Zero waste. You might of heard of it, or you might be thinking “what the hell is Katie doing now?”

Since I was a kid, I’ve aspired to gather the gumption and gain the intelligence to protect the planet from its own demise. But…I’ve never known exactly about how to go about achieving just that. I’m not terribly great at math (I failed pre-college algebra so I can’t solve the world’s equations, I’m not a billionaire with buckets of money to spend on green investments, and I’m not a scientist with a alternative to single use materials.

On the flip, I am a designer with a never ending curiosity and fascination with learning about new things and exploring them, with a little bit of savings and time. I’m taking the skills and strengths I do possess to instead make a difference in my life with the hope to inspire changes big or small in the lives of all of you. My hope, is that in seeing me through the zero waste challenge, that this can at least influence or inspire some plastic free habits.

Zero waste is a lifestyle geared towards the 3 principles, “Reduce Reuse Recycle”. The slight plot twist is taking “Reduce” to the next level. In that, you try your damn hardest to not send anything to the landfills. Sounds…daunting, I know. But, it can be done, and I’ll show you through my triumphs and my struggles.

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been taking notes of my lifestyle habits that not only collect the most trash, but also the most plastic. Here is the list I’ve compiled of items that I use that are single use materials that live a long life span in a landfill.

  1. Kitchen materials: hummus containers, convenient pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, plastic wrapping, plastic produce bags, foil, ziploc bags, freezer items, meat packaging, paper towels, food waste.
  2. Lifestyle: styrofoam take out containers, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic to-go containers, napkins, bags from stores
  3. Bathroom: shampoo and conditioner bottles, toothpaste container, toothbrush, cotton swabs for removing make-up and cleaning face, floss, soap dispensers, make up, hair products.

So, what does this mean for the course of the next month?

The guidelines (because I don’t like rules):

  • Groceries must be plastic free. Products packaged in glass or metal that can be re-used or refurbished are bueno because they follow the reuse principle. Hello bulk bins!
  • Switch products like soap, shampoo and conditioner to be on a “re-fillable” basis thanks to The Refill Shoppe.
  • If ordering take out, come prepared with reusable glassware. If going out to eat, same principles apply.
  • No plastic cutlery, thanks to the super handy and reusable TO-GO Bamboo Cutlery set.
  • No paper towels or napkins for messes. Shit. This one is going to be difficult. I’m the queen of spills and dribbles on myself. I’ll settle for always having a handkerchief on me instead.
  • Collect food waste for compost and use that for the fall vegetable garden.

Things I’m both excited and anxious about that I’ll openly talk about:

  • Making some new recipes and changing up my food routine, instead of always relying on plastic convenience.
  • Not ordering take out or indulging in things I love that come in plastic packaging, that currently being ice cream and popsicles. Guess that means, I’ll have to go seek those things out and enjoy them with friends instead.
  • Spending too much money (remember I’m not a millionaire, and California isn’t always the most inexpensive option).
  • To be mindful of what I do, what I consume, and what I buy. Less stuff, woohoo!
  • All the farmers markets to be had.
  • Wine and beer…I will reuse alllll the glass bottles I purchase.

That’s it for now.

– XOXO –

West Coast Katie


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