Someone wise once told me, “my life philosophy is to make sure I do what I can to leave the smallest footprint possible.”
It’s essential to think critically, minimize, and choose better alternates where we can. The zero waste movement, while an essential and vital campaign to preserve our fragile planet, may sometimes create a gap too far to cross for most people, so we stall. It’s like saying if you want to run you have to run the marathon or learn to swim by going scuba diving. We spoke to some industry individuals to learn about the ways they keep their cadence and reduce waste – acknowledging that success can be built through the small steps we take before the plunge.
“The best advice I ever got about zero waste living is that it’s basically impossible. Rather than ambitious ‘zero waste’ goals– I try and determine where I produce and consume the most. The first step was cutting out paper towels and using only rags and cloth napkins. Next was straws, I bought stainless steel ones and always carry one with me. If I want bread, I plan ahead and buy it at the farmer’s market (paper or no bag) or bake it myself.” — Lillian Crowe, Sustainability Ambassador at Eileen Fisher
“What works best for you? I’m a clothes-aholic (it’s bad, like a new purchase a week bad), but instead of purchasing cheap items that only last a few washes *cough Forever 21*, I lean towards thrift store finds that have already been passed down and tend to be higher quality (my NYC favorites are Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange). Participating in clothing recycling like buyback programs at second-hand stores, is a good way to continue the cycle while earning a little extra cash on the side!” — Stephanie Viola, BS of Environmental Sciences NYU, Sustainability Research & Content Creator for KYC
“Taking action to reduce one’s negative impact on the environment can be simple- with a little organization, you can reduce your waste output in no time. Assess your waste generation by tracking the single-use utensils, packaging material, and food waste that you use and create within a week. Reduce your impact by using reusable sporks and metal straws, bringing your own bags to stores, plan meals ahead of time to minimize wasted food, and create soups with leftover food scraps to make use of the inevitable food trimmings. Once you get into the habit of reducing your environmental waste, sustainable action will feel like a breeze!” — Jordan Chang, Program Advisor at Grades of Green
“At my office I keep two mugs and one bottle to refill my water & coffee. I also keep in mind what my local shops sell, and make it a nice trip to the store to get what I need (if I can) instead of ordering online.” — May Kaewken, Solutions Engineer
“It’s all about the glass! Glass jars, glass straws, and glass tupperware. Let’s talk toilet paper. The roles without the tube inside is an easy way to eliminate the unnecessary cardboard interior. I use a Brush With Bamboo toothbrush, which eliminates annual plastic waste. I use a Hydroflask 32oz bottle and Hydroflask 20oz Coffee mug, which has withstood falling off the top of my car as I waved goodbye to my acupuncturist (who already probably thinks I’m strange). When I order takeout I try to always remember to tell them no utensils. Last but not least, no more paper towels— and it’s fun to buy a dish cloth you love. Mine is checkered and makes me happy every time I look at it, as it makes me feel like I’m doing something special in the kitchen when usually all I’m doing is washing dishes or making pasta.” — Steph Hon, Founder & CEO of Cadence
We know that the most impact comes from lobbying and voting for environmentally beneficial legislation; however, for your everyday, power can be found in making small changes to your daily routines. Consider this a stepping stone to a more waste-free lifestyle; for such a small impact on you, these suggested changes have a huge impact on the health of our mother earth. — tried & true by KYC collaborators & team