Looking beyond Zero Waste

First of all most of this post is me speaking of some of the guilt I feel. Guilt of how lucky I am. I was born into Privilege. Number one with the colour of my skin. There’s no denying that being born white means more doors are instantly opened for you. If you had said this statement to me a year ago I probably would have taken issue with it. Mainly because I’ve never seen anyone be openly racist to anyone of colour, “it’s 2019, everyone in the UK is treated equally right? Regardless if your a man, women, trans, a person of colour?” But since I became more and more apart of the zero waste movement, other articles/ influencers/ podcasts/ blogs have fallen into my lap and I’ve begun to learn. And I’ll be honest I’ve found it hard to read/listen/absorb. Did you know that if your a black women in the UK your 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than your white counter part? The figures are shocking! And after listening to the recent BBC radio 4 women’s hour on the subject I was seriously shocked at the sometimes conscious and unconscious acts that can lead to these figures being real in 2019. Let’s face it there needs to be hours and hours, well actually years and years of talking on this subject to be done and quiet frankly I have a lot more to learn before I can write openly on the subject but the point I’m making is about the privilege we are all given or not given.

Secondly I’m privileged because I was born into a stable family unit with two parents, siblings and extended family. That meant school life passed by pretty swimmingly. I wasn’t the most academic of the bunch but I was encouraged to do enough to get to college and get into university. My parents earned and saved enough that they could help me a little while at uni, I was also born in a country where getting a student loan is normal and easy. I had a home to come back to and live rent free so I could save and go travelling and then when I finally settled I had a Mum that had saved over the years and put that together with a little inheritance to help me into my first home. I now live what is probably considered a very middle class life. I’ve got a mortgage, a car, a decent job, two happy and healthy step sons and a happy and healthy daughter. I’ve got a lovely partner and although we wish we had a little more saved in the bank and are pretty careful with money, we still have nice holidays and a shiny red VW parked outside the house.

I’m telling you this because it’s easy for me to say I’m going to spend a little extra on pasta because it comes package free, or not care that the moisturiser I brought today was double the cost of the one I used to use but it comes in a refillable pot and is completely natural. It’s easy for me to say that cloth nappies and shampoo bars are going to save you money in the long run you just have to fork out the initial cost upfront because I’m lucky enough to be able to do that. And because I’m lucky enough to do that in my opinion I SHOULD!!!

Let get this straight. I’m not expecting Barbara the single Mum working full time and supporting 3 kids on her own to do this. I don’t expect her to give up the Primark habit because for her it’s not a habit it’s a necessity.

I honestly do think I spend around the same amount, if not less on day to day living while living a low impact lifestyle than I did before because some things cost a lot more but I know I spend less on others. However I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to look to much into it. The figure is a very rough one in my head.

So by all means you could read this blog or follow my Instagram and think “yeah it’s alright for her to do all that shiz” and that’s ok. But what I hope it does it just make you think. Think about the impact you have on this world. You may think its your right to be able buy clothes at a cheap price because you need them and can’t afford to shop more ethically but how does that right effect the rights of the people making the clothes? The people killed in factories that fall short of safety standards? And the cotton pickers that are so badly effected by the use of pesticides and are paid below the living wage. We don’t think about this because we can’t see it. It’s happening in third world countries and there’s a reason it’s happening there. Because huge companies can pay contractors less to get more. Meaning they are not legally required to know exactly what’s going on in those factories. It means that this IS a class problem AND a race problem. And until we address this climate change will not get any better.

The zero waste movement is wonderful in my opinion. But it’s also a very middle class movement. So we need to except that, own it and I think about how we can break the cultural and class biases because although it shouldn’t be down to the average Joe, huge companies are not going to sort the problem because that would mean dramatically less profit for them.

So it is down to us, we the privileged, that have lovely parents that have supported us, and can afford to buy the bulk pasta, and that have smart phones in our pockets to educate ourselves with information we need to break this cycle. And although it may lead us to feeling guilt we can use that guilt to make a change. Vote with your feet and walk straight past H&M and then have fun on eBay looking for some amazing second hand clothes.

Much love

Hannah xx