By the time we’re out the door for work in the morning, most of us have brushed our teeth with our plastic toothbrush (topped with toothpaste squeezed from its plastic casing), poured some cereal from its plastic bag inside a cardboard box, and maybe even grabbed a cup of coffee to go.
But not Lauren Singer.
Instead, the 25-year-old living in Brooklyn leads a zero-waste life, which means no garbage -- ever.
After steering away from plastic towards the end of college, Singer decided to make her footprint even lighter and eliminate trash altogether.
Since reading “Silent Spring" in high school, Singer has taken an interest in sustainability. But her own epiphany came in college when, as an environmental studies major, she took a hard look in the mirror -- or more like a hard look into her refrigerator.
“Every single thing in there was packaged in plastic,” she told ABC News. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m just as bad.’ I was protesting against the oil and gas industry, but supporting them as a consumer.”
Gradually, Singer began to live her values and say no to landfills. If it can’t be recycled or composted, she’s not interested. Today, she can fit all of her trash from the last four years into a single 16-ounce mason jar.
“I’m eating healthier, saving a ton of money, and I’ve become more of a minimalist,” Singer said of her lifestyle, which she said has many benefits beyond the environmental impact.
Singer begins her day by brushing her teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and homemade toothpaste; she packs her own lunch -- made with fresh ingredients purchased from a farmer’s market -- in a stainless steel container; and shops second-hand only (the pesky pieces of plastic that fasten tags are among the few contents of her mason jar).
It was soon after Singer’s anti-plastic pledge that she realized she couldn’t “buy her way out of using plastic,” and began making many of her own products.
“I was so empowered when I realized I could stop buying toxin-laden products and I had the power to make them myself,” she said.
Now, in addition to eliminating the garbage in her own life, she's helping others follow in her footprint-less footsteps through her blog, Trash is for Tossers, and her line of sustainable cleaning products, The Simply Co.
And though her lifestyle may seem a bit drastic at first, “we can all make practical, everyday choices to make a difference,” Singer insists.
She encourages consumers to invest in more ethical products, say no to plastic straws, and bring reusable bags to the grocery store. More tips can be found on her blog.
As difficult as it may seem, Singer emphasizes the simplicity and cost efficiency of her trash-free life.
“I absolutely love this lifestyle,” she said. “I see no future of living any other way.”