Lauren Singer can fit all the trash she’s produced in three years into a jam jar. At TEDxTeen, she explains what has inspired her mission to produce as little trash as possible — or no trash at all — what she calls a zero waste lifestyle.
“To me, living a zero waste lifestyle means that I don’t make any trash,” she says, “so no sending anything to a landfill, no sending anything into a garbage can and no spitting gum on the ground and walking away.”
Singer’s change of lifestyle came in college when she started to take note of how much plastic she threw away each day. One night, making dinner, she had an epiphany: “I opened my fridge and noticed something I had never seen before: Every single thing in my fridge was one way or another covered in plastic.”
That night, she decided to quit plastic. It wasn’t easy, she says. “When you think about your everyday life, you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth. What is your toothbrush made of? Plastic. What is your toothpaste packaged in? Your face wash, your moisturizer, your contact solution, so many things that are in our everyday lives are covered in plastic,” she says, “so I realized that if I was going to move away from plastic, the only way I was going to be able to do that was by learning to make my products myself.”
After quitting plastic, Singer went a step farther — she decided to go zero waste. She learned to make toothpaste, lotion, deodorant. She stopped buying new products — whenever possible, she bought items secondhand. She bought less things; she ate only food without packaging; she downsized her possessions.
For more on Singer’s zero waste mission, watch the whole talk below:
Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker delivers a clear, straightforward talk on her idea — recognizing the realities of how much waste each of us produce daily and how that affects the environment — using her experience of deciding to cut back on her own personal waste as an example. She has a background in environmental studies and uses her knowledge of this to support her talk.