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I haven't made any trash in 2 years

Lauren Singer

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By Lauren Singer – a former Sustainability Manager, NYC Environmental Studies graduate and blogger, from Trash is for Tossers.

This article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen and has been republished here with author's full permission.

My name is Lauren. I'm a 23-year-old girl living in NYC and I don't make trash. For real. No garbage bin, no landfill. Nada.

I know what you are thinking. This girl must be a total hippie. Or a liar. Or she's not real. But I assure you, I am none of those things. Well, except for real.

I didn't always live what some call a "zero waste" life.

But I started making a shift about three years ago, when I was an Environmental Studies major at NYU, protesting against big oil, and president of a club that hosted weekly talks on environmental topics. In my mind I was super environmental, or as my grandma called me, a real "treehugger." Everyone thought of me as the sustainability girl, so that meant that I was totally doing my share for the earth, right?

Wrong.

In one of my classes, there was another student who always brought a plastic bag containing a plastic clamshell full of food, a plastic water bottle, plastic cutlery, and a bag of chips. Class after class I watched her throw it all in the garbage, and I got so angry! I scoffed and sneered, but I never actually said or did anything. I just got mad.

One day I was particularly upset after class and went home to make dinner and try to forget about it, but when I opened my refrigerator I froze. I realized that every item I had in there was wrapped or packaged, one way or another, in plastic.

This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was able to look at myself and say, "YOU HYPOCRITE." I was the green girl, not the plastic girl! What had I been doing my entire life? It was in that moment I made the decision to eliminate all plastic from my life.

Quitting plastic meant learning to make all of my packaged products myself.

This included everything from toothpaste to cleaning products, all things I had no clue how to make and had to learn by doing a lot of online research. One day I stumbled across a blog called Zero Waste Home. It followed the life of Bea Johnson, wife and mother of two children who all live a zero-waste life in California.

By that point I had already eliminated almost all plastic from my life. I thought, "If a family of four can live a zero-waste lifestyle, I, as a (then) 21-year-old single girl in NYC, certainly can." So I took the leap...

To continue reading this article on MindBodyGreen, click here.

We had a quick chat to Lauren and asked her some questions in our article Trash is for Tossers – click here to read it.