Everyday, the zero waste movement is becoming more popular. Unfortunately, it is not so popular in Spain but in countries like EEUU and Australia many people are joining this movement. In Vivir sin plástico we have started with reducing plastic but we would love to get to zero waste at one point. No waste at all. It sound great to us! Can you imagine if all the waste that you produce in a year could fit in a jar? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone tried to do this? Definitely yes!
Kathryn is person behind the website Going Zero Waste, where you can find her experiences, tips, recipes and above all… lots of positivity! We love her website for that. It is full of joy. When you read about her experience you really want to give zero waste a go. She makes things simple. It not about all the things that you are going to miss. It is about having fun on the way to zero waste at the same time as you are making a difference.
She is constantly challenging herself and it seems to work very well. Recently she posted a pic of all her trash of one year and it fits in a jar. And this jar -even if she doesn’t think so- is still half empty. It is amazing!
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started living zero waste?
The journey started for me when I was in college. I started feeling an unbearable pain in my left breast. I couldn’t wear a bra; it was difficult to lift my arms. After going to the doctor, they found a lot of abnormal tumor growth. Thankfully, the tumors were benign. But, it didn’t stop the pain.
The whole experience made me question what I put in and on my body. I started switching to all natural products. I started cooking from scratch, and learned how to eat whole unprocessed food. Then I started making my own cleaning products. Then I started making my own beauty products and the craziest thing happened. When I switched to an all natural deodorant, my pain went away.
I had recently moved to California and was devastated to see all of the plastic in the ocean. After learning about plastic pollution and the health effects it can have on us, I decided it was best if kept it out of my home. At that point, I was making so little trash – I figured it was time to get rid of the trash can.
Has this process been difficult? What were the most difficult changes that you needed to adjust to?
No, I haven’t really found it difficult at all. My transition was very natural. It was fueled by personal health reasons and financial constraints. It’s much cheaper to cook from scratch. I do miss smore’s though. I don’t have enough time to make graham crackers and marshmallows. I fully believe the transition should be made slowly and you need to find things that are sustainable. Making a product every week is not sustainable for me. It has to last at least three months for me to make it.
And, what was the easiest and least complicated?
Easiest switch is the stuff you hear about everyday, water bottle, reusable bag, handkerchiefs – the classic switches. My favorite switches are the menstrual cup and my bidet attachment. Once you bidet – you don’t go back.
Is there any product that you would love to buy but you don’t because of the packaging, that is, something that you really miss?
S’mores. I miss s’mores. Whenever I’m out to eat at a restaurant and they have s’mores – you know I’m ordering it. Thankfully, I can go get some skillet s’mores close by. And, I really shouldn’t be eating that many s’mores to begin with. It’s a good thing it’s been relegated to only a treat while dining out. (I may or may not have dropped a pant size since GZW. ;)
You can fit all the trash of one year in a jar. And the jar is still half empty. That’s amazing! When you started one year ago, did you think that you would be able to achieve this?
Nah, it’s pretty full. But, thank you! Totally. I totally knew it was possible, if I stuck to my plan. If you think about it it took me six years to get to this point. I didn’t decide to go zero waste six years ago, but everything I did put me one step closer. Refusing is the first step. I just had to learn how to say no.
You think that recycling isn’t really the answer. Did you recycle much during this year?
We recycle about 4 bins a year. It’s a couple of wine bottles, dog food bags, some junk mail that’s snuck through, salad dressing bottles – you’ll have to pry buffalo sauce from my cold, dead hands. I could learn how to make it, but it’s something I’d have to make every week. Which I don’t find sustainable. Going through one glass bottle every couple of months, doesn’t seem worth it to make it. I do avoid plastic at all costs, even «recyclable» plastic. I try to stick to things that have 100% recycle rate like glass.
You seem really happy and positive all the time. How do you stay motivated? Have you had one of those days when you thought about taking a break and go shopping wildly?
I am an incredibly positive person. I have so much joy; because, I truly believe we can change the world. I’m an actor, which means I have pretty thick skin. Actors get told no 30 times before they get one yes. So, I’m used to a lot of negativity. It’ll eat you away inside, if you let it get to you. You just have to look on the bright side. There’s always a silver lining right?
I had a huge shopping addiction in college. I owned over 200 dresses. I actually had a dress library almost. If you had an event to go to, you’d come see me and check out a dress. Then being an actor, everything has to fit in a suitcase; because, you’re constantly traveling. Plus, actors aren’t exactly known for making a lot of money. I was so poor and had no room to store anything. I just stopped buying, and I’ve been minimizing ever since. I’m down to an 18 piece wardrobe. My mother doesn’t even know who I am anymore. lol. But, it’s been a good experiment. I like fashion far too much to stay at 18 pieces, but I probably won’t get more than 50 in my closet.
What’s your advice to people who are thinking of trying a zero waste lifestyle?
Baby steps. Use a water bottle, bring a reusable bag, start composting. It isn’t rocket science. Just a few seconds of forethought can prevent soooooo much waste. You can do it! Seriously. I will cheerlead for you so hard.
Can you please tell us something really simple that every single person could start doing today to make a difference?
w-a-t-e-r b-o-t-t-l-e. Don’t leave home with out it. I’ve started drinking almost a gallon of water a day, just by keeping one on me, and my skin has never looked better.
Surprisingly, sometimes it seems easier to be zero waste in a big city like New York than in a small town, where you don’t have a bulk store close to your place. How do you manage your zero waste shopping?
Yeah, we have a couple nearby around 20-30 minutes. I only stock up on pantry supplies about once a month, and I have friends around there I see every other week. I always plan my shopping trip when I know I’ll be in the area. It hasn’t been inconvenient.
You are very concerned about chemicals in the beauty and cleaning products. You have some diy cosmetic recipes on your website. What are your two favorites?
Deodorant – I love it so much. And, probably my dry shampoo. I’m going to be honest with you – I hate washing my hair. Hate it. So anything I can do to go one more day without a wash is always an A+ in my book.
Just in one phrase, what does zero waste mean to you?
Living life with intention.
Can you please recommend to our readers one book, one documentary and one blog.
One book: The Irresistible Revolution
One documentary: Fed Up
One blog: Local Milk
And we leave you with a few phases of her blog:
“I want to tell you one small change matters. It matters. It matters to me, it matters to future generations, it matters to you, and it matters to the world. If everyone could make one small change or two or three, imagine the difference we would make. We can change the world. We just have to take the first step.
But, today – today is not just another day. Today is the day we stop talking and start doing. I want you to pledge to use one reusable product this week instead of a disposable. If you’re feeling brave, do two or three or try going zero waste for 30 days. If you feel going zero is too extreme, try going nearo. Every little bit helps. Use the hashtag #goingzero on instagram so I can follow your journey and cheer you on! Together we can support each other. Together we can make a difference.»
Are you going zero? If so, also use the hashtag #vivirsinplástico on instagram and we will cheer you on too! We can all go zero together!
You can read this interview translated in Spanish here.