I started my Instagram profile after I started my blog, and I started my blog because I felt that there was a huge gap in the zero waste movement. I'm from Arkansas, and I know what it's like to live without access to eco-friendly products and services even simple things like recycling. At the time, the zero waste movement felt very all or nothing. There was a lot of dialogue missing around doing the best you can with what you have, where you are. I really sought to fill that void. I want everyone to know that no matter what type of change you make whether it's big or small, that you can make a difference! You don't have to be perfect, you just have to try.
What was the first item or lifestyle change you used to avoid creating trash?
I started avoiding plastic for health reasons. Plastic isn't just bad for our health, it's also bad for the health of the planet. The first swap I made was plastic water bottles.
Tell us about “the big four”.
I tell everyone to start with the big four! It's four simple swaps that add up to a huge impact.
- Say no to single-use plastic straws
- Bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. Don't forget the produce bags too! (Most produce doesn't even need a bag. Leave it naked.)
- Bring a full water bottle with you before you leave your house. Phone, wallet, WATER, keys - good to go.
- Say no to take away coffee cups by bringing your own, or asking for the coffee to stay in a real mug.
In the June issue of National Geographic, you mentioned that you go to a Mexican restaurant to get fresh tortillas and avoid the plastic bag they come in at the grocery store. What are some other not-so-obvious ways you avoid creating waste?
Very rarely do we have waste problems; we have creative thinking problems. Zero waste living is thinking outside of the box and being brave enough to try something different. The tortillas have definitely been my most creative zero waste solution, but I've applied the same principle to pizza dough too! I just head to the pizza parlor to get dough to-go in my own container.
What are your favorite things to stash in your stasher bags? Or what do you stash most often?
When bananas start getting brown and spotted, I'll peel them and put them in my Stasher bag in the freezer! They're perfect for smoothies.
What are some surprising ways you've found stasher helps with waste-free living?
I cook a lot because it is so much cheaper and allows me to reduce a lot of waste! Cooking can be time consuming, and I work 10+ hours a day so I have to find ways to cut corners. I do that by prepping and utilizing my freezer.
Whenever I make beans, I cook 1-2lbs at a time and freeze all of the leftovers so I always have cooked protein on hand. It takes about 20 minutes to defrost the beans in water allowing me to get a healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes. I love using the stasher bags because I can fit a whole bunch in the freezer allowing me to be prepared!
Which stasher color is your favorite?
I'm pretty classic; I like the clear ones.
What are your recommendations for someone who wants to reduce waste in their community, not just their home?
There are so many things! Host a free talk at the local library, call the local newspaper and ask about a column or an article on zero waste living, show a documentary at a community space, grab a table at the local farmers market to educate others, host a clean-up, get involved with your local government, go to city hall meetings, talk to local businesses about implementing a straw on request only policy, get local coffee shops to incentivize bringing your own cup, etc.
Where do you see the plastic-free/zero-waste movement 5 years from now?
I honestly see it being very mainstream. I think we're going to really start seeing businesses stepping up to the plate and finding solutions to a lot of these problems plaguing the planet. I think we're going to see policy addressing a lot of these issues too, but it all starts with the individuals demanding change!
Okay... it's time for some fun!
If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My personal theme song is Non-Stop from Hamilton.Which type of animal would make the best president if the animal kingdom were ever to rise up and take over?
Penguins, clearly. They're dressed for every occasion.
I was part golden girl / part nerd. I did everything. I starred in every school play and musical, was the mascot, lettered in golf, choir, president of the national honors society, student body secretary, yearbook editor in chief... I could go on but won't for fear of sounding like a narcissist. I've always been a very involved individual. It was the same in college and now. I love being an active member in my community!What's your favorite thing to do on weekends in the Bay Area?
My favorite thing to do on the weekend is hang out with my family! On Saturday morning, you will find Justin (my husband), Nala (doggo), and me chillin' on a patio eating a delicious brunch followed by going on a long, long walk.