How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days of Zero Waste


When somebody ghosts you, it's normally because you use the word "gentrification" too much or lie about how much you play Pokemon Go. But what if you nix the Chinese takeout that naturally accompanies Netflix? And get fair trade coffee to go in a mason jar? Or have a giant bowl of compost just chilling in the fridge?

Let me preface this by saying that the last time I went on a date, Cara Delevingne and Harry Styles were an item, Taylor Swift didn't have a squad, and most famous girls seemed to hate her, so you shouldn't take advice from me. Also, it sounds like existentialist Simone de Beauvoir mumbo-jumbo, but if you're happy with yourself, it won't matter if he / she thinks a carbon sink is a bathroom fixture. When you contemplate sharing your life with another person, though, you need to share values. Zero waste is a huge one. As with eating gluten free, it's a lifestyle, so whether you're dating your spouse or a completely new person, everyone needs to be onboard.

Anyway, in a world where apps make it possible to both order food to and stalk prey directly from bed, the one question on everyone single twenty-to-thirtysomething's mind must surely be: What's the carbon footprint of Tinder? Internet and app-based dating reduces consumption of physical resources like paper, but manufacturing, powering, and cooling devices, servers, and data centers all emit GHGs.  IT related services now account for 2% of all global carbon emissions- about the same as the aviation sector. Tinder, which processed over one billion swipes per day in October 2014, makes over 26 million matches each day globally. It's an AWS customer, meaning they use less servers, less power, and a cleaner power mix than competitors. Still, considering the fact that the average user spends about an hour and a half on the app each day, and the industry standard PUE is 1.50 (compared to Facebook's 1.09), swiping is somewhat resource intensive.

Le Comptoir General
Nevertheless, the average person's Facebook use for an entire year has the same carbon impact as a medium latte, so you may be better off using Messenger to chat with that cutie from linear algebra class than driving to Starbucks for coffee (if you must, have a tea- lower carbon footprint). Alternately, an email emits about 4g CO2, and a text takes 0.014 grams per message, so it's greener to walk up to someone and talk to them, especially if the coasters, straws, cups, and stirring sticks where you're at are reusable, or you brought your mason jar for drinks. The most energy intensive of them all? Snapchat and streaming video. Call friends on the phone instead.

In fact, using a tablet or smartphone is best for quick perusal of potential fresh meat, since they consume less energy than larger devices- just don't replace them every year. The total life emissions of an iPhone6 amount to 95kg, which means that while a shift to cloud based operations could result in a 38% reduction of energy usage, embodied energy from tablet and smartphone upgrades may negate any decrease. Fairphone and Phonebloks offer conflict free or modular, repairable smartphones, which could offset the manufacture footprint of devices. Another variable is energy needed to charge and operate devices used for dating apps. These account for only 11% of total life emissions, but you should at least power down your computer if you'll be away from OkCupid (is that a website or an app? I don't actually know) for two hours. Even in sleep mode, computers burn energy- about 15-60 watts in use vs. 2-5 watts sleep mode. Switched off devices and chargers can draw up to 2 watts of energy plugged in, so always use a power strip or unplug.

Brasserie 2éme Art
When you meet someone, regardless of how, the opportunities for waste reduction are infinite. Maybe you'll be stuck with a plastic wristband at the concert, but hopefully you downloaded tickets to your phone (same for movies), refused plastic straws and paper napkins, or brought a reusable cup where permitted. Did you take a stainless steel EcoLunchbox for leftovers, and your own napkin for dinner? Are they willing to meet at vegan or plastic free restaurants (like Le Tricycle, Hank Pizza, and Brasserie 2eme Art), venues that recup food waste (such as NomosSimone Lemon, or Freegan Pony), or places that compost / upcycle / reclaim abandoned spaces (Mûre, Le Comptoir General, La Recyclerie, Le Pavillon de Canaux, Madame Lupin vernissages)? If you ask for ice cream in your own jar, will they freak out? Are you wearing a secondhand outfit, or something from Reformation? I recently sat next to a couple on their first Tinder date at Deux Fois Plus de Piment and interrupted to praise the Szechuan hotspot's reusable chopsticks (vegan Tien Hiang uses only reusables also). They were nice about it (one of my first nights in Paris I sat next to a guy dumping his girlfriend at Mama Shelter and she cried all over my roasted pineapple. That wasn't so nice. Also, last time I went to Candelaria I sat next to a Tinder matched couple and the girl ended up hitting on my friend and the guy just talked to my husband the whole night). Picnics or trips to the farmer's market are, of course, classic zero waste dates, but you should at least achieve the closeness of Lily and Marshall, if not Marshall and Brad, before attempting.

When I asked my zero waste friends, they recommended ordering something that doesn't come with a straw- such as a pint of beer or glass of wine- or bringing only a mason jar, handkerchief, and napkin on a first date. Honestly, if you're not ordering something that comes in a highball glass anyway, I probably don't want you reading this blog. One friend said a guy found her "too sustainable" because she used cloth bags, bar soap, reusable cotton pads, and a Thermos. I hate him! The story has a happy ending, though, because she later met a PhD studying recycling and their first conversation was about compost :) For the most part, though, it seems zero wasters find compatible, open-minded, wonderful partners... after putting up with a few jerks first. People who can't understand why we refuse straws or don't have trash cans make way for ecologically conscious, curious, and inspired people. Be up front, but be reasonable about it- don't freak out if you get a paper napkin or a straw. These come with the territory of having a social life. If you're out of the zero waste dating game and already married or involved with someone who isn't zero waste, click here.

Friend date at La Mano: On me, Reformation Edison dress and Levi's shorts. On her, Louis Vuitton coat

Oh, and if you want a list of zero waste essentials for sleepovers, here's what I tucked into my purse to go the Chedi with my husband: coconut oil (to remove makeup and freshen breath) and baking soda (deodorant and toothpaste) in Weck 080 mini mold jars, a tiny refillable vial of perfume (Le Labo is cruelty free and zero waste), a bamboo toothbrush, clean handkerchief, and Burt's Bees lip balm my friend gave me because she bought the wrong color and couldn't return it and I'm just the right shade of orange for it. In the days before water only, I'd have brought a wooden hairbrush or homemade hair tie. Everything fits compactly in a purse, and you can reuse old metal lip balm containers for coconut oil and baking soda, if carrying a clutch.

As for birth control, some use a fertility monitor as a non-hormonal option or an IUD to reduce packaging, and Sustain is the most zero waste condom. But birth control is really personal and I'm not a doctor. As I said, I haven't even dated really. I'm against it. Whenever I see people update their relationship status on Facebook I'm like, "He / she is making a huge mistake." I always tell friends contemplating new love to get eyelash extensions first instead. That way they get a one year irritating commitment without the baggage of a relationship. In fact I can personally relate to the feelings expressed in Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and full-on Calvin Harris every guy from my past so I can neither advocate nor criticize any of the options herein. Whatever you decide, zero waste needs to take a backseat whenever health is concerned.

Paris to Go

16 comments:

  1. My honey and I were great friends before we became partners, so she knew what she was in for - knitted dish cloths, organic plant-based diet, completely natural home, hauling firewood, hanging washing etc....My best advice to zero wasters is to just be yourself. Better to know sooner rather than later if you're not on the same page. I've learned from hard experience that it if someone else views your values and lifestyle as extreme it's not going to be a healthy relationship for you.



    Madeleine.x

    And PS some of our best dates have been at the farmer's market - I bought her a keep cup so she could have a coffee when we were out and she loved it :-)

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    1. That's such a nice gift! Maybe this is too personal but are your teenagers dating yet? Do you think they will date someone with the same values? I agree that there's no sense in hiding anything, zero waste is nothing to be ashamed of :) And another person I asked said the same thing that it was easier to be friends first so they get a sense of what sharing a life together will be like.

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    2. Hi Ariana,

      the kids are both teenagers but only one has been dating. I think they are only just realising that sharing values is important. My son has had some of the nice looking girls interested in him, and when I asked if he wanted to go out with them his response was 'they're just not nice people mum'. So he's clearly thinking about content more than packaging! That made me proud :-)

      I think the kids have seen my way of life as pretty inconvenient at times and against the mainstream, and I try to be flexible and let them try things out for themselves even when it pains me sometimes.

      I think they will come back to my values in the end, though. If either one is coming down with a cold they will want my special vegetable soup and herb teas even though they have been exploring Mac Donalds etc.... lately.

      I have had to learn not to lecture them any more (in my mind it was just passionate teaching!) and am finding they come to some pretty intelligent conclusions on the own. And for girls veganism/organics/environment are all being presented in a pretty package on social media and this does help too.

      Madeleine.x

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  2. Phonebloks is a modular concept by Dave Hakkens and isn't actually in production . Fairphone is an ethical alternative but their modular pieces are essentially upgrades to the base model. BUT I'm happy to see them referenced here! Great blog, would love to learn more about how you tackle urban life waste-free.

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    1. Thank you! I love the concept of Fairphone but a few of my friends have issues with repairing parts :( For some reason I thought phonebloks was getting closer to production, that's too bad because I love the idea

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  3. A simple walk in the park or bike ride can be a great zero waste date too �� Xx M.

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    1. yea! Or a nice hike. My husband and I once walked through a cemetery in the middle of the night in Norway while it was covered in snow and the northern lights shone up above. That was cool too

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  4. I GOT THE HIMYM REFERENCE!!! Bro, zucchini bread is redonk, right (actually I couldn't say because I've never had it. Sad face).

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    1. Hahaha I just watched a bunch of HIMYM episodes on the plane and remembered again how much I loved that show. Robin Barney forever. I love when the jury makes a big deal about how handsome Brad is lol

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    2. Every time Brad made an episode experience, I'd yell out 'Alcide' (his character from True Blood; the husband was into that show). I like how the actor could make fun of his hunkiness :p

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    3. *Appearance, not experience!

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  5. I'm interested in seeing your take on love itself. Undoubtedly it would be a refreshing and hilarious read, hopefully a little cynical?

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    1. Here is my take: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27529751

      I think it can be controlled and regulated :)

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