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5 min read

This is the first in a special series of interviews with leading figures in the low-waste/plastic free field. In this episode, Elephant Box meets with Kathleen, better known as the Zero Waste Wanderess.

The Zero Waste Wanderess helps to promote a zero waste lifestyle and educate others on how to do the same. Her goal is to “live simply and creatively with less trash and more travel”. She is also an ambassador for non-profit zero waste organisation ‘Be Zero’.

In this interview with Elephant Box, the Zero Waste Wanderess talks about where her journey all began, describes exactly what the zero waste/low waste movement means to her and gives you some tips on reducing your rubbish.


Talking trash with Zero Waste Wanderess

Elephant Box meet Zero Waste Wanderess. 

What exactly is zero waste and what's the principal behind it?

Zero waste is a term initially created to describe a circular economy. In a circular economy, products are designed, manufactured and consumed in such a way that waste, essentially, doesn’t exist. 

As all products [in a circular economy] move in a circular fashion, the need for landfill doesn’t exist and ultimately the goal is to produce as close to zero waste as possible.

The term has now expanded to mean a lifestyle…which is not just about lessening how much waste you generate, it’s also about making more efforts to avoid landfill - in the grand scheme of things it all makes a difference.

Coke can abandoned on the street

When and how did your interest in zero waste begin?

I’m not really sure where or how the term came into my life, I just stumbled across it one day about a year ago.  

The idea of trash has always seemed odd to me. It didn’t make sense to me that we would buy something, use it once or twice and then throw it out. Most of the time we then go and buy it again, so when I came across the idea of zero waste I just thought yeah, it makes sense and fits in with my beliefs. I started reading about it and into the movement behind it and it all just made sense to me.

My journey was really kick started when I got in touch with Andrea Sanders who’s the founder of Be Zero, which is a non-profit organisation that inspires and educates people on zero waste and on making lifestyle choices that generate less waste.  Andrea really kick started my journey for me by just sharing her experiences and ideas. I got ideas for alternatives from her and yeah, she is just great, the whole organisation is great.

[Learn about BeZero athttp://www.bezero.org ]

Where is the line for zero waste?

(Is it about the waste that we create directly or do we also have a responsibility to consider the waste that our lifestyle choices indirectly creates?)

I really like that question.  I think that zero waste encompasses the whole spectrum. It is about what we individually create but it is also about the entire picture. At the same time, I think that we need to understand that, in our current economy, plastic is so prevalent and waste is going to happen no matter what. We’re all going to leave some sort of footprint, as long as we’re mindful of what we’re doing, of what we're consuming,  what waste goes into our lives and what goes out and trying to minimise that.

Wind farm on horizon

Do you think that the zero waste movement is gaining momentum?

Definitely.  I’m new to it, I've been into it for a year but I know it's been around for about a decade if not more. But with social media, you come across things more easily. I think that people are really starting to notice the amount of waste in the environment and people are getting concerned

What was the first thing that you cut out of your life when you started your zero waste journey?

The first thing I did was cut out the classic plastic bottles and plastic bags.

What was the hardest habit to break?

I think that it was food and my diet. I personally eat meat and it is not something that I wanted to take out of my diet; however, the meat and dairy industry has such a huge negative effect on the environment. So I try to lessen the impact [of my meat eating] by buying locally sourced meat and avoiding big companies like Tyson*.It’s a struggle because a lot of the meat comes in plastic packaging, it’s hard but because of my health purposes and my body I feel like I should consume some of it, but  I do consume way less meat than I used to.   I think that everyone has something that they struggle with in terms of zero waste and that you can’t beat yourself up about it. As long as make an effort.

* Tyson are multinational food company - one of the bad guys

Plastic free shopping

What’s the best way for someone who is interested in zero waste to get started?

Look at the big four, refusing plastic bottles, bags, coffee cups, and straws. I would also include plastic utensils in that. These are the four main things to cut out. Start there and then focus on one room in your house, look at the bathroom and see what changes you can make there, then the kitchen and what you can do there. I think just go at your own pace and have fun with it.

About the Zero Waste Wanderess 

Kathleen, also known as the Zero Waste Wanderess, is a 28 year old from Pennsylvania, US. As a Zero Waste Advocate, she strives to make daily efforts that will help lessen the amount of waste she generates and sends to landfills. She would like to see the Zero Waste movement really catch on and inspire everyone to make some change in their daily habits that will cut out trash, especially plastic. Her love for the environment is what fuels her desire to live a life with less trash. Kathleen obtained a Bachelors degree in Communications and is striving to talk about Zero Waste to the community not only through social media but eventually with presentations at businesses and schools. Other than Zero Waste she loves hiking, taking photographs, doing yoga, and being an Aunt.

Follow her on Instagram, check out her excellent website where she blogs on all aspects of zero waste,zerowastewanderess.com , subscribe to herYouTube Channel , check out herFacebook page and follow her onTwitter.


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