Picture all of the trash you've thrown away this week. How much do you think you could reduce that amount if you really tried? By half? How about all the way to zero?
A growing number of waste experts think that shooting for zero waste is realistic, not just for individuals, but for large organizations, even cities. And there's a good reason to try: waste is a major contributor to global warming, both in the production of goods that end up in the trash and the emission of greenhouse gases from the trash itself.
Trash reduction is a start, but can we really go all the way to zero?
Lauren Singer says yes. She has lived a nearly trash-free life for the past five years. Her total garbage from that time fits in a single mason jar, one that she will happily show you.
Singer didn't get to zero waste overnight, and she doesn't expect anyone else to, either. It was a long process that started with a few simple steps. She started making her own toothpaste and found that it was really easy. She began taking reusable bags shopping, and it quickly became second-nature. Step by step, she made small changes until several pounds of trash a day became zero, almost every day.
Today, her mission is to show everyone that it's possible and it's not painful like some might expect. All it takes, says Singer, is for someone to help break it down and show how it can be done.
"People realize, oh, this isn't so hard. This isn't so isolating. This is something simple," she said.