To Live a Garbage-free Life: Unique Story of a 23-Year-Old Girl from NYC

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Today, the world generates more than 2.5 trillion pounds of garbage! That is certainly a big number, which is unfortunately rising. Unsurprisingly, the global cost of dealing with all that trash is rising too: it will be $375 billion a year in 10 years from now, after it was $205 billion in 2010, with the sharpest cost increases in the less developed countries. This makes our planet easily damaged, not only by the trash we make, but also by the different practices we use to deal with it. We are using ridiculous amounts of products and packaging that could easily be cut down if we just take a moment to think about this and make some effort to make a change.

The good news is, many people are changing and the consciousness on our planet is shifting! More and more people are starting to look at things in a new light and are dropping the old destructive and harmful habits. The real passion lies in these people, and Lauren Singer is one of them. Lauren is a 23-year-old girl living in New York City, and here is what makes her story special:

Lauren has been able to live without trash for the last two years. This might sound unrealistic, but it is true. She has been able to live producing no waste and having a blast while doing it. “I didn’t always live what some call a “zero waste” life.” says Lauren confirming that she had to change in order for this shift to happen. The whole thing started when she was a student majoring in Environmental Studies at NYU, protesting against big oil, and president of a club that hosted weekly debates on environmental topics.

She says that the actual shift started when she had noticed what was in her refrigerator. “I realized that every item I had in there was wrapped or packaged, one way or another, in plastic.” That was the moment when she decided to eliminate all plastic from her life which meant learning to make all of her packaged products herself. Then she was able to go from zero plastic to zero waste.

Lauren says she stopped buying packaged goods and started bringing her own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket. She also stopped buying new clothing, and started making all of her own personal care and cleaning products by herself, using organic and homemade ingredients. She downsized significantly by selling, donating, or giving away things in her life that she found meaningless and items that had no significance to her. Not only she got rid of all the plastic in her life, but she also started planning potentially wasteful situations; she refused using straws in drinks, plastic bags in stores and even receipts. Her philosophy was to say “no” to all products that might harm the environment once they’re used and thrown as garbage.

The practices that Lauren has adopted made her life better in many ways. Living in line with her zero-waste principles made her save money. She started making grocery list before going shopping which helped her be prepared and not randomly grabbing items that might be very expensive. She also buys her food in her own jars so she doesn’t have to pay extra money for packaging. As for clothes, Lauren shops second-hand and gets all her clothes at a discounted price. 

She also says she eats a lot better after she changed her eating habits. Buying unpackaged food has limited her unhealthy choices and eating unpackaged organic local fruits and vegetables made her life much healthier. “The greatest advantage of this whole shift is being a happier person” says Lauren. She considers her life of a higher quality now thanks to her waste-free lifestyle.

“I didn’t start living this lifestyle to make a statement. I began living this way because living a zero-waste life is, to me, the absolutely best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in.”

Lauren Singer started her own zero-waste company, after she was the Sustainability Manager for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. She called her startup The Simply Co. It was successfully funded through Kickstarter, where she presented a 3-ingredient laundry detergent that is safe for the body, the home, and the planet. After receiving more than $40,000 to fund her project, Lauren says she is now able to rent an office space, order ingredients for the testing of new products and get certified. In her company she hand-makes and sells alternative organic products that she learned to produce over the past two years.

She talks more about her zero-waste lifestyle and green habits in her blog Trash is for Tossers that she had created to serve her first and foremost principle: living a garbage-free green life.

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