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  • Moore: Well good afternoon everybody and thank you for coming.

  • I'm here to introduce Lauren Singer.

  • She is a graduate of NYU.

  • She comes to us from the East Coast.

  • And she was an environmental studies major in college

  • and a lot of her experience has helped her inform sort of where she is today,

  • living a zero waste lifestyle. So I will let her tell you all about that.

  • Please welcome Lauren Singer.

  • Singer: Can everyone see, hear, if I stand here?

  • Cool. So I always like to start out by just gauging who I'm talking to

  • and I'm wondering who here hasn't heard of living zero waste

  • or who was like dragged here by a friend.

  • So everyone, see, ha, cool. So who has heard of zero waste?

  • You've heard of it. Who here thinks zero waste is possible?

  • Who here thinks its impossible? Cool.

  • So, again, my name is Lauren Singer, and I'm here because I live a zero waste lifestyle

  • and I have for the past three plus years now.

  • And so, what zero waste means is actually different to all kinds of people.

  • I was talking with my friend Colin and another women at a panel

  • the other day and to some people, living zero waste is a structural thing,

  • to some people it's a political thing, and to me, living zero waste is a personal thing.

  • And to me, living zero waste means I don't create any trash,

  • or any landfill trash. So I don't send anything to landfill.

  • And again, I have been for more than three years now.

  • But I do recycle, but very minimally.

  • Because I don't really buy anything that needs to be recycled anymore.

  • And I do compost, which was one of my biggest forms of trash before I started doing that.

  • So all of this kind of started when I was in college.

  • Are you all guys undergrad? Anyone? Ok, cool.

  • So I started everything out, I was an environmental studies major

  • but I didn't really do anything environmentally until I was about a junior in college,

  • when I saw a documentary called Gasland, which was about the effects of hydrofracking on the environment.

  • And I was obsessed with the antifracking movement.

  • And I started protesting, and lobbying and doing all of these things to raise awareness about fracking

  • and I actually, if you look at this picture you can maybe spot me out

  • in the middle doing some fist stuff.

  • So, that was my junior year. It was all dedicated towards anti fracking.

  • My senior year of college was the last year that we had to kind of wrap up all of our environmental studies

  • because, as you mentioned I was an environmental studies major,

  • and one of the classes I was in, the environmental studies capstone course,

  • was the culminating course that you have to take in order to graduate

  • and you know, inform people about sustainability.

  • But there was a girl in this class that I had watched every single day

  • for the entire semester. And she would bring this big, big, plastic bag

  • full of plastic clamshell full of food, and a plastic fork and knife

  • and a plastic water bottle, and a plastic bag of chips

  • and she would eat everything and she would just throw it in the trash.

  • And I would be like oh my god your the worst person in the world. Right?

  • Because we're these environmental studies majors and this girl was making so much trash

  • and she was not even seemingly thinking about it.

  • She would just eat, and throw it away.

  • Even though we had a comprehensive recycling program

  • still just making all of this plastic trash and it really annoyed me.

  • And so, one day after class I went home to make dinner

  • and the same way I did every other night,

  • but for some reason something was different

  • and I opened my fridge and I noticed that every single thing I had in there was packaged in plastic.

  • And I don't know how many of you guys can relate with that?

  • Yeah. And I was really mad at myself.

  • And I was really sad. And I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed that before.

  • Right? Because I was getting so mad at this girl for making so much plastic trash,

  • and it turns out that I was making just as much plastic trash,

  • I wasn't recycling everything,

  • and I was just as bad and a total hypocrite.

  • And so I felt really awful and I made a decision in that moment

  • to just stop using plastic. I didn't know how I was going to do it but I was just like done, cant.

  • And especially because I had been protesting the oil and gas industry

  • for so long and I was using one of their biggest byproducts.

  • And so that didn't align with me.

  • How could I be so vehemently opposed to an industry,

  • but still use one of their biggest by products?

  • There was a misalignment. So I decided to stop using plastic.

  • But, you guys basically all raised your hand,

  • so, if you could imagine, moving away from plastic is a probably difficult, right?

  • So, what I realized when I tried to do this

  • was that it was pretty easy for me to find stuff like food packaged free.

  • I went to natural food stores, co ops, and I was able to buy everything I needed in bulk.

  • But, what I couldn't find were things in other stores,

  • like pharmacies. I couldn't find plastic free shampoo,

  • I couldn't find plastic free toothpaste. So what I realized was I couldn't just buy

  • my way out of using plastic. I had to learn how to do a bunch of things

  • and making these products myself.

  • And so, when I started doing research

  • for these recipes, because obviously I didn't know how to make anything myself.

  • I didn’t know how to make toothpaste or deodorant or shampoo or anything.

  • I don't know many people who do, and if you do your really cool.

  • So when I started doing this research I found this blog called zero waste home,

  • started by a women named Baya Johnson.

  • Who has seen that blog before?

  • Who hasn't seen that blog before?

  • I like the more hands questions so...

  • So, Baya is awesome. She's this women who lives in Mill Valley in California.

  • And she has two kids and a husband, and a dog,

  • and the five of them live totally zero waste.

  • And I had never heard of living zero waste before

  • and I thought that for me, going plastic free, yes, I'm awesome

  • I'm doing this thing for the environment.

  • Like, I hate plastic and the oil industry

  • so I’m going to stop using plastic and I'm done. I'm good.

  • But, learning that I had the opportunity to take that one step further

  • and not produce any trash at all,

  • that was so inspiring to me because, again,

  • I studied environmental science and my life long goal

  • is just to have a positive environmental impact on the Earth,

  • and to leave it a better place than it was when I entered it.

  • And to me living zero waste has been the best way

  • to align that sentiment and those values

  • with my day to day life. Otherwise, I was just living in a way

  • that would contribute to the depletion of earths resources

  • and not actually doing anything to help.

  • And so, I decided to follow in Baya's footsteps and go zero waste.

  • So, again, a lot of you raised your hands thinking that going zero waste is really difficult,

  • and I'm sure you still think that.

  • I haven't really explained the process yet.

  • But it turned out that going zero waste was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.

  • One of the biggest things I did, and something that already started to do

  • when I was going plastic free, was shop package free.

  • So, I learned how to buy all of my fruit and vegetables at the farmers market.

  • And you guys live in Washington,

  • you have one of the most amazing places to get food from.

  • I'm super jealous. You can harvest mushrooms in your back yard,

  • that's really cool, I can't do that in Brooklyn.

  • And so, I also learned how to do things like shop at the co op and natural food store

  • and bring my own bags to fill up with things like grains

  • and I stopped buying new clothing.

  • So everything that I wear and everything that I own is second hand.

  • I don't purchase any new clothing anymore

  • because there's enough clothing already in the waste stream

  • so I feel the need to use what's already out there and adequately dispose of it

  • like doing things like textile recycling or mending things that are just a little bit ripped

  • or a little bit broken instead of throwing them away.

  • I learned how to do things like make my own products.

  • So I finally learned how to make the toothpaste,

  • and make the deodorant, and the shampoo.

  • And by doing those little things over time

  • it turns out that I was able to reduce all of the trash

  • that I was producing. And who still thinks this is hard?

  • So, when you hear zero waste it seems really daunting and impossible

  • because it's a big umbrella term.

  • It's like hearing the word climate change.

  • No one really understands what that means because it's a huge term

  • and it's not broken down for us.

  • But when you actually look at living zero waste,

  • and you bring it down into it's pieces,

  • its actually a lot of little one time or baby changes

  • that have a long term positive impact.

  • And when I started doing this I did it for myself,

  • and not for anyone else. I did it because I wanted to live

  • within my aligned values. But I'm lazy, like super lazy.

  • And I wouldn't have continued doing this

  • if it was hard or impossible or frustrating

  • or if it just like doesn't match with my personality.

  • And so I realized that actually living this lifestyle improved my life

  • and that's why I continue doing it.

  • So the first benefit of living this lifestyle is that I actually save a lot of money.

  • Just talking about second hand clothing,

  • I save so much money by doing just that.

  • I mean even that change alone has saved me I'm sure thousands of dollars

  • over that past three years.

  • If you think of something as simple as a pair of jeans,

  • you can go to a department store and buy a pair of jeans for like $200,

  • which to me is like sickening and horrible and I hate that

  • and shouldn't be the case.

  • Or, I could go to Goodwill and get a totally good pair of jeans

  • for a dollar, $5, $10.

  • So even with that, that was one of the first ways I saved money,

  • I also saved money by learning how to plan ahead.

  • So before I started living this lifestyle,

  • I was in college, and I didn't really plan.

  • Because as college students were kind of like always just doing the next thing,

  • and just scratching to get all these things done and that's it.

  • But when I actually slowed down

  • and I started thinking about the things I was purchasing,

  • especially when it came to food, because you know when I was in college

  • I would go into my fridge and realize, oh my god, it's two in the morning

  • and I have nothing. So I'd have to go to the corner store and buy crap

  • packaged in plastic and eat ice cream for dinner because

  • that was the only option I had.

  • And so when I slowed down and started living zero waste,

  • which also meant living package free,

  • I learned how to make a shopping list, and with a shopping list you go in with a plan.

  • And so I wasn't just impulse buying when I went into a store.

  • I was looking at cookies and being like hey you cookies,

  • your coming home with me. It wasn't like that at all.

  • It was almost like, I want salads for dinner every night,

  • and I'm doing this this week.

  • And so, just by making those purchasing decisions,

  • I was able to save money because I wasn't spending money on

  • things that I didn't need. I also saved a lot of money by making my own products.

  • So toothpaste, for instance, I think is a really good example

  • because if you want to use natural toothpaste,

  • a thing of toms, I think is like $7.

  • Can anyone confirm that? $7, 6 or 7 dollars.

  • Yeah, for me to make my own toothpaste its about 20 to 30 cents

  • for the same amount of product

  • and there's no packaging, there's no shipping involved in bringing a product to a store,

  • so I don't have to walk to a store, so again it's perfect for lazy me.

  • So I have all the ingredients I need to make these things

  • in my house. So, something like that saves me a ton of money.

  • The second thing is I eat better.

  • So again I mentioned going to the store and going in with a plan,

  • and because of that I wasn't making,

  • or I'm not making impulse decisions.

  • So I can't buy processed, packaged junk anymore

  • because I choose to shop package free.

  • And lucky for me and my body,

  • that stuff doesn't come package free really.

  • And if I do want to eat something that's sweet,

  • I'll either make it myself or I'll go to a place like a bakery

  • that's not using preservatives or synthetic ingredients,

  • or, believe it or not, some foods actually have petrochemicals

  • in them. So, nothing artificial.

  • So that's resulted in me feeling and being a lot healthier.

  • So things like my weight have stabilized,

  • I don't feel heavy and bloated after eating anymore,

  • which is something that used to happen all the time

  • when I was just eating impulsively all the time and I was eating sugary things.

  • So eating a lot better, saving a lot of money,

  • those things have resulted in me just feeling a lot better.

  • By feeling better I have become so much happier

  • and I have become liberated in a sense for the first time

  • I really am living the things that I want to see in the world.

  • I'm not just talking about sustainability,

  • I'm not just saying climate change is the worst,

  • screw big business. I'm making changes everyday in my life

  • that effect, you know, reversing the decisions that big businesses

  • have made. I'm saying no to plastics because I don't like what the oil

  • and gas industry has done to the environment.

  • I'm saying no to different kinds of packaged and processed foods

  • because I don't like what those things do to the environment.

  • So I'm making decisions for the first time that not only impact

  • my life buy also align with my values.

  • So, I'm sure you guys are still like this is crap.

  • This is hard, I'm not doing this,

  • but, if any of you are like maybe, kinda, perhaps, I could do it.

  • I have steps, steps that I took and that worked.

  • So the first one that I like to suggest is actually looking at your trash.

  • Because how can we reduce the trash that we are producing

  • if we don't even know what we're throwing away?

  • Right? So for me