Back in November, I blogged about my plans to share product reviews and ideas for cutting waste at work. Here it is January 10, and I am (belatedly) coming to you with a product recommendation. My apologies. It’s been some crazy weeks.
Before I dive in, I want to talk about how non-consumerism intersects with low-waste living. Because one thing that often happens when people get interested in lowering their environmental impact is that they will run into a lot of bloggers, Instagrammers, and ads telling them about products they have to have for their low-waste efforts. But buying a lot of new things is actually the complete opposite of where a low-waste life should be leading you. I read this best summation of this idea early in my development as a low-waste life-er (or is that liv-er?): “The greenest product in the one you already own.” Put simply, don’t throw out functional items and replace them with new eco-friendly options. Instead, use what you already have, and only purchase when you don’t have something on hand to do the job you need done.
About a year ago, I found myself in the situation of not having the tool I needed when I was trying to make sure I was using every single bit of what was in a container. The solution was a set of tiny silicone spatulas. I keep a few in the kitchen and a few in the bathroom. How effective are they? Well, in the last month my foundation, which comes in a bottle with a pump top, was “empty.” After unscrewing the cap, I used one of my spatulas to scoop out the foundation I needed each day. Ten days later, I emptied the bottle. And making sure a container is empty means it’s also much more likely to be recycled than a container with contents that could contaminate other recyclables. I also took two “empty” bottles of lotion (nothing came out when I pushed down on the pump mechanism), cut them open, and scraped them out. I wound up with a full baby-food jar full of lotion!
Most recently, I used one of these little scrapers to get all the honey out of a container and into the challah dough I was making for Shabbat. It got me thinking about a shiur I heard at the beginning of COVID, given by Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld about the importance of being b’simcha b’chelko, rejoicing in one’s own portion, when saying brachos. I stopped for a moment to really appreciate the miracle of bees making honey, the miracle of bread, the miracle of having enough food to eat and living in a place and time where it is relatively easy to celebrate Shabbat in its fullness. It became a moment of true connection with HaShem.
While the savings of getting an extra week and a half of foundation doesn’t necessarily seem like a big deal, it’s an opportunity for gratitude. How can I be truly grateful for the portion HaShem has given me if I treat it as something to be wasted? Ruchi Koval, who I have been blessed to learn mussar from for many years, once stressed to me the importance of being a good steward of the things HaShem has given us. Making the most of what we have encourages Him to give us more, knowing that we will treat those gifts with the respect and reverence they deserve. There are a lot of brands of these mini scrapers out. I bought this set of six. I like it because it included enough scrapers for both meat and dairy and also for personal care products.