WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER
As the Director of Special Events for Be Zero, a rad environmental non-profit spearheaded by my friend Andrea Sanders, I get to wade deep into issues of waste every day. And I love it! Embracing a suite of trash-light practices has brought so much depth and newfound determination into my life (it helps that I share a minimal waste space with Loam columnist Nikita!)
I've had a few friends in the environmental movement treat trash-light living as if it's a distraction from the direct action and advocacy we desperately need to mitigate climate change. They're hella right that it's vital that we create policies that will protect our planet—but we also need to know that we don't need a dictum from the government to build a better world. Living trash-light is just one of many ways to take power into your hands.
So why should you go trash-light in 2017?
TO EMBODY THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO BE IN THIS WORLD
2017 is going to ask a lot of us as stewards of our earth. I believe wholeheartedly that we have what it takes to fight our federal government. And that begins by acknowledging what we want for this world—healthy soils, renewable energy, circular economies—and taking the steps to bring those ideals into practice in our everyday lives. If you can't do it for yourself, it's harder to have faith that others can make the change.
TO FREE YOURSELF FROM FOSSIL FUELS
Reducing plastic consumption in your own life provides you with a framework for reducing plastic consumption as a community. Nearly every aspect of our life is shaped and sustained by fossil fuels. From the food that feeds us to the petroleum-based plastics that litter our shelves to the fast fashion we score on super sale, we are continually investing in the industry that is stealing our land and our right to life from us. And that's insane! When we choose to divest from plastics, minimize waste, and shop secondhand, we're choosing to divest from corporate interests that have never served our earth OR our economy. That's major.
TO SAVE MONEY
I spend maybe sixty bucks a week on groceries (read how here). And a big reason why is because I buy minimally processed ingredients in bulk and seasonal fruit & veg from local farmers. If you are a cash-strapped twenty-something hungry to make yourself a nice little nest egg, shop trash-light. It'll save you serious cash and give you the space to invest in experiences that really enrich your life.
TO CREATE VALUE IN YOUR LIFE
I have fewer things in my life and I love what I have a lot more. I would've never thought cleaning the kitchen could bring me joy. But my cheerfully patterned and biodegradable Swedish dishcloths make chores a little lovelier. A bevy of disposable cups have nothing on my beloved BYO mug from my friend Amelia at Two Hands Full. And perusing through my kitchen shelves, reliably stocked with glass jars of bulk legumes, grains, nuts, teas, and spices, always makes me feel like a domestic goddess even on those cold winter days when I'm wearing the same secondhand sweater I fell asleep in.
TO GENERATE ABUNDANCE
When you are surrounded by stuff, it's difficult to realize all the ways that the physical waste in your life translates to a cluttered mind. Trash-light living has opened me up to so much more abundance—in my interpersonal relationships, in my connection to the environment—than I would ever have thought possible. Free from excess stuff, you can better dive into direct action, succulent living, and embodied experiences.
READY TO GO-TRASH LIGHT? READ THIS: