These tiny tweaks to your routine make a big difference. 

By Katie Holdefehr
April 20, 2018
Kathryn Kellog

The Zero Waste movement—the philosophy that everything should be reused or recycled in order to reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills and incinerators—is a noble goal, although admittedly, isn't the sexiest concept around. But several Instagram-famous "Zero Wasters" are working hard to change that. By documenting their journeys in zero-waste living through beautiful flat-lays and ultra-flattering filters, the Zero Waste movement is becoming not only more mainstream, but certifiably cool. With these champions of the eco-friendly movement gaining tens of thousands of followers, they're inspiring a more sustainable lifestyle, one like at a time.

To find out more about how the modern Zero Waste movement is gaining traction (and learn some easy ways to join it), we reached out to Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste. She shared everything from her one simple trick for creating less trash, to the reusable bag brand she swears by—and it may just inspire you to invest in a reusable water bottle or ditch the paper plates. After all, the Earth (and your Instagram game) depends upon it. 

RS: How did you get started in the Zero Waste movement?

KK: I started going zero waste for selfish reasons. I had a breast cancer scare when I was 20. I started trying to phase endocrine disrupters out of my life, which can be found in cleaning products, beauty products, even plastic. I started DIY-ing my cleaning and beauty products to have control over the ingredients and out of financial necessity. When I moved out to California, there was litter and trash everywhere. It really solidified my own commitment to cut plastic from my life. I learned that plastic isn't just bad for our health, it's also bad for the health of the planet. 

Y'all know how much I hate food waste, let's taco bout it. 1 in 9 people go to bed on an empty stomach every night. Meanwhile the US wastes 40% of all it's food from supply to grocery stores to our own kitchens. While we can't immediately change the supply, we can help control the narrative. Shop from a local farmer. Buy the ugliest produce you can find. Buy the loneliest banana. Don't buy too much food so it doesn't go to waste. And, eat your food scraps!! Broccoli stems with some julienned carrots and green apple with a little bit of ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar make for a cool delicious slaw. Perfect for topping my black bean tacos. And, we know Nala is the real MVP when it comes to food waste. Any crumb that hits the floor, she is on it! Really excited to be raising awareness around this important issue with the UN @worldfoodprogramme_official. This is my #recipefordisaster. You can join in with the fun using the recipe for disaster hashtag. I nominate @_wastelandrebel_, @joelgamoran (Joel, you're so ready for this 😉), and @reducewhatyouproduce Snap a pic of your ugly produce, lonely bananas and meals made from food scraps! Head over to wfp.org/recipefordisaster for more info. #goingzerowaste . . #zerowaste #foodscraps #endfoodwaste #wfp #tacos #tacotuesday #farmtotable #eeeeeats #organicfood #veggielife #iamwellandgood #flashesofdelight #simplejoys #californiadreamin #bayarea #eatgoodfeelgood #eatrealfood #uglyfruitandveg

A post shared by Kathryn Kellogg (@going.zero.waste) on

RS: What's the best way to start wasting less?

KK: Start paying attention to what you're throwing away and what you're recycling. The average American throws out 4.4 pounds of trash a day! See how much of that you can reduce. Recycling is great, but it's not going to save us. We have to consume less, and we have to consume differently. Look for items without packaging, and swap out disposables for reusables. Instead of paper towels, use dish towels. Instead of paper tissues, use cloth handkerchiefs. Instead of paper plates, use real plates. Use real stuff. Use real flatware, cups, cloth napkins. This was normal living until the 70s. 

"It's not radical. It's not time consuming. It's just about building habits! Once you're in them, you won't even notice you're doing anything differently." 

RS: On your blog, you recommend starting a zero waste essentials kit—what does that include?

KK: I recommend everyone start with the big four [below!]

1. Say no to single-use plastic straws. If you like straws, you can opt for a reusable straw like glass, metal, bamboo, or silicone for kids! 

2. Bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. My favorite are BagPodz. Don't forget the reusable produce bags, too! I love Simple Ecology. Most produce doesn't even need a bag. Leave it naked.

3. Bring a full water bottle with you before you leave your house. Phone, wallet, WATER, keys—good to go. If you don't like your tap water, consider investing in a water filter. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. 

4. Say no to takeaway coffee cups by bringing your own, or asking for the coffee to stay in a real mug. I like to carry a double insulated water bottle with me. You can get hot coffee to go in the same vessel, so it's one less thing to carry around. My favorite insulated water bottles are Klean Kanteen and Healthy Human Life

Thanks so much, Kathryn! Okay, ready to join the movement? Earth Day (April 22) is a great time to kick off a few eco-friendly resolutions, then follow Kathryn on Instagram to keep the inspiration going all year long. 

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