April 30, 2019
Thrive Market staffers spent the month of April celebrating the earth in a very personal way: attempting to go zero-waste for seven days. Our headquarters is already making big strides in this area (we kicked off initiatives like composting in 2018), but this year, some employees wanted to take it one step further by aiming for zero waste in their homes. Turns out, it’s not exactly easy: What started as a group of 10 Thrivers quickly dwindled to one person. UI Engineer Kelly Allin stuck with her goal of trying to live zero-waste for a week—here’s what happened.
Honestly, zero days! Everything we use comes from a bag or a box of some sort, so I almost always ended up needing to dispose of a package. Every day, at the very least, I’ve thrown away a fruit sticker, vegetable twist tie, tissue, or some other small item. The reality is, this is extremely difficult to do, and perfection can’t be achieved for the vast majority of us.
I’m lucky to have access to bulk grocery stores, as well as recycling and composting systems that help dispose of things properly, but many people don’t. Lots of products from Thrive Market come in recyclable packaging, which definitely helps, and we’re a zero-waste company, which makes it easier to waste less while I’m at work. At home, though, it becomes a lot more difficult.
Snacking! At first, it was frustrating to find out most of my favorite snacks come in packaging that’s not recyclable or compostable, but this challenge made me realize that most of my favorite snacks aren’t exactly “healthy.” Chips, cookies, candy, and protein bars almost always come in packaging that’s destined for the landfill. I realized I should probably be snacking on natural, unprocessed, single-ingredient foods, like fruit and nuts. Luckily, my local grocery store offers a wide variety of fresh items and dried fruits, nuts, and candy in bulk. I was even able to find one of my favorite snacks in bulk: chili lime plantain chips.
I was surprised to find that most meat and dairy can be industrially composted (hard to do in a home composter), and some compostable plastic utensils exist, as well!
The best tip I can offer is to be easy on yourself! Start small—try to go one day without single-use plastic—and then build on it over time. Be mindful of things you’re using. Can you reduce it or eliminate it altogether? Is there an alternative that creates less or no waste? Thinking about these things can become almost second nature as you continue on your zero-waste journey.
“The best tip I can offer is to be easy on yourself! Start small—try to go one day without single-use plastic—and then build on it over time. Be mindful of things you’re using.”
Don’t commit to being 100 percent zero-waste on day one. We live in a world of disposable, single-use everything, and the systems in place make it absurdly difficult to be completely waste-free. It’s going to take all of us making an honest effort and succeeding half of the time to make a difference, not just a few people succeeding 100 percent of the time. Every little bit has an impact, for better or for worse!
Over the last several years, I’ve thought a lot about my personal impact on the planet and what I can do to reduce it. In Los Angeles, I see a shocking amount of litter on the streets and especially on the beaches. Every time I walk on the beach, I pick up trash along the way, and the majority of what I find is plastic. Plastic takes almost 1,000 years to decompose, yet nearly every product we consume is wrapped in it. I’ll never forget when my ninth-grade biology teacher told our class, “There is no ‘away’ to throw to.” When things are put in the trash, they’re still going to exist on this planet well beyond our lifetime.
Tackle waste by following these helpful tips.
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