Coffee-to-go cups, disposable shavers and shrink-wrapped cucumbers – Lauren Singer's world is full of ways of doing things differently to the mainstream. The young start-up founder from New York has set out to produce as little waste as possible while keeping things fun and retaining a certain lifestyle factor.
Her success speaks for itself: the waste which she has produced in the past two years fits into a fruit jar and with her blog 'Trash is for Tossers' she has become something of a poster girl for a new ecology movement for which social involvement and an appreciation of fine things are not mutually exclusive propositions. Her epiphany moment occurred during a university lecture on environmental sciences. A full waste bin at the end of every teaching unit got Lauren thinking – how can one concern oneself with sustainability on a theoretical level without applying any of this knowledge in practice? She started an experiment on her own, which she documented in her blog 'Trash is for Tossers' and on the back of which she made it onto the stage of the prestigious 'TED Talks' and into newspapers all over the world.
When asked what she misses most since changing her consumer habits, she replies with a laugh: 'Nothing at all, to be honest! On the contrary - I enjoy inventing little everyday hacks and going my own way. That's got nothing to do with abstinence. The zero waste principle has made my life more fulfilled.'
Lauren is an exception to the rule – especially in America. In a country that attaches extreme importance to convenience and in which every (plastic) bottle of water is packed in its own plastic bag to be transported home. How can one break out of such habits? According to Lauren, it's all a question of organisation and enjoying the do-it-yourself approach. Taking your jute bag with you when you go shopping, ordering cocktails without a straw and doing without a receipt for a packet of chewing gum – small steps that add up to a big difference.
'I enjoy making my own products instead of leaving the big corporations to decide what belongs in a body lotion or a toothpaste, how it is to taste or feel. I just make them myself.' In one area, Lauren saw an extreme need for action that she did not want to restrict to her own private life: 'The Simply Co' the company which she set up through Kickstarter, produces and markets environment-friendly cleaners and detergents. It is barely able to keep up with the demand for these products.
In the first instalment of 'One Minute – One Opinion', Lauren outlines the implications of the zero waste lifestyle and why she believes that convenience kills.