If you read environmental news, you may have stumbled across articles within the last week or so on a new type of edible straw. This article from Fast Company contains some unfortunate wording about these alternatives to wasteful, single-use, ocean-polluting plastic straws:
It’s not about the consumer sacrificing anymore, it’s about the consumer having fun and being sustainable at the same time.
Anymore? When was it about sacrificing?
And I don’t know that I would describe a straw as fun. Skating is fun, playing pool is fun, attending a concert is fun…
However, if you must have a straw in your third margarita, but have abandoned your cocktail to go whoop it up on the dance floor with the Adonis of a bartender who has eyed you all night long (now that sounds like fun…), when the bar staff tosses this seaweed-based straw in the trash, it will eventually break down rather than lodge in a turtle’s nose.
But back to that ascetic life of perpetual self-denial (not the name of my elementary Catholic school growing up)…
By choosing to live more sustainably, I sacrifice:
- Unhealthy processed, food-like substances that don’t taste all that great
- Colds and other minor illnesses (I get sick WAY less often than I used to)
- Excess stuff I don’t need and which requires maintenance and dusting during its (usually short) life
- Spending lots of money on said stuff
- Working more to earn more money to buy said stuff
We environmentalists have not done a good job if the majority of people equate reducing their carbon footprint with a life of self-flagellation, self-denial and utter drudgery. By dropping out of consumer culture (even just a little bit), you actually gain much more than you lose.
Take food. Back when we went plastic-free, our diet changed more than anything else. No more eating store-bought cookies, or crackers, or cereal, or snacks or fizzy drinks. No chocolate bars, or tea bags or even sliced bread.
Hmmm, that does kind of sound like self-denial…
What we eat today
Bread and water
Would you like a drink with that?
We snack less but when we do want a treat…
Farmers market fruit and vegetables make healthy snacks… (and dinners)
Fruit trees are zero waste and zero work…
…in California at least.
We eat a wider variety of meals than I’ve included here. On this blog, I post recipes for food that most of us have become accustomed to buying in shiny plastic packages. So I don’t have recipes for dishes like a green salad, or steamed vegetables or macaroni and cheese. You don’t really need instructions for cooking those zero-waste style. For dishes like that, your zero-waste challenges confront you in the store.
We eat simple food that tastes delicious. Sustainability and enjoying life are not mutually exclusive states of being. I would argue they depend on one another.
Does this look like sacrifice to you?