Millennials; we see the word color headlines from all kinds of publications. They’re ruining the diamond industry, eating too much avocado toast and now…recycling too much? Millennial bloggers seem to be catching on to a new trend that is slowly capturing the nation’s attention.
Whether on Facebook, Instagram or their personal blogs, these people show off an astounding achievement—they can literally place their entire waste from the year in one small jar. This takes waste management to a level that our Baby Boomers could have never imagined. Can this modern approach at reducing impact be the future of all things recycling?
Kellogg is your average, 25-year-old print shop employee. She takes careful steps throughout the day, but nothing that you would spot as out of the ordinary. However, her brand “Going Zero Waste” has gathered an incredible following.
She’s often discussing her preference for homemade or compostable items. Shockingly, her trash for the past year—classified as anything that couldn’t be sent in to recycle or compost—can fit in a small sized, eight-ounce jar.
Surprisingly, since launching her waste management blog in 2015, Kellogg has felt an immense amount of backlash for what she’s doing. Even as an aspiring actress, she’s never received so much hate mail before now (and it’s all to do with her social sites).
She gets mail that criticizes her for driving or flying, since it isn’t considered sustainable. She’s even gotten hate for using toilet paper (though she has taken the step away from that with a bidet). Vegans send her mail based on her decision to eat eggs. She’s even had family members come in town and point out all plastic items in her home, as though it detracts from her waste management efforts.
The Curse of Zero Waste
When you give yourself a title like “zero waste,” you’re setting yourself up to be nit-picked. This is because it sounds like an all or nothing approach, an ultimatum if you will. When you make a major life change, whether it’s with your diet or simply your glass recycling habits, people won’t be shy to call you out because they want transparency.
When you classify yourself as a “zero waste” proponent, you automatically get stereotyped. You’re pictured to be a hippie who spends their day inebriated due to a certain plant and looking up “recycling near me” on their phones. In reality, these folks don’t fall under that awfully small umbrella term. Instead, these people are your typical modern Millennials who are only trying to save the world one small step at a time.
For many people who entered this waste management lifestyle, the inspiration wasn’t trash related. Currently we are being struck with minimalist lifestyles from all angles—simply check your streaming service of choice for the most recent documentary on how fulfilling shrinking down your life can be.
But going the way of the zero waste movement is nowhere near as difficult. In fact, many folks who consider themselves a part of this lifestyle point out that after you realize how easy it truly is, it’s kind of hard to run away from.
We’re in a time of history where the average American creates a full three pounds of waste per day—that’s as much as your average woman wants to lose to fit into her New Years dress. But how can you make this major life change in a minor, non-disruptive way?
Your first step is to shop locally. As you traipse through your local farmer’s market, you need to carry your own glass containers for vegetables in the same cloth bags you use on a week-to-week basis. Because you’re shopping in your own neighborhood, talking to the producers ahead of time can lead to your items coming in sustainable containers next week.
Don’t be afraid to take the waste management leap. The zero waste crowd is predominantly a women driven initiative. This isn’t because males don’t belong, but instead because women are typically the decision makers in the home and have chosen a life of sustainability and waste management. Don’t let this small fact intimidate you. Document your experience and share your knowledge.
Don’t Feel Discouraged
Of course, storing your trash in a jar doesn’t truly consider the carbon footprint that came with your year. It can be misleading in a way, because we ignore the effort that went into producing these items for you. However, instead take this idea and feel empowered to shop locally.
Natural living is easy, and in the next few years a zero waste lifestyle will be the new normal. Think back to the years that compost bins sounded outlandish, and now they’re commonplace. Think of how odd those first folks who hoisted solar panels on top of their roofs looked. Now every single homeowner has considered the money they could be saving if they simply made the shift.
Take the time to dive into the experiences of those folks around you. It could be so simple to make this change and make an impact that will last for generations.