Thinking about the after-life (of what you buy)

For me, it all started with a bottle of shampoo.

Before this point, I was your average eco-friendly type of person, doing a little bit here and there to reduce waste – using my own bags, using bar soap (but this I’ve been doing since I was born), mostly because I was raised to be resourceful and not wasteful, and my culture is not as consumer-driven as the American culture.

I am from Colombia, NOT Columbia if you were wondering.

Don’t get me wrong, I was also an avid consumer, as a young adult woman, driven by fashion and overall marketing.


Where I currently live outside of Boston, MA, there’s no recycling. You read that right, NO RECYCLING.

I live in a complex with 1000+ condos, townhouses, and there is only trash pick up, so this massive complex filled with humans, literally throw tons of garbage every week, I mean, all of it, plastic, furniture, bags after bags after bags, and it hurts me.

In my country recycling is not a luxury, it is mandatory, by law.

So not being able to recycle anything, I started to get angry and frustrated, especially when I looked at my trash bag and I could see everything that is wrong with all this packaging and plastic.

So, when I ran out of shampoo, and I was looking at the endless bottles of plastic in the grocery store, I got mad. I turned to my husband and said:

“Why can’t I just refill the plastic bottle I already have? Why can't these big companies pack things differently? What is the need for all this inception of packaging? Why is the 100% recycled toilet paper wrapped in plastic?”

And then it hit me like a wall of rocks. I was reborn as a plastic hater, right there, in that specific moment. I did not buy another plastic bottle that day, I just ran out of the store, determined to find alternatives.

So my vision changed, and in this new awareness state I found myself in this path of living plastic-free, and reducing my waste.

Sabrina of @unpackedliving and Sarah of Zerology chatting about shopping zero-waste at Cambridge Naturals.

Sabrina of @unpackedliving and Sarah of Zerology chatting about shopping zero-waste at Cambridge Naturals.

WHAT IS THE AFTER-LIFE OF THE THINGS I BUY?

“Where does this go?”"

“If I buy this… is it going to contaminate x?”

“Is it “recyclable”? Do I know 100% that it is going to be recycled?”

“Is it biodegradable/compostable?”

“Or is it just trash?”

These are the questions I ask myself before I purchase anything.

So I encourage you today, to ask yourself every time you feel like having an impulse purchase: “what is the afterlife of it? Are you investing in garbage? What are you using your money for?” 

It’s not easy! I know! But is not impossible, and it’s never too late to start investing your time and your money in the right things, and in the way, helping to stop plastic, and helping to modify the way companies produce things.

Let’s be the change, together!


Sabrina Auclair is a badass plastic-free and low-waste living local guru. Upon moving to Massachusetts from Colombia, she was shocked by the amount of waste we produce in the U.S. and the inefficiencies of our consumer-driven system. So, she decided to make a change. She now shares her low-waste-living tips on her instagram @unpackedliving. Thanks, Sabrina, for sharing your story!