I’ve been getting stuck on this question for awhile now. Whether or not I feel as if I have to “do without” now that I avoid unnecessary food packaging and single use plastic. Do I really, though? I tell people “No” over and over but sometimes I think I do feel a little resentment for getting used to convenience in prepackaged food that I no longer purchase out of guilt. There are times I walk through the cookie/chip aisle like Charlie Bucket staring into the candy store. There are days when I’d do anything to have a Blizzard from Dairy Queen especially if the flavor of the month has something to do with brownie pieces. And s’mores! What’s summer without s’mores? But it’s all. packaged. in. plastic. I’m beginning to wonder if when I say “No” to that question I’m being truly honest with myself. I have so many associated memories to packaged food from my childhood that it makes me sad to think that I have to avoid it now to prove a point that waste is bad – that we should all just stop buying anything packaged in plastic.
Summer is fast approaching and my husband and I camp, a lot. I absolutely cannot imagine a trip without sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows for s’mores. It’s what truly makes summer evenings fun! Yes, they are loaded with preservatives and a million other bad things but they’re s’mores! Am I being selfish? Am I being just like every other consumer? Should I feel terrible for wanting to eat this childhood favorite going further? Should I just attempt to make all of the components from scratch to once again, prove a point of sustainability? Or should I just eat the damn s’mores? Shouldn’t living a zero waste lifestyle be more about balance and happiness? Should I have to “give up” everything that makes me happy? Maybe those things never really made me happy. (I’m lactose intolerant so the Blizzard’s definitely didn’t after the fact) Maybe food is another form of materialism that we think is doing anything more than getting digested. I don’t know.
Now, there are a lot of items that I lust for but am happy I avoid later. I’ve cut a lot of junk out of my diet that, though I’d love to have in my mouth, I’m ever grateful for my resilience to avoid it. To me, that proves there’s a difference. There are things that we want that are happy we don’t use and there are things that truly add value to our lives – despite how insignificant and “plastic-packaged” they are.
Yes, always look for alternatives to things you miss and at least give them a try – but if something in your zero waste endeavor is making your miserable, then my advice is to opt for happiness – not convenience – but happiness.
My trash jar might get a little fuller this summer – but the amount I’ve reduced in last year, I think, merits some balance. I might feel a little different about this whole question down the road, but for now – I’m going to eat the damn s’mores.