Trash-Free Living with Lauren Singer

Take it to the Next Level with Trash-Free Living

Of course you recycle; you probably even compost. However, for those so inclined, you can take your sustainable living to the next level by working towards a totally trash-free way of life. I attended a talk at the Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley last month with trash-free advocate Lauren Singer, the valiant pioneer of zero-waste living. What a wake-up call. Here’s the gist:

Trash-Free Living
Landfill. Ew.

Trash in a Jar

Singer – a young, articulate New York City resident – relayed her journey starting as an Environmental Studies major to living the last four years virtually trash-free. The only would-be landfill trash Singer has produced since she began this challenge fits into a single 16-ounce glass mason jar. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job of reducing my trash output…

Trash-Free Living
All of Singer’s landfill trash for the last four years.

Singer’s blog is filled with helpful anecdotes and advice on how to reduce the waste you produce in general, especially what would go to a landfill. Here’s some trash for thought: the average person in the US produces a staggering 29 pounds of garbage PER WEEK, according to the EPA. Yikes.

Avoiding the Landfill

Living fully zero-waste might seem intimidating at first. Singer acknowledges that even though she reduces and reuses as much as possible, she does still produce some waste that must be either composted or recycled. I was immediately relieved to discover that Singer is not, in fact, a robot who doesn’t produce anything at all to be discarded. Though, her impact on the landfill is zero.

Going trash-free is easier than you might think. The first step is to get out of the disposable/single-use cycle our society has come to accept as normal. A quick trick Singer mentioned in her talk is bringing your own beverage containers, utensils, and shopping bags wherever you go, to avoid the one-time use coffee cups, plastic utensils, and plastic/paper shopping bags. For the next level, you can pursue the adventure of zero-waste grocery shopping.

Wear it, Don’t Waste it

Buying clothes secondhand is one of Singer’s favorite ways to reduce your impact- Crossroads Trading Co. and Buffalo Exchange and are awesome resources in the Bay Area – just be sure to recycle those price tags. Thrift stores and garage sales are other great places to find new-to-you fashion statements.

When it’s time to discard your old clothing, items that are too worn out to donate or sell may be taken to a textile recycling/take-back program in your area. Singer suggests H&M to start.
At the end of her talk, Lauren asked her audience if we want to be remembered for the trash we create. I, for one, do not. For more trash-free inspiration, check out Singer’s ultimate list of Zero-Waste Alternatives on her blog, Trash is for Tossers. 

Trash-Free Living
Lauren Singer, zero-waste pioneer.


About the Author

Danielle is a native Californian, currently residing in San Francisco. She studied art and writing, though has sincere interest in environmental and social issues. Vegan for almost a decade and a devoted nature enthusiast, Danielle is committed to a conscious, healthy, and compassionate lifestyle. Her passions include hiking, camping, backpacking, live music, plant-based cooking, and cycling adventures. Danielle is a guest contributor for Vibrant Wellness Journal and Green Living Ideas, and loves to explore and share all things eco.

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