Throwing away less, Caring More

By Julie Householder |

While aimlessly scrolling through Facebook earlier this summer, I came upon a video about a woman who can fit her trash from the past four years into a mason jar. Lauren Singer, an environmental studies graduate from New York University, lives a zero waste lifestyle. She defines zero waste on her blog, Trash is for Tossers, as not producing any garbage. “No sending anything to the landfill, no throwing anything in a trash can, nothing. However, I do recycle and I do compost.”

I was astonished. As someone who constantly discusses my passion for the environment, I sure did produce a lot of trash. In fact, I had learned both in high school and college about the average amount of trash produced per person every day. A recent study conducted by Duke University shows the average person generates 4.3 pounds of trash per day. Because all we have to do is take our trash out for it to be taken away, we often don’t see the impact of our waste.

Coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and fruit waste go into my compost bins.

I decided then and there I was going to start making the transition into a zero waste lifestyle. I began by evaluating what I was throwing away to determine what I needed to change. I began composting in my apartment.  I continued to encourage my roommates to recycle. I also began to make easy product switches, like using reusable bags when I go grocery shopping and making my own bathroom products in jars I saved from food items.

As of now, I am a month in, and it hasn’t been easy. While some aspects of a waste-free lifestyle were simple, there are still some practices I cannot avoid. I’m still working on breaking my habits of throwing things away in the trash can when they can be composted or recycled. Because my neighborhood doesn’t have recycling, I drive all of my recyclables to another drop off location. It can be a hassle at times.

Taking a few reusable bags to the store when you shop is one of the simplest ways to cut down waste.

Taking a few reusable bags to the store when you shop is one of the simplest ways to cut down waste.

Despite any difficulties the transition into a zero waste lifestyle may bring, the feeling I get from truly living my values is priceless.

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