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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Fostering Accessibility in the Zero-Waste Movement

Part 1 – A Transition

By: Kait Spielmaker.

A Fresh Start

The new year is a time for fresh ideas, a blank slate, and creative freedom. It is a chance to try something new and become a better version of yourself than you were the year before. This year, I am devoting my time to better my individual impact on the environment. My goal is to go through this series and create something accessible for everyone, regardless of lifestyle or socio-economic class. The zero-waste movement is saturated with good intentions, but not attainable for most.

Drastically cutting the waste you produce is not an easy task, I have told myself that a thousand times already but it is a challenge I want to take on. How does one avoid plastic packaging when nearly everything we buy comes in some sort of material that eventually makes its way to a landfill, the ocean, or the stomach of the world’s wildlife? According to a recent statistic from the EPA, packaging makes up about 30% of solid waste which is nearly equal to 80 million tons in 2017.

Every single day I think of new things I need to find a way around and my list is ever-expanding. From what any online package comes in, to a new tube of mascara I take out of its package and then throw away when it’s empty. Single-use plastics are more convenient, surely. The ease of use and disposal without thinking twice is the nature of our society. The same goes for prepackaged meals I can grab out of my refrigerator on my way out the door. Reducing waste requires you to be strategic by planning out meals, buying more expensive products, and taking the time to prepare every meal you eat. Going zero waste is incredibly difficult and time-consuming, something that is not attainable to most people, myself included.

Making Changes

My goal is to focus on reducing and not rely on recycling; in the year ahead I will strive to reduce my waste by 70 to 80 percent. This change isn’t just about me cutting my waste at home, but an entire lifestyle shift away from companies that offer little transparency and do nothing in terms of corporate social responsibility. It is about supporting companies and brands that support you and where you are headed. That’s why I’m here, so you can follow my journey and take from it what you find inspiring and useful in your own life.

We live in a world that is being suffocated by non-biodegradable materials and it is difficult to navigate. Some of you may be just embarking on this journey and others may be much further along than I. Some of you may have wanted to make a change like this but didn’t think you had the time, resources, money, or determination to do so.

That’s why I’m doing this. We as a society have become indifferent to our waste and feel that this pressing issue is out of our control, that a solution is unattainable. I want to dispel that notion because I believe we can all be better, I want us to transcend the norms. We are all inhabitants of this planet and should all be able to enjoy its beauty and not worry about negatively affecting those around us with our everyday choices. Stay tuned for the ebb and flow of transitioning from plastic.


Kait is a Michigan native who recently relocated to Phoenix and is the administrative coordinator for Green Living Magazine. She is an avid hiker with a sense of adventure. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Sustainable Tourism at Arizona State University.

Photo by: Kait Spielmaker.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome! I know you’ll bring a practical approach to this, and share what you’ve learned so the average person can contribute as well :)

    Although it’s small, I’ve moved away from microwave meals, opting instead for homemade meals in glass containers (not plastic), bar soap rather than a bottle of body wash, and I just recently purchased reusable mesh produce bags and beeswax cloth to replace cling wrap!

    I am definitely looking forward to reading your adventure and learning what other changes I can make ☺️✨

  2. Yasss, GURL!
    Since moving to CO, the beauties around me have definitely influenced me to reduce as well; yet I’ve been finding out our recycling is a huge joke. I work in the food biz and I noticed our recycling bins are literally thrown to the trash everyday. The recycling bins are merely put out to keep people happy and keep them from asking “do you recycle here?” every five minutes.
    Not only my restaurant, but others as well including big stores like Whole Foods and such…all recycling just thrown to the trash.
    It’s frustrating and makes me feel like my efforts hardly count, but on the contrary; making them count so much more.
    Glad your starting this journey and excited to see what tips you’ll have.

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