The Ambassador Insider: On the Zero Waste Path

The Be Zero Ambassador Program brings together like-minded people from around the globe with a common goal to inspire, educate, and activate communities on practical ways to improve the health and balance of our planet through the reduction of our individual trash and plastic footprint. 

Our Be Zero Ambassadors are an amazing group of people and we want to share their insights on how they are moving towards a life with less waste and greater simplicity. We hope by sharing their stories you'll be able to find food for thought for your own life. 

In this edition, we introduce Ambassadors Abbey, Brooke, and Molly. Enjoy!

 

Molly Woodman | Nebraska 


Tell us about yourself! 

My name is Molly and I am currently living in Omaha, Nebraska. I am from Manhattan, Montana and I have lived there most of my life. I will be returning to Montana once I am done with law school here at Creighton in Omaha. A few fun facts about me include: I love to be outdoors (rafting, hiking, camping, fishing, etc.), I have a dog who is my whole world (his name is Tubby), and I play guitar in my spare time. 

What inspired you to become interested in the zero waste lifestyle? 

I saw that one of my friends was an ambassador and started to look into the Be Zero website. I have always been passionate about our beautiful environment, and it's always been something I am conscious of. The work that Be Zero is doing is so incredible, and it's a movement that we need to make in this world. 

How do you define simplicity in your personal journey?

Simplicity is something that I have not yet conquered, but I am definitely trying! I believe that this can be accomplished by working hard to eliminate things that are truly just a luxury, and sometimes it doesn't even require much work. There are some things that I have eliminated from my day-to-day life that I used to really enjoy having, but now realize it's not a necessity. These include anything from using single-use Clorox wipes, to having cable TV, to using a styrofoam container at a restaurant. It took me little effort to eliminate these things from my life and replace with something that does the job, but doesn't harm our environment. 

What are the biggest challenges for creating less waste in your home and community? 

I'll be honest in saying that it's not convenient to live a zero waste lifestyle, but it's SO worth it. As I said before, there are so many everyday things that can make your life easier, but they're also creating so much trash. I also find that the rest of the world is progressing slowly on this matter, so it's hard to find the resources you need. Right now, there is one place in Omaha (that I've found) that I can buy in bulk. That place is 10 miles across the city from me, so it's kind of a pain to have to drive all the way out there to get what I need. There are also many items that you can't find without plastic wrap on them, or some kind of single-use packaging. I find that things like this make it hard to not break down and say, "okay, it's just one piece of plastic..." But it's worth it to put in that extra work and find a product that isn't harmful to the environment. 

What tools do you find indispensable in creating less waste? 

ANYTHING REUSABLE! It is so nice to have things I can wash and reuse again and again. Water bottles, reusable dryer sheets, reusable packaging. It is amazing how much trash is eliminated by finding replacements for single use items. Also, educational resources are huge. There are so may videos, articles, and blogs out there can help you out with places to shop, recipes, etc. It's hard to come up with stuff on your own all the time, so these resources make the zero waste life much easier. 

What is the best advice you've received that supports your low-waste lifestyle? 

The best advice I've received so far is to not care what other people think. One of my fellow ambassadors said that it was kind of scary to be that person that brings your own container for meat at the store. You get funny looks and whispers. But it doesn't matter! Those people who are choosing to snicker at you don't understand that what you're doing is also helping their lifestyle as well. Be the person to explain why you brought your own container to the man/woman standing in line next to you. Take the leap and you'll be happy you did! 


Abbey Donavan | California

Tell us about yourself! 


My name is Abbey Donavan and I am from San Diego, California. I’m a Registered Veterinary Technician and am proud to be working in a lab animal environment amongst the distinguished scientists of La Jolla Institute. My husband and I have three cats (Squirrel, Joy, and Roxy) and a dachshund (Enzo). I love reading, teaching and learning yoga, hiking, and traveling.  Fun fact? I have a bifurcated uvula. 


What inspired you to become interested in the zero waste lifestyle?


While I have always considered myself an eco-friendly Earthling, I hadn’t heard of zero waste until about 2014. I'm honestly not sure how I came across the term (though I'm inclined to blame Instagram as this is how I stumble upon most things of note), but when I did, I became a certain kind of fanatical about the whole idea. 


I'm an avid reader and started devouring any information I could glean on this new (to me) aspect of living sustainably. I started with Bea Johnson's blog, Zero Waste Home, and quickly moved onto Lauren Singer's Trash is for Tossers, Andrea’s Be Zero blog, Katheryn's Going Zero Waste, and Ariana's Paris To Go. I felt I couldn't read enough about this no trash concept. Eventually I had read the zero waste bible, Bea Johnson's book, along with Cradle to Cradle, Our Stolen Future, Toxin Toxout, Garbology, The Story of Stuff, and several other notable books on the condition of our planet and what people are doing about it. Still, I could not be satisfied. So I slowly started transitioning my lifestyle. What better teacher than first hand experience, no? And what perfect timing: it was the new year, and I was in need of a resolution. 


How do you define simplicity in your personal journey? 


To me, simplicity is in our collective best interests. It means choosing to live mindfully and with intention. I fully believe that if we live with intention, we will be living our values, our best life, and in turn living a life that is more aligned with each other and our shared home. 


What are the biggest challenges for creating less waste in your home and community? 


My biggest challenges right now are actually the things I love most: my pets, family, career, and the city I live in.  


Pets: I’ve managed to minimize my pets’ carbon footprint significantly, but cat litter still poses my biggest challenge in the home. 


Family: I come from a big family and love them dearly. I do recognize that this lifestyle can seem a bit extreme to outsiders.  I definitely tone it down when I’m around them and try not to get too cringey when they break out the paper plates, but I am also slowly introducing them to my new lifestyle choices. I’m seeing little changes everywhere: just last night, my sister broke out the real plates for Halloween dinner! 


Career: Plastic has its place, and medicine is one of those places.  Even so, it’s difficult for me to see the amount of garbage bags we bring to the dumpster every day. I try to minimize my impact by wearing a cloth surgical cap that I wash weekly. I’m also working with the environmental health and safety crew to get our personal protective equipment recycled through TerraCycle.


San Diego: Unfortunately, I live 15 miles from work and do not have an electric or hybrid vehicle. Right now, SoCal is not a public transportation friendly zone. There is progress here, though: in the next couple of years, the trolley will be running from my closest stop to a stop a short walk from my work. San Diego has also taken a huge step and expressed their intent to become a zero waste city by 2040!


What tools do you find indispensable in creating less waste? 


I love items that can multitask!  These are a few of my favorites:

  • Chico Bags - I’ve had these lovelies for over five years and I’ve used them for everything from grocery shopping, to moving houses, to picking up a baker’s dozen at the bagel shop. They are so versatile and stuff down into a little pouch that I can clip onto my purse strap.  They can hold massive amounts of groceries, which means less trips up and down the stairs from the car to the condo! Chico Bag is also a Certified B Corp, so what’s not to love? 
  • bkr bottle -  While it isn’t quite as versatile as my bags, I use it every. single. day. I love that it’s made of glass and has a stylish protective silicone sleeve (is anybody else as klutzy as I am?).  I like that glass doesn’t hold any flavor, including that metallic taste you sometimes get from metal bottles.
  • My “No Trash Stash” - In my car I keep a mason jar with a stainless steel straw and a linen napkin tucked inside. The jar is a multipurpose tool that can be used for just about anything. I use it for dry goods in the bulk section, leftovers, grapes at the farmer’s market, or an impulsive stop at Jamba Juice. The straw is also for smoothie stops. The napkin is great for grabbing a baked good, an improv hankie, messes, or just looking super fancy when you dine out. 
  • Rags - I can’t even believe paper towels are a thing after using rags. We have a kitchen drawer stuffed with rags of all shapes and sizes that my grammi gave us when we moved into our new place.  I can’t even fathom the number of paper towels (and money! People literally buy these things to throw them away…like, what?) these have saved us.
  • Your brain - Last, but definitely not least. Making less trash takes some creativity!  Being creative is honestly my favorite part of living this lifestyle.


What is the best advice you've received that supports your low-waste lifestyle?


Andrea and Katheryn (from Going Zero Waste) say it all the time, and it is absolutely true: we do not live in a circular economy. Being absolutely zero is not feasible at this time, but trying will always be worth it. In yoga, we say, “It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect.” Same concept. We can practice a simplified lifestyle; there is no such thing as perfect and that in itself is beautiful.  


Brooke Lorimer | Colorado

 

Tell us about yourself!


Hi, I’m Brooke! I live in Denver, CO, before Denver I lived in Boulder for three years, before Boulder I grew up in New York. A fun fact about myself is that I am a photographer and a total foodie, I combine the two for a really fun job! 


What inspired you to become interested in the zero waste lifestyle?


While working toward my Environmental Sustainability minor at Naropa University I was looking for a practical way to integrate all that I was learning in order to practice my values. Living on the Earth in a way I could decrease my negative impact deeply appealed to me, it wasn't enough to learn about it, I wanted a practice to match. Reading Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home was my launching point into the journey of Zero Waste.


How do you define simplicity in your personal journey?


I feel it is most important for me to simplify my mindset. Doing one task at a time, relaxing into the moment (breath, presence) and practicing letting go allow me to live a simpler life. I also try to keep my possessions minimal to allow the space I live in to be intentional, waste free and simple. For me, simplicity often means freedom.


What are the biggest challenges for creating less waste in your home and community?


Right now I would say my biggest challenges are a linear, waste based economy, and recently moving in with my partner. I struggle with the pressure I put on myself and our home to be waste free, even though our current economic systems do not support this shift. My partner shares my zero waste values which is awesome, though I’m a little more aggressive about the commitment. 


What tools do you find indispensable in creating less waste?


My Klean Kanteen, mason jars and other reusable containers, bulk bags and produce bags for grocery shopping, and a loving supporting community to inspire me! 


What is the best advice you've received that supports your zero waste lifestyle?


RELAX! In talking with Chanelle Crosby, Be Zero’s Community Director, I shared concerns I had with transitioning to zero waste and moving in with my partner this summer. Chanelle reminded me it’s all about the process. Living my values is a really important shift, so recognizing all of the changes I’ve made so far and being proud of myself, in addition to making small positive shifts is what it’s all about. I used to try to jam myself forward on this path, talking with Chanelle reminded me to enjoy the journey as well!