Zero Waste Health

Good health is paramount

I learned that good health is paramount & that it’s ok to create medical waste. I learned the power of self care & mindfulness. I discovered that napping, stretching & eating well is pretty effective. I realised that a healthy recovery sometimes doesn’t require medication.


Staying alive

Be realistic and accept that some medical conditions require waste. Your health is paramount and modern medicine saves lives. Swallow your pride and remember that there comes a time in everyone’s life when the doctor says “Can I have some of your poo?” and you’ve just gotta ignore all the standards you’ve set for yourself and drop the kids off at the plastic pool.

Medical waste | Ain't no Planet B
Medical waste is a fact of life

A topic I’d love to hear more about is zero waste sickness. I’ve had great health since starting zero waste because I’m eating well, am looking after myself and am more mindful. But I don’t have a medical condition. So, what about the serious illnesses? What about the times when natural medicine can’t cure you? Sometimes medical plastics are unavoidable.

When my husband, James was 14 years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For 16 years, he has manually injected himself with insulin and tested his blood. Every syringe and single-use blood test strip has been a saving grace that keeps him alive.

Today, he is relieved to have upgraded to a wearable insulin pump that automatically injects insulin and monitors his blood. James reckons he has become part robot and he loves the freedom that this tech has given him.

Insulin pump | Ain't no Planet B
Pump & applicator for insulin-dependent diabetes

He has two wearables: His insulin pump and a continual glucose meter. He needs to change the cannula and reservoir in his pump every 3 days. The glucose meter is changed every 6 days. The tech comes with a single purpose applicator to ensure a sterilised and safe application. Unfortunately, this system creates a lot more waste than the manual one. Down the track, there may be opportunities to find a system that produces less landfill. But sadly for now, some waste is essential. I’m just so grateful for modern medicine and to have the best treatment available for my best friend.

Standard amount of waste for insulin pump | Ain't no Planet B
Standard amount of waste for insulin pump

Favour recyclable packaging

Ask questions. Explore options. If given a choice by your doctor, take small steps to reduce the amount of single-use plastic required. Avoid blister packs. Favour bulk. Vitamins are often available in glass jars. Headache tablets can be sold in bulk plastic tubs.

Favour glass for medical waste | Ain't no Planet B
Favour recyclable packaging for medical waste

My husband was shocked by the amount of single-use plastic required for his insulin pump. He asked his doctor loads of questions and found that this pump can be topped up using the same syringe he’s familiar with (100% plastic) or a vial (glass / metal / rubber). Being inspired by zero waste, he’s opted for glass vials that have a metal and rubber lid and are packaged in paper. Using recyclable packaging makes no difference to his wellbeing, but it results in significantly less plastic coming into our home.

Refilling the old way | Ain't no Planet B
Refilling the old way

On a slightly less life-threatening note, I have had bouts of mild insomnia at various times in my life. It occasionally gets to the point where a pill is necessary. Rather than purchasing blister packs and plastic containers, I now favour a glass container with loose pills inside. It cures me of my temporary ailment and I now have a jar that I can reuse for toiletries.

If a fork in the road presents itself, and it has no impact on my wellbeing, I try to favour recyclable packaging.


Consider a drug-free remedy

If your doctor says it’s ok, consider not buying a product at all and opt for natural remedies, manual therapy or recovering at a steady pace.

Tension headaches | Ain't no Planet B
Ain’t no painkillers for my tension headaches

I can get tension headaches from sitting at a desk all day. Rather than taking a painkiller, I go to a manual therapist to solve the problem at its core: knotted shoulders and neck. It works a treat!

I have a special talent at getting food poisoning. It’s really quite remarkable just how many types of food I’ve been poisoned by: milk, bread, beans and prawns. Seafood poisoning was the worst. I thought I’d never recover. When I’ve tried to take a pill for my belly, it’s resulted in further discomfort. Despite my best efforts to speed up recovery, the best remedy for food poisoning has always been hydration, time and a delicate diet of rice, broth, bananas, salted bread and whatever vegetables my body is craving. This is a sickness that takes a great deal of patience and self-awareness.

Sickness varies from person to person, and I trust that the doctor knows what’s best for me. If I’m lucky enough to have the option, I’ll heal without medication.


Look after yourself

Get regular check ups from your doctor, dentist and therapist. Eat well, exercise, take a nap, do some stretches and listen to your mother.

Eat fresh foods | Ain't no Planet B
Understand how food can affect your health

I’ve had this book, “Foods that Harm. Foods that Heal.” all my life. I think it’s shaped me. It offers a reference for what to eat/avoid in certain health situations. My mum would refer to it when I had a sore tummy or a cold. I began to flick through the pages when I experienced the joys of puberty. Today, it’s a reference for a quicker recovery or supporting a change in lifestyle like reducing meat in my diet or increasing exercise. Even though some parts are a little outdated, I’m always learning something new.

I’ve also noticed that I’m stretching more and am mindful and realistic about when I’m run down, so I rest (I vaguely remember my mum telling me about this far out thing called “resting”). I don’t quite know how to explain it but I can see how zero waste is an enabler for good health.


How to be fully sick without feeling bad

Good health is paramount & it’s ok to create medical waste. Look after yourself. Ask questions, explore options, listen to your doctor and do whatever you need to be as healthy as can be.

Next: Let’s talk about sex, baby!