Young women environmentalists are showing the rest of the world what’s possible.
Women like Kathryn Kellogg, Ariana Schwarz, Celia Ristow and Lauren Singer all have contemporary blogs on what it takes to be “zero waste” — that is, committed to reducing landfill trash at a time when the average American produces about three pounds of trash per day.
The fact that women are leading the movement isn’t a surprise to zero-waste expert Kate Bailey. “Women everywhere are deeply concerned about the health effects of the growing amount of chemicals and toxins in our everyday lives,” said Bailey, program manager at Eco-Cycle Solutions, a not-for-profit group that provides recycling and composting services in Boulder, Colorado. “Women are also the primary purchasers in the household so they are on the frontlines of hyper-consumption in the US. They’re frustrated by the growing prevalence of single-use, disposable products, the trend to over-package everything, and the lack of choices when it comes to sustainable, less toxic products.”
In Kellogg’s case, her concern for her health drew her to the zero-waste lifestyle. She blogs about it for four hours a day on Going Zero Waste. There she writes about how she successfully used only 8 ounces of waste in a year.
Kellogg acknowledged that her success can be attributed to living in California, as many of the programs she uses do not exist in the south. She told The Guardian that anybody can participate in the zero waste movement — it just depends on the degree.
Schwarz started her blog because she believed that her sustainability major focused too much on theory and not enough on lifestyle changes. She went zero waste for a month for a school project which eventually stretched into a year.
Ristow is a 24-year-old tech company worker who has her own blog called Litterless. Her blog focuses on how to reduce waste when traveling or eating out.
Unlike many zero-waste bloggers, Ristow does not keep her waste in a jar. She said it’s misleading as trash also accumulates in the production stream.
Ristow added that her lifestyle choices do not have a big impact, but she does believe that she models what daily action against climate change looks like. And that, many authorities say, is a first step in what could ultimately become a larger, more effective effort to combat climate change.