Let’s Talk Trash

By Brooke Horn

Brooke Horn

Lauren Singer’s green philosophy is pretty simple: produce as little waste as possible by making smart, sustainable lifestyle choices. As a whole, our society subscribes to the disposable model. We have disposable plastic ware, drink cups, water bottles, napkins, food wrappers, product packaging… the list is seemingly endless. Generating no trash might seem like an impossibility but, as Lauren shows us, we can get pretty darn close.

I discovered Lauren through this EcoWatch article last week and became really intrigued by the concept of zero-waste living. Amazingly, almost all of the trash she’s collected over two years fits in a single mason jar. Her blog, Trash is for Tossers, provides tons of useful information on how she pulls her zero-waste lifestyle off. After doing a lot of research and taking a good, hard look at my own habits, I’ve decided to follow Lauren’s lead and implement some changes in my own lifestyle.

While I don’t think that I’m ready to transition to zero-waste, I DO want to transition to zero-plastic (or as close as I can get). Plastics have been shown to leach toxins into food, and while they can be reused, they don’t decompose like other materials. Does this mean immediately disposing of all plastics in my household? No, and it shouldn’t. Throwing away these items would only ADD to the problem.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf... I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.
My dreaded Tupperware shelf… I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

Instead, I plan on gradually replacing my plastic items with glass, wood, or stainless steel equivalents (which you can find here, or even at your local thrift shop). The plastic items can either be donated or recycled as I exchange them. And while I’m generally pretty good about bringing a reusable water bottle and canvas shopping bags with me wherever I go, I’d like to go one step further. By using linen bags like these when I purchase produce and bulk items, I eliminate most plastics from my shopping routine. BAM. No more plastic bags, no more plastic Tupperware. One step closer to zero-plastic and zero-waste.

For tips on how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle on campus, check out PSU’s own Green Campus Living. The blogs Project Green Dorm, Zero Waste Home, and, of course, Trash is for Tossers are also really great resources. Wish me luck on my journey to zero-plastic! Feel free to share your own tips, recipes, resources, and ideas in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Trash

  1. I do use my own shopping bags and a little grocery cart so I don’t need the plastic bags they randomly give out at the store. Removing all plastics from my cupboard would be a small miracle, but it is something small that everyone can do for the environment. I like plastic containers just because they’re durable, easy to wash, and fit comfortably in my backpack (weird, I know, but I’m a grad student and I take food with me to snack on). I wonder if glass or stainless steel would work just as well, though? Great post, I’ll see what I can do, too.

    1. That’s great! Carrying your own non-plastic, reusable bags is a big step. And you CAN use glass and stainless steel containers for lunch on the go. I recently started carrying a glass mason jar with me everywhere (it’s great for taking leftovers/snacks, it’s easy to clean, and cheap). There are lots of other options too. Many places sell stainless or wood bento boxes, and there are non-plastic Tupperware equivalents that are more sustainable too. Hope this helps!

  2. I started to make small steps to the zero waste life too. I do not use plastic bags any more. I use glass bottles to drink water or juice. I also take my favorite travel mug with me and when I want a nice cup of coffee in the nearby coffee shop I just give my mug to the coffee maker. These are just small steps but I know that I am walking into the right direction.

  3. Since the annual Zero Waste Week, I’m really motivated to reduce my waste to the minimum. I try to reuse all the stuff that I don’t use anymore and also to switch to reusable diapers for my baby – you know, the earlier we teach them to live a zero waste life, the faster they will implement it in their life later. As Theresa said small steps do matter!

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