Andrea Sanders of "Be Zero"
Beth Mongold, 1 Act a Day founding member
At some point in my personal evolution, it occurred to me—and maybe it has for you too--that throwing things away is a very strange practice. Even now, many years later, every time I open the garbage lid, I get a familiar feeling of guilt—this thing I am throwing away doesn't go "away," it goes somewhere else. Somewhere else might be a landfill, the ocean, or in the belly of an animal. This guilt lies right below the surface of awareness, enough to register consciously but not quite enough to think about for longer than the time it take to close the lid again.
Andrea Sanders of Be Zero has done a lot of thinking and DOING in this regard. The Founder of Be Zero, her life’s work is to educate others on how to reduce the amount of trash they produce. She spoke to the Boulder 1 Act group recently to share her techniques and the necessary shifts in thinking that allow her to only make enough trash to fit in a 1 gallon mason jar—for an entire 1 year!
It can seem impossible to extricate yourself from our throw away culture--so much of what we buy is wrapped in or made of plastic, and designed to be used once and then disposed of. Andrea discussed a few principles that support the Be Zero mindset.
Simplify your life! Own what you actually need but not more than that.
Re-ignite love and respect for the things you use—ditch the plastic and use glass jars, metal containers, things that are well made, able to be repaired, and that feel good.
Ask the stores where you purchase food and other items to source things that are plastic free and ecologically responsible. Your feedback is crucial for larger operations to change habits.
Initially, this can seem like a lot of work. But once you start to implement different systems in your life, things actually get less complicated. We will be posting more information on the process of starting to “Be Zero”-- sign up for our mailing list if you want to stay informed.
Ora Goldman, 1 Act a Day Founder
That was one of the key messages of our speaker, Andrea Sanders, Founder of Be Zero, an organization dedicated to reducing our trash footprint.
“Plastic survives everything. It ends up in the oceans and endangers our fish. If the oceans die, we die," Andrea explained. “Plastic will remain long after all of us have died.” (For more info, read this amazing infographic!)
Even plastic that is recycled rapidly declines in quality. After being recycled 2 or 3 times it then ends up in the landfills and oceans.
Making the commitment to minimize plastic requires that we change our buying habits significantly:
Buy reusable instead of disposables.
Bring mason jars to the store and fill them with bulk items.
Bring your own "to go" boxes to restaurants.
Shop at farmers markets using burlap bags.
Simplify our lives.
Things you can do
1) Cut out plastic from your life as much as possible.
2) Sponsor a speaker from the zero waste movement to speak at your local school, church group or club.
3) Make a habit of using reusable goods.
4) Practice simplicity.
5) If you invent something, design from the very start without waste as an end product.
6) Ask the restaurants you frequent to become green restaurant certified.
Resources to learn more
This infographic shows why plastic is so destructive.
Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of organizations, businesses, and thought leaders working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, and the environment.
5Gyres mission is to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure.
Life without Plastic: The one-stop shop for safe, high quality, ethically-sourced, Earth-friendly alternatives to plastic products for everyday life.
Going Zero Waste: Tips, tricks and recipes for food, toiletries and cleaning products
Plastic Free Beth : a comprehensive resource on plastic-free living.
The Green Restaurant Foundation helps restaurants reduce waste and become "green certified".