MegaFood | November 2021
Intrigued by the idea of a zero-waste lifestyle but have no idea where to begin? Do you have a passion for helping improve the health of the planet through your actions?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you are in the right place. We sat down with the founder of Going Zero Waste, and our dear friend Kathryn Kellogg, to learn all about how to live a sustainable, eco-friendly life. These simple tips are just what you’ll need to get started!
What sparked your passion for a zero-waste lifestyle?
It might be surprising but I didn't start going zero waste primarily because I loved the planet. I actually started practicing many of these habits out of financial necessity and for health reasons.
I had a pretty major hormonal imbalance in college which led to a lot of pain, doctor visits, full blown cystic acne, mood swings and mental health issues. So, I started reducing my exposure to endocrine disruptors which are found in a lot of products we come into daily contact with. One of my favorite books on this topic is Estrogeneration which explores the link between synthetic estrogens within our bodies and nature.
There’s not a lot of regulation or testing on many of the products we buy like plastic, beauty products, and cleaning products just to name a few so I started being very mindful of what I brought into my home by reducing plastic, eating more plant based, and DIYing a lot of my cleaning products etc. Making these changes coupled with switching out disposable products with reusable ones i.e. cloth towels instead of paper towels - saved me a lot of money!
It all clicked for me when I moved to California that the changes I was making to my personal health weren’t only better for me, they were also better for the planet. I started my blog goingzerowaste.com because I wanted people to know they could save money, be healthier, AND be more eco-friendly. It seemed like a no-brainer and I wanted to help people make this transition easy and fun.
What does zero-waste/eco-friendly living mean to you?
To me it's just about wasting less and being a good steward of what I have.
Buy fewer items. Use that last drop of shampoo. Upcycle your glass salsa jar to store leftovers. Reuse that promotional cotton tote until the straps fall off and then stitch them back on. Invest in products that will last a lifetime. Focus on timeless things that bring you joy rather than trends. Shop secondhand. Eat fewer animal products and more plants. And, remember it's not about being perfect.
We also need to hold corporations and legislators accountable to ensure safe access to clean air, clean drinking water, and a safe environment for EVERYONE.
What are your recommendations for someone who wants to get involved in their community, not just their home?
There are so many things! Host a free talk at the local library, call your local newspaper and ask about a column or an article on zero waste living, show a documentary at a community space, grab a table at the local farmers market to educate others, host a clean-up, get involved with your local government, go to city hall meetings, talk to local businesses about implementing a straw on request only policy, get local coffee shops to incentivize bringing your own cup.
And, sometimes one of the most important things we can do is have hard conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. Talk about the problems, and talk about solutions.
Living a zero waste lifestyle has saved me a lot of money, streamlined my time, and allowed me to be a happier person. It’s proven that focusing less on material objects and more on the things that truly matter in life makes you happier. Approach your talks from that perspective. Share about how you’ve benefited from making planet friendly changes in your life.
What do you wish more people knew about zero waste living?
A lot of people think zero waste living is expensive, but it’s important to remember the most eco-friendly thing you can do is use what you already have.
It’s not about running out and buying the latest and greatest eco-friendly product - it’s about mending, repairing and repurposing - at its core it’s depression-era living. I’ve saved a lot of money since going zero waste.
It’s helped me reflect and evaluate what’s truly important to me. Being content with what you have and knowing that stuff doesn’t define you is radical in a world that says BUY, BUY, BUY.
What are your top tips for getting started?
I recommend that everyone start with the big four:
- Say no to straws. If you need straws or like them, try and opt for a reusable one. My personal favorite is glass.
- Ditch the plastic water bottles. Did you know tap water is more regulated than bottled water? If you don't like the taste of your water, invest in a filter, you will save so much money in the long run. I prefer an insulated water bottle that keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
- Bring your own bags to the store. If you tend to forget, get a couple that fold up real small and attach to your key ring so they’ll always be with you.
- Avoid coffee cups. They are actually lined with plastic and unrecyclable in most places. The lids aren't recyclable either. If you have your handy-dandy insulated water bottle on you, you can grab your coffee, or ask for it in a real mug to stay.
What are the zero-waste items you can’t live without?
I love my insulated water bottle, snapware, my Thinx, and my bidet attachment.
“Very rarely do we have waste problems; we have creative thinking problems.”
“It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices.”
Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of Going Zero Waste, a lifestyle website dedicated to helping others live a healthier and more sustainable life. She’s a spokesperson for plastic-free living for National Geographic, Chief Sustainability Officer at the One Movement, and author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste which breaks eco-friendly, sustainable living down into an easy step by step process with lots of positivity and love.
Check out Kathryn in our What Matters: Planet Health Matters social series on our Instagram video tab, and give her a follow @going.zero.waste to stay in the loop on all the latest eco-friendly tips. Don’t forget to