FOLKDAYS Nº 121
Lauren Singer is a smart woman with a huge vision. She is the go-to girl on a mission for zero-waste living, and step-by-step, she’s slowly making new channels of thought, then breaking it down for the rest of us. For the last two and a half years - inspired by her education in Environmental Studies, and after meeting the family at California’s Zero Waste Home - she has been looking systematically through her own way of life and is tweaking every aspect of it to bring the amount of left over waste as close to nothing as humanly possible with her two step zero-waste process of evaluation and transition.
It’s easy enough to imagine how zero-waste thinking might be applicable in certain areas of a normal lifestyle. Buying second hand clothing is hardly a new idea, and businesses such as Berlin’s Original Unverpackt are springing up all over the world, introducing the concept of pre-cycling to grocery shopping (where all the food is offered to go in your own containers that you reuse each visit). Simple enough. But in Lauren’s world, trash is defined more truthfully and in its fullest reality; not just as the obvious things that we all easily perceive as rubbish, but extending out to anything that is bought, used and will become obsolete and cannot subsequently be re-used. That immediately throws so many more things into the line of environmental question. Have you ever considered – for example – the environmental impact of the packaging associated with medicines, the negative impact of those wonderfully effective cleaning products you love, what’s lurking in your toothpaste or what’s the most sustainable brand of condom on the market?
Lauren’s main line of exploration is these darker, harder to reach corners of waste reduction. Once you start delving into the wealth of information she has collected on these matters, the shocking truth starts to emerge – even the best of us are huge wasters! But I think the most important thing about the way Lauren approaches her subject is that she understands the struggle to make the right choices, and that finding the time to research everything isn’t always a realistic possible. She offers her findings on the Trash is for Tossers website, opening her life and sharing her discoveries in an honest, approachable way that makes the whole concept of change seem simple, logical and even enjoyable. For example, in making your own cleaning products from her recipes, you can find a stress-free, meditative activity. Plus – and this is something people often forget about or don’t realise when thinking about being environmentally friendly – making your own products, or investing in great quality, long life utensils saves you money in the long run.
Even when she has found a potential alternative product, Lauren doubles back to look at the component materials and fabrication methods, because even products that seem OK on the surface can have a toxic background. This starts with simple decisions like switching from plastics to glass, non-stick pans to cast iron. You get the idea. It’s a daily challenge, but the rewards in all aspects are clear – healthier, better off, and with more peace of mind. Sounds like something we could, and should all get involved with.
The next challenge for Lauren is the Simply Co: her own brand of goods. Using her extensive list of concoctions for a clean and environmentally conscious home, she is making it easy for all of us to join her in a better way of living.
Who are you?
My name is Lauren Singer. I am founder of The Simply Co. where I make Organic, Vegan cleaning products, as well as the blog Trash is for Tossers. I live a Zero Waste life in New York City.
What are you up to here and what made you start?
I began living a Zero Waste lifestyle when I was in my last year at NYU. For so long I was talking about how much I loved sustainability but I realised that I wasn't living in a way that matched up with that. So I decided to stop producing garbage because to me, it seemed like the best way to live a lifestyle that completely aligned with my values.
How has your work on Trash is for Tossers changed any of the choices you make in your personal life?
It has changed my entire life in the best possible way. I no longer produce garbage, I save money by not purchasing new items or impulsive things, I feel healthier because my diet has changed since I eat food from the farmers market, and I have more time since I have learned how to schedule myself better.
How do you imagine the ideal world?
In my ideal world there would be no such thing as an "environmentalist" because everyone would live in a way that would respect and sustain the planet.
Any last words?
For me, the most important thing I have learned, and they key to my happiness, has been to live my values.
If you’re interested in joining Lauren in learning new ways to reduce your waste, visit Trash is for Tossers.
Pictures from trashisfortossers.com text by Ruth Bartlett