Waste in the kitchen - a mindset shift

On the topic of waste in the kitchen...

Some of the ideas I presented for catering to (get it?) your executive dysfunction in the kitchen are more expensive than making from-scratch foods on a budget. If you’re already making nearly all of your food at home and on a budget with no issues then you can skip those parts, but there may still be some other helpful advice.

Wasting $ $ $

If, on the other hand, your food budget is already stretched, but you find yourself throwing away fresh produce because you either forgot it or couldn't get the motivation to prepare it, consider buying less food for the same amount of money - by buying already prepared produce (sliced onions, broccoli florets, cut up fruit, etc...) It feels at first like you're wasting money, but you were already wasting money on the food you didn't eat. And think how much less food you'll waste if it's in a form you can just eat!

Guilt and shame

Many of us are environmentalists and want to minimize waste as much as we can and that’s awesome. But requiring strict adherence to minimalist methods even when it causes harm is ableism (internalized ableism if you’re the one being harmed). Attacking yourself for not living up to an ideal does exactly nothing to help you live up to that ideal.

In fact, it makes it even harder, which means that the longer you insist you’re a bad person for being wasteful, the more wasteful you’ll be over time. Shame is not a motivator for long-term change. That doesn’t mean you have to be proud or happy about doing something that doesn’t support your values - because note that shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt is feeling badly about an action you’ve taken. Shame is feeling badly about who you are. And the two emotions can both be brought on by the same circumstances and values.

Radical acceptance

Imagine a person who cares deeply about the environment, but has started using paper plates because they are really struggling to keep up with the dishes. They could feel bad about making so much waste, and resolve to go back to reusable as soon as they are able. Alternatively, they could feel bad about being such a lazy person who is killing the world because they can’t even do basic things like washing a dish. Which person is likely to reach a point that they can give up paper plates quicker?

Would you rather hate yourself for not living up to your values in order to maintain moral purity? Or would you rather make an effort to actually live up to those values, even if it requires radical acceptance of your flaws?

Feeling guilty about using paper plates - but not ashamed - will not prevent you from moving on when you’re ready to start washing dishes. Shame will only hold you back.

Going further

But it's also fine if you don't feel guilty.

What if instead of feeling bad about using time-and-energy-saving shortcuts like paper plates and prepared vegetables, you felt proud? This means that you - and others - are still good, frugal, moral, conserving people when you take these actions to support yourself, especially if it frees up enough mental space for you to practice activism to support large-scale environmental issues. What could you do with that extra time and energy if you didn't instead take on the heavy burden of shame?

Allow yourself accommodations and if it starts to feel too easy, you can remove or replace one of your accommodations. And they’ll still be there for you the next time things get hard again.

Privacy Policy - Disclaimers