my bulk purchases, fruits and vegetables. I still had to organize myself for my containers - which I forgot very (too) often. 

Then the pandemic changed my daily life, and so of the whole planet. My resolution was stopped dead. My whole organization during my purchases, set back

Bulk on progress - copyright Delphine F.

The only store (and yes, no real choice) where I could actually do zero waste has revised its copy to limit the spread of the virus. The bulk was closed and the products packaged in plastic. The cashiers or the preparers refused to touch the bags so my boxes ...

Incidentally, cashiers or other cashiers in the US fill the bags with your purchases. This is often a student job and tips are allowed. Several times I have been thanked for filling my grocery bags myself. French habits persist even after several years.

Shopping cart - copyright Oleg Magni

But what really reduced my efforts to nothing; I stopped shopping. At the onset of the pandemic, we found out that we were expecting our second child. A beautiful ray of sunshine in this darkness. And to prevent any possible risk, we decided that I will stay at home. So my husband took care of the shopping. He wanted to please everyone, chocolate milk carton, potato chips, yogurts… easy prepackaged purchases. He was getting to the point and as quickly as possible.

Waste - copyright Magda Ehlers

I couldn't cook as much as I did and make the snacks - we bought. We had meals delivered by local restaurants, to help overcome (survive) this recession. I kept as many plastic boxes as possible but too many after a while. We also did online shopping - overpacking liquid products or meats, a great American specialty. 

From a trash bag thrown out every 2-3 weeks, we fell back to one every week. I couldn't do anything about it. I no longer had control over the purchases. And this is the whole difficulty of the zero waste approach. You are dependent on the involvement of your family circle, but also on the suppliers of your food and products of all kinds. 

Trash bag - copyright Thirdman

My husband does not want to take the lead. And my daughters are too young to understand why mom doesn't want to buy an overwrapped treats. However, to succeed in reducing its waste, the family must be involved at a minimum, each at their own level. One person cannot carry this whole organization on their shoulders.

I don't really have a choice in stores - I want to combine quality products with merchants who accept my containers. One of my prerogatives that I would not give up: healthy food with little or no chemicals. 

I don't feel like going for miles so I limit my search to pro-zero waste businesses in nearby towns. And for some products, you have no choice but to order online.

Tree - copyright Larisa K.

However, I know this is just a bad time. Life will resume its course. Moreover, I redo shopping and I find my daily gestures while being respectful of barrier gestures. I offer my bags at the checkout, the bulk opens little by little ... 

I am also hopeful that this pandemic will have highlighted the need to buy local. With factories around the world closed and international trade blocked, it was not possible to supply as usual. Local relays have been set up, factories opened to fill the gaps.

Finally, I am not alone. Around me, I am accompanied by people with the same sensitivity, the same approach in waste reduction. We help each other, we give each other our tips, the best addresses ... We motivate each other to stay the course. This virus will not have overcome our belief that we are on the right track ... Simply that we are acting for the good of all.