Have you heard about how much weight people have lost when switching to a zero waste lifestyle?
They shop wholefoods, ditch junk food, detox and are living cleaner then ever, maybe even gone the full vegan. Today I'm going to burst your bubble on this. NO, the zero waste lifestyle doesn't result in weight loss and YES it is quite easy to get fatter, it's happened to me and I'll tell you exactly why!
This is a tell it like it is post, and it's purely based on some very real facts, my experiences and of course my personal opinions. There may be some coarse language, sarcasm and truth bombs, so be warned, but not offended (and I hope you have a giggle)
Just for clarification, I don't believe in the ideal body portrayed in magazines and media, but I do think we all have an ideal weight where we feel comfortable and no, I'm not talking about appearances. You can totally be at your ideal weight and still sport a muffin top. We don't need to be skinny, tanned and young to look and feel fabulous in our own skin.
It's time we starting hearing about this side of zero waste living, instead of pretending it's a new fad diet. I still hear people say they're going vegan for weight loss. Well, it's the same principle, and a complete load of rubbish and Oreos are totally vegan right? (not exactly)
I can eat a shit load of Oreos in one sitting, (I'm talking multiple packets here), but I don't because I'm avoiding the packaging AND a company that is creating a monopoly on snack foods. It's all fine though, don't feel sorry for me and my Oreo free lifestyle, because I'm not missing out, I have found plenty of yummier options without plastic.
Which brings me to my next point. I keep reading articles saying that plastic makes us fat. This could be true. Plastic contains lots of chemicals and can impact our health in ways scientists still don't fully understand yet.
BUT, look around and you'll see the world has skinny people, fat people and plenty inbetween AND most of them are over using plastic. I'm no scientist, but I can't really see much real evidence of those claims being true, and I'd love to see actual data that made sense.
So, why doesn't zero waste living make you skinny or at least drop a few kilos? It can, but here are just some of the reasons a zero waste lifestyle is actually making me fatter, and how it could easily happen to you too!
> Bakeries are Zero Waste
Visiting bakeries is far more interesting than grabbing a mass produced, plastic wrapped loaf of bread at the supermarket.
It is so easy to get bread and yummy baked goods completely zero waste and plastic-free, pretty much anywhere in the world. It's carb heaven and all you need to do is bring your own reusable bag(s) and containers.
Artisan bread, sour dough loaves, doughnuts, meat pies, pecan slices, baked cheesecakes, cookies, baguettes, cheesey pull-aparts, hot cross buns....
There is so much temptation and really very easy to overdo your recommended intake of carbohydrates (whatever that is, and NO, please don't enlighten me).
You might even go as far as baking your own bread. Fill the house with the delicious aroma of home baked bread, you'll remember how great it tastes while it's still warm, with loads of butter and that gorgeous local honey jar you just refilled.
> Zero Waste Chocolate
You would think getting chocolate is harder when skipping packaging, but noooo. I've recently been confronted with giant bulk bins of Fruchocs, and any wholefoods store is going to have multiple choices to choose from.
Rocky road, vegan chocolate, chocolate coated macadamias, choc-chips, chocolate strawberries, chocolate bark, bullets, hazelnut chocolate, chocolate covered apricots, dark chocolate dipped dried oranges - CHOCOLATE IS EVERYWHERE!
In fact, chocolate can be found in bulk bins at many supermarkets too.
> Easy Ice-Cream
Ok, you may have stopped buying ice-cream in tubs, but you won't actually need to stop eating it.
Ice-cream in cones are very zero waste, and the typical serving sizes from ice-cream parlours are enormous. Unless you were eating a tub a night, you should still easily be able to get your regular ice-cream fix without much drama.
If you can't locate a good source of package free junk food, then perhaps you just aren't a very clever or resourceful person.
> Snacks & Lollies Galore
So many zero waste bulk bin snacks, and so little time.
If you're a smart, forward thinking type of person you will want to get a selection of as many as possible, so you can try them out and prepare better for your next visit.
It's a big fat myth that going package free means you can't get a junk food fix.
Lots of little jars of yummy things is actually really tempting when you open the pantry door. Especially when it starts to resemble a magical portal to a free tasting session of every snack available at your bulk store.
If you're really lucky in the bulk shopping department you might even have a mini lolly shop going on in your kitchen, and have to move the healthy brown rice and quinoa to the bottom or top shelves to make space for it.
> Plastic Produce Is Everywhere
As you browse the healthy fruit and vegetable area of your local supermarket, there will be a day when you notice plastic is literally everywhere.
Celery, spinach and lettuce all in unnecessary cling wrap. Half cauliflowers, pumpkins and watermelon all encased in single-use trash. Apples, grapes, potatoes, herbs, cherry tomatoes, blueberries..... all pre-packaged for convenience.
Start avoiding that plastic and you'll notice your choices of fresh food can start to become quite limited and boring when you do Plastic-Free July.
> Take Away Food Is Still Possible
DO you give up takeaway when going zero waste?
No, because you can bring your own containers or just eat in and skip most of the trash. As people are becoming more vocal about disposables, there are now more compostable packaging options, so it's not just the pizza we can get delivered without landfill suffering. (Check out Trashless Takeaway to find plenty of choices zero waste near you)
You can even make your McDonald's visit zero waste friendly and get your weekly energy intake in one sitting.
>Social Media and Surfing The Internet
There is so much to learn when navigating zero waste and so many Facebook groups to join, Instagrammers to follow, topics to google and pins to pin.
It's brilliant to chat with other zero wasters and see what they're up to, but be warned, you could spend way too much time sitting on your bum reading. Head down the zero waste rabbit hole and you could waste half a day or entire evenings each week. Facebook can make you fat.
You may even involve yourself, or be the centre of, a heated debate. Just post a seemingly innocent topic and roll the dice.
Want to know how to throw a zero waste kids party? Ask your Facebook group and you will have plenty of fun while people question why you even decided to have children when they are so BAD for climate change and are choking our planet, it's so selfish! And by the way, don't have a party or ever give your children presents because that is even worse. Head to the minimalist groups and you will find that the fact your children even sleep in a bed is total excess, when they could just have a sleeping bag on the floor. If it's a zero waste minimalist group, then you will be quickly informed that if party guests DARE to give a gift to your children, the best thing to do is instruct them to put it straight in the boot of your car (so you can drop it off at the opshop immediately).
You could be tempted to stay up for hours defending yourself, hurling insults, reporting members to the 'Admins' and having a good old laugh at how ridiculous the conversations have become.
> Preventing Food Waste
Zero wasters Do NOT throw out food, there are starving people in the world, and we live in a land of plenty, with an obligation to do better and stop the ridiculous waste. Yes, save it all, stop the landfill and only compost as a last resort. Accept all the food from family and friends that would otherwise be wasted, because you are saving the planet.
You find yourself saying :
"Oh sure, I'd love to take home the 50 extra cream cakes you plan on throwing out because you over catered, along with the other leftovers, and yes, I'll compost the half eaten sandwiches too, clean all your disposable party ware and take them to home for recycling/reusing/repurposing."
In the moment you think - Yeah, I'd love to, because I am totally winning this war on waste and leading by example, showing everyone just how easy it is.
A week later you still are unable to use your freezer (because it's full of rescued food) and will be physically sick if you ever see a cream cake again. You start fantasising how you can begin a hermit lifestyle, live off the grid and keep away from parties all together.
> Writing Letters For Change
Did you let the supermarket know that you're unhappy about the celery wrapped in plastic? complain about the organic produce on foam trays? query if they will finally allow you to BYO containers? How about that hipster coffee shop that has disposable cups, or the café that gives single serve sauce sachets, or McDonald's for all their trash at the beach.
Did you let them all know and spend hours writing letters to companies, brands, your local MP? Well, firstly, you ARE freaking awesome and a zero waste hero....but secondly, you have now spent quite a lot of time sitting on your arse, only moving your fingers and doing an occasional fist pump if someone happens to reply, which does not contribute to your fitness. And that fancy stand up desk only helps you burn 54 calories a day.
> Dangers of Market Shopping
Oh, the markets are amazing places for getting plastic free produce, and a great reason to make the trek every weekend. Big tick, because you are going to eat so much fruit and veg now!
Unfortunately, they often have amazingly delicious treats, whole wheels of cheese, raw desserts, gigantic fresh smoothies, and the best tasting brownies in the entire world.
After getting up early, doing the hunting and gathering you are famished. Yes, you could eat a banana, OR you could go grab a full English breakfast made from local ingredients and a soy latte in your keep cup (even if you already ate a bowl of organic steel cut oats with a peach from your own tree just 2 hours ago).
Because you're not buying new clothing, and making your existing clothing last longer by wearing it out, your true size can become something of a mystery. These actions are great for the planet, but it also reduces the warning signs that you might be stacking on the kilos.
As clothes become worn, they stretch. You won't actually notice anything has changed until the next visit at the opshop and you can't squeeze into your size. As you no longer use scales, because they're a complete waste of time and space, you don't have to concern yourself with actual numbers, but you may start mentally recalling all the chocolate, donuts and ice-cream you have been eating the past few months.
You'll turn over a new leaf and head straight to the farmer's markets for REAL fresh food (and of course get yourself a few treats while you're there). Plogging is always an option I guess, not very appealing if you hate to run like me.
>Green Screen Time
Did you see the latest documentary on what's happening to the planet? It was riveting, and then Netflix kept suggesting so many more amazing things you just have to watch. Yep, couch potato life ahead. Turns out binge watching can make us eat more too!
I feel very connected to nature watching David Attenborough, despite only having a thirsty house plant and a sleepy dog to keep me company. You may have given up TV but chances are you're still watching it on your laptop, tablet, phone.
> Reading for The Planet
Time for a break from the screens? Switch off and bury your nose in a good book. There are plenty of books to check out regarding zero waste and going plastic-free, as well as permaculture, sustainable living and so much more.
You can access plenty of books at the library without having to worry about purchasing new ones and creating waste. The reading pile next to the bed grows larger by the day and you begin to schedule regular daily reading time so you can get through them all.
> Cooking from Scratch
Cooking rather than purchasing pre-made foods is so much healthier, but it doesn't mean it's lower in calories or that you eat less of it. In fact you may eat more because it tastes so good!
Most zero wasters still use butter, sugar, oil and plenty of calorie dense ingredients readily available at bulk stores. You might be skipping the transfats, sodium, additives and preservatives, but what you're cooking is not necessarily great for the waist line.
Here are 15 ways home cooking can make you fatter!
>Being an Eco-worrier
Ever lie awake wondering about balloons polluting the oceans, straws getting up turtles noses, the plastic ocean, how green shopping bags aren't even eco-friendly, whether bamboo more or less sustainable than cotton.....maybe have a recurring nightmare that you used a plastic produce bag to purchase one apple?
Fuck it, just hop out of bed for a few hours, check your zero waste Facebook group, watch netflix, grab a zero waste snack (you have plenty by the way), write a letter to your MP and read a few chapters of that book.
Just relax, tomorrow will be a new day where you can attempt to avoid plastic and make serious planet saving decisions with almost no sleep at all. Oh, did i mention stress raises cortisol and leads to sugar cravings, as does lack of sleep, and THOSE will make you fatter than storing food in plastic ever can. Here are some of the reasons stress can make us fat.
Hmm...should you book a restorative holiday, or avoid the carbon footprint of flying because buying offsets is cheating?
There ARE many ways going zero waste will make you healthier, fitter, happier and even put you at your ideal weight.
But this depends on lots of factors, not just your efforts in reducing plastic.
Now you know how to easily gain a few kilos AND exactly where to start looking for the calorie dense foods (you're welcome!)
Let's stop pretending zero waste makes us lose weight!
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them, let me know in the comments below.