Zero waste is a great end goal, however in a society that produces so much waste it’s pretty much impossible to go completely zero waste to the point that you’re putting nothing in dustbins that isn’t compostable/biodegradable. It can sometimes be difficult to accept that sometimes the best option is not a zero waste option, but unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to never produce any waste. These are a few things that I often see people in zero waste forums asking about, especially people who are fairly new to zero waste, and the usual conclusion is that they’re isn’t always a perfect zero waste alternative.
Wether this be medicine tablets, vitamin supplements, bandages, creams/ointments or any other type of medical supplies, often these come in packaging that isn’t zero waste. If these are things you/your family need then it’s best to accept that you need them even if it means producing waste. You can look to see if there are alternatives, such as some tablets can come in glass jars, and possibly ask your doctor/pharmacist as they would probably be willing to help. However often there is no completely zero waste alternative. It’s much better to be healthy/treating your illness properly and producing a small amount of waste than to be suffering and having a detrimental effect on your health for the sake of not producing waste.
2. Pet food
Unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s best to stick to buying pet food in packaging. These foods include everything your pet needs, and unless you have a lot of knowledge on what animals need to eat then preparing your own zero waste meals for your pets will probably result in them not getting the balanced diet that they need which could cause them to get ill. Pet food is definitely something that you should keep buying in normal packaging. There are sometimes options that don’t include plastic packaging such as cans, jars or cardboard boxes so you could aim to mostly get these for your pet. Just make sure your pet is getting the right foods to keep them healthy.
3. Sun Protection
There are some DIY recipes out there, but there’s not too much evidence to prove their effectiveness. If you choose to try a DIY method then make sure you take sensible precautions. I don’t know of anywhere that you can get refillable sun protection, however if this is available/becomes available near where you live then that may be a good option. But for the majority of people, using normal sun protection that has been proved to work well is the best option. When you’re choosing which one to buy, you can take into consideration which bottles are recyclable, and which could be repurposed into a refillable container when they’re empty. It’s also worth considering what chemicals are in them and the damage these can do for the environment, so look around for some brands that have less chemicals.
So far I’ve only found one sun protection lotion that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle, which is by the brand Shade. It’s made completely from natural ingredients and comes in a metal tin. You can buy it here Shade Plastic Free Sun Lotion
Overall, my advice is to not be too hard on yourself. You’re trying your best to help the environment, and that’s a really great thing to do! Every small thing you do to produce less waste is helping. If there are a couple of things you have to use that you just don’t have a zero waste alternative for, then that’s ok. Doing the best you can do is enough.
If anyone knows of anywhere to get these difficult to find items without packaging, feel free to say so in the comments so other people can find them too.