You might know zero waste environmentalist Lauren Singer by her Instagram handle @TrashIsForTossers, or you might be familiar with her zero waste store, Package Free Shop. Either way, Lauren has been inspiring the internet for the past eight years with her tips for living more sustainably. Who better to talk about easy switches we can all make in our daily lives as we kick off the new year.
How did you first become inspired to start @trashisfortossers
Back in 2012, I was studying Environmental Science at NYU and I spent much of my spare time protesting against fracking and big oil. In one of my classes Senior year, a classmate of mine would bring takeout lunch every day, and at the end of the class, she would throw away the plastic clamshell, bag, and utensils on her way out the door. I watched this happen over and over again, and one day I remember thinking to myself, “How can you care about the environment and still create so much waste?” That night when making dinner, I opened my refrigerator and realized that I was doing the exact same thing: EVERYTHING was packaged in plastic. I kept looking around my apartment — in my bathroom, my beauty cabinet, my cleaning products, and my closet — and realized that everything was plastic in one way or another. I realized that I wasn’t living in alignment with my values, and that my daily actions were subsidizing the very industry that I had been protesting against. That night I decided to change my consumption habits and eliminate plastic and excess waste from my life. Then in 2014, I launched the blog, Trash Is For Tossers, to document my Zero Waste journey. I wanted to share recipes and DIYs for plastic free products, and to show that reducing your individual waste can be simple, cost effective, and fun!
How did that lead to creating Shop Package Free?
In 2014, I received feedback from my Trash Is For Tossers community that people wanted Zero Waste products, but they didn’t have the time to make them themselves. This led me to launch my first company, The Simply Co., a 3-ingredient Organic, vegan laundry detergent powder that is safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment. Shortly after, I gave a TED Talk that helped spread the message of Zero Waste and connected me to other sustainability enthusiasts and people on missions to solve environmental problems through products. In 2017, I launched Package Free to create a united space for these makers of sustainable products that help reduce waste and make the world less trashy!
“Every positive impact, no matter how big or small, is still impactful!”
What easy tips do you recommend to people looking to reduce their impact on the environment?
The first thing I usually recommend to people is to start by looking in your trash can to see what types of trash you’re throwing away the most—maybe that’s plastic water bottles, plastic packaging, or food scraps—and then look into ways that you can reduce it. For example, maybe start by investing in a reusable water bottle, or trying to shop more in bulk, or starting to compost. The most important thing to remember is that going Zero Waste can’t happen over night, so take it slowly and focus on one change. Every positive impact, no matter how big or small, is still impactful!
Are there any self care practices that you’ve been integrating in your daily life recently?
I’ve been going on more walks, meditating, and giving extra love to all of my plants! Growing and cultivating things gives a sense of purpose and a greater feeling of control, which I’m sure we could all use a little bit more of right now in the uncertain times.
What does the future hold for you and Package Free?
At Package Free, we believe that access to healthy, sustainable products is a basic human right. Our long term goal is to make sustainable products at economies of scale so that they can be as accessible and affordable as products from a Proctor & Gamble or Unilever. Given the current situation with COVID-19, our primary focus at this time is serving our community and helping our customers get the essentials that they need. For the past three years since our inception, our community has come to us for daily items such as cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, food storage containers etc. to live healthy lifestyles. We are working to ensure that in these uncertain times, our customers still have safe and easy access to the products they depend on, while also working to source additional products that might be of future need to our local community and beyond.
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