(Image courtesy of Lauren Singer, Trash is for Tossers)
I’ve got a treat to share with the citizens of Fort Negrita today! In my pursuits to become a Zero Waster, I did lots of researching in the beginning stages, including stumbling across Trash is for Tossers.
Trash is for Tossers is a blog about Lauren Singer and how she navigates a zero-waste life in NYC. I got attached to her because she was modern and tangible. Most times when I research information about zero-waste or green-living I find older women, living in remote cottages with tons of tie-die maxi skirts and cats, but Lauren is none of the above. She hangs out at Lollapalooza, protests with the 'kids' and she dates a bass player. Lauren's no wanderlost hippie, and that's what atttracted me to her blog; she's an everyday girl.
While viewing her blog, I still had questions about those more difficult times in zero-waste life. She totally understood my curiosity and was willing to answer a bunch of questions about living the no-trash life.
Visit her website to learn more about her, tell her Anamarie sent you! See her responses below.
What are the rules you set for your zero waste life? Any exceptions to the rule?
My favorite rule would be to not set rules. I just take life day by day and keep simple messages in my head: I will try to not produce any waste today, I will be prepared, I will try my hardest to purchase items without packaging. By doing this, I am not obliging myself to act in a certain way and will not feel horrible if I do produce trash. Things happen, circumstances arise, especially in the beginning while you are still transitioning, and punishing yourself for slipping when you are doing great 99% of the time is unhealthy. Instead, I say just try your best. Eventually, living Zero Waste just becomes habit and you won’t have to think about it at all.
Cosmetic upkeep like blow drying your hair, getting your nails done and getting Brazilian waxes?
I have thick hair that I used to blow dry and straighten every day in high school. My freshman year of college I studied abroad in Paris and was inspired by the ability that French women have to leave the house with undone hair, naked nails, and a simple wardrobe and still look gorgeous and put together. That year, I stopped fussing with my hair and haven’t looked back. Natural is beautiful.
That being said, I still own the same hairdryer and straightener that I had from high school and if I am in the mood for a different look, I use them.
As far as waxing goes, I don’t. I have a stainless steel reusable razor, which saves me a lot of money (and pain). However, I am trying to save up the money to do laser hair removal so I don’t have to keep buying razor blades.
I have three eco-friendly nail polishes that I purchased before starting my Zero Waste journey. Like all of my packaged beauty products that I had before I started, I am not going to throw them out. I will use them up and then find a way to upcycle or recycle the bottles.
As for the rest, I have a really simple beauty routine. I wake up, splash some water on my face, use the toothpaste and moisturizer that I make myself, put on some Organic and locally produced cream concealer and blush and leave. When I shower, I use shampoo and conditioner that I purchase in bulk, and lather up with unpackaged, organic bar soap.
Is your boyfriend a zero waster? How has he worked with your lifestyle?
My boyfriend is not a self-proclaimed Zero Waster, but he really doesn’t produce much waste anyway. We met as environmental activists and began dating before I started my Zero Waste journey. Like me he was already conscious about the environment and we have evolved and grown together.
The greatest part of our relationship is that we bring different things to the table when it comes to Zero Waste. I am really focused on seeking out Organic unpackaged food, finding alternatives to household items, and secondhand shopping as opposed to buying new clothing, whereas he really loves to look recipes for DIY cleaning and body products and always reminds me to turn off the lights and the water.
Have you ever had an emergency circumstance where you had to break the rules? If so, what was it or what would be considered an emergency circumstance?
I wouldn’t say that this is an emergency circumstance, but sometimes I produce waste without even intending to. For instance I will go to a coffee shop and specifically ask for something to stay or to be put in my reusable container and then they put it in a disposable cup or container by accident. It isn’t the end of the world, and the coffee shops that I go to use compostable containers, but I get a little frustrated that I had to produce any sort of waste at all. These situations only help me remember that the way I live is by no means the way the majority of people live. From that I have learned to be very specific and tell people why I want something to stay or my reasoning for brining in my own container. Doing so helps them to remember to do it and also gets them thinking about Zero Waste.
What do you do when you have to take medications? First Aid?
I don’t take any medications, but I do take vitamins. The containers that the vitamins come in are recyclable except for the cotton and a fresh pack, so those become part of my waste that I keep in a jar on my counter.
As for first aid, the products that I keep in my house work perfectly for first aid. For instance, I cut my thumb pretty badly last week and rinsed it off, put some of my moisturizer on it which contains vitamin E and coconut oil which keep bacteria away, wrapped it with a reusable cotton round and tied it with a piece of cheese cloth. Voila, Zero Waste first aid (and it healed SO quickly)!
Do you use toilet paper?
Yes. It is my “indulgence” so to speak. But I make sure to buy recycled, unbleached toilet paper in bulk. It comes in plastic (which I hate) but my local grocery store recycles the packaging. As of right now I am not ready to transition to a no-TP bathroom, but who knows how I will feel in the future.
Would you ever host a zero-waste party? Who would bring the drinks?
Absolutely. In fact I just did and posted pictures on my blog.
How much time do you spend a week making preparations?
I hardly spend any time at all making preparations as everything has become routine for me. Before I became Zero Waste, food packaging was my biggest form of trash. To avoid that completely I always come up with a grocery list before going to the store so I don’t have to go back a million times per week, and also so I can bring the appropriate number of jars and bags to carry what I purchase. I also save a lot of money that way.
As for everything else, my routine doesn’t create a lot of waste. I do make my bathroom products like toothpaste and moisturizer every couple of weeks, but that takes minutes so it is really no trouble at all. In fact it would take longer to walk to the store and buy them- so really I save time!