Lauren Singer, an environmental activist who graduated from NYU and received a degree in environmental studies in 2013, is also an entrepreneur who sells natural and environmentally friendly laundry detergents through her company, Simply Co.
Singer may seem like a normal and casual New Yorker but, there is something really special about her. She lives a zero-waste lifestyle, which means she aims to reduce landfill trash to the minimum. She doesn’t use plastic or anything that is meant to be thrown away, which means she is producing quite literally no waste, fitting four full years of waste in a single glass mason jar! In contrast, on average a single American produces about 4.40 pounds of waste per day!
Is Woodward contributing to Singer’s effort to reduce waste, or is the Woodward community a part of the problem? I decided to ask around the Woodward community if they recycled and figure out why people produce so much waste.
Illeanna Calderas, a high school senior, says she recycles because she loves to be eco-friendly and hates to create waste. She says the only things that she “throws away” are items like toilet paper and kitty litter. Her family is very eco-friendly and she always grew up recycling. The food that they don’t eat they give to their pets, and left overs they use in their garden for compost. Calderas offered some ideas as to why she thinks America is turning into a wasteland. She said, “We’ve always been very wasteful because we have plenty of resources… If a palette is simply open, they will throw the whole palette away, or if its a bruised orange, it’s perfectly fine, but they throw the whole thing away.”
Mike Aldridge, a teacher at Woodward High School in Toledo, Ohio, has been married since he was 19, and for 42 years, he and his wife have been doing all they can to produce the least amount of waste possible.
He said, “The American people, I believe, are extremely spoiled and wasteful to begin with.” Aldridge attributed Americans’ wastefulness, to a lack of personal consequences. He said “there are no repercussions for it.”
Aldridge also said, “Everyone could take an extra hour of their day to focus on recycling; they’re just too lazy.”
Mr. Aldridge also said, “Grocery stores are the worst with packaging, the worst.” Which is one of the many reasons, Ms. Singer only shops at organic food markets.
Mr. Aldridge also said, “Al Gore the Vice President to Bill Clinton was an environmental activist, but he flew a private jet around that polluted the air tons.”
A zero-waste lifestyle may seem very hard to do to the average American, but Singer has it mastered. Instead of going to the store and buying products like shampoo, conditioner, and deodorants from plastics containers, she makes her own products from natural ingredients, and stocks them into mason jars. She only shops for organic foods at places that serve organic foods, like the farmers market.
When Singer shops she brings her own personal bag that isn’t plastic, but cloth, and stores all of her foods inside of her bag.
When buying liquids she brings her own personal jar or cup and fills it up with the liquid product she wants. For example, if she takes a trip to the coffee shop to get coffee, she brings her own personal cup for them to fill up with coffee, instead of taking the plastic cups, that are meant to be thrown away after use.
When buying clothes, Singer always shops 2nd hand, meaning she doesn’t ever buy new name brand clothing but shops at thrift stores such as Salvation Army and the Goodwill.
Even in the season of winter, when the raging flu and common cold on the loose, Singer uses natural ingredients to help fight these illnesses that are affordable. She makes completely zero waste medicine with common household ingredients. Singer mixes a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, a few teaspoons of chopped garlic and ginger, which both have natural anti-viral properties, a dash of cayenne pepper, a squeeze of lemon, a tablespoon of honey, a pinch of himalayan salt, which helps to neutralize the intense flavors of other ingredients, a few drops of echinacea and oil of oregano, which also has natural anti-viral properties, with option of taking it as a shot or adding warm water. This being an affordable and effective drink to help reduce the flu or cold while being chemical free.
Lauren Singer might be living a zero-waste lifestyle, but she is just a traditional New Yorker. New York City being one of the most filthiest cities in the United States, she is working to provide a better environment for the future, believing that a traditional person can make a big change.
Will America follow Singer? Or will America become a wasteland?