Lauren Singer is a sustainability-conscious entrepreneur who has produced almost no waste in the past two years, proving that a trash-free lifestyle is indeed possible.
Lauren majored in environmental science at NYU, and it was during her student years that she began working towards a ‘Zero Waste’ goal. Today, the New Yorker does several things on a daily basis to reduce waste, including making her own toothpaste, deodorant and laundry detergent. She also founded her own eco-friendly company, ‘The Simply Co’, through which she plans to sell her homemade products.
Lauren regularly writes about her experiences of a Zero Waste life on her blog ‘Trash is for Tossers’. “There were two moments that brought me to a trash-free, waste-free lifestyle,” she revealed. “The first was my senior year of college when my professor Jeffrey Hollender emphasized the importance of living of living your values, and made me think about my own personal environmental impact.”
“The second was when a fellow environmental studies major would bring lunch to class every week in a single use plastic bag, a disposable water bottle, and a plastic takeout container. I would sit there and think, we are supposed to be the future of this planet and here we are with our trash, messing it up.”
“One day I was particularly upset after class and went home to make dinner and try to forget about it, but when I opened my refrigerator I froze. I realized that every item I had in there was wrapped or packaged, one way or another, in plastic. This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was able to look at myself and say, “YOU HYPOCRITE.” I was the green girl, not the plastic girl!It was in that moment I made the decision to eliminate all plastic from my life.”
Later, she learned about a family in California, calling themselves Zero Waste Home. “It was this Aha! moment for me,” she wrote. “I wanted to lessen my impact, so I started my Zero Waste journey. This is when I really decided that I not only needed to claim to love the environment, but actually live like I love the environment.”
Although she was determined to embrace a waste-free lifestyle, Lauren admits that the past two years haven’t been easy. “I stopped buying packaged products and began bringing my own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket,” she explained.
“I stopped buying new clothing and shopped only second hand. I continued making all of my own personal care and cleaning products. I downsized significantly by selling, donating or giving away superfluous things in my life such as all but one of my six identical spatulas, 10 pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn since high school, and a trillion decorative items that had no significance to me at all. Most importantly, I started planning potentially wasteful situations; I began saying “NO” to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts.”
“I’d say the hardest thing by far about going Zero Waste is having to live in a world where few other people care about Zero Waste,” she said. “Be prepared for people to think you’re weird. It’s not exactly cool to read, talk and think about garbage to the extent that you’ll have to, if you’re serious about going Zero Waste.”
But Lauren pointed out that even though the journey has been hard, her Zero Waste life has been well worth the effort. She says that she now saves a lot of money simply because she is prepared when she goes shopping and does not grab things impulsively. She also eats healthier because she buys organic fruits and vegetables in bulk, instead of packaged foods.
Lauren raised funds for her company through Kickstarter, where she exceeded her initial target of $10,000 four times over. She now plans to launch her first product – a three-ingredient laundry detergent – some time this year. The detergent only consists of baking soda, washing soda and castile soap, and will be available in two versions: unscented, or lavender. A few of Lauren’s other products include organic cotton t-shirts, handmade dryer balls, and recycled clay laundry scoops.
Photos: Lauren Singer/Facebook