Clairity

I Learned What It Means To Live A Trash-Free Lifestyle With Lauren Singer And Lucie Fink

Let's cut the crap.

Clairity is a series introducing readers to new fashion and beauty products from brands our host, Claire Peltier, believes in. These products not only help readers look and feel good, but have a positive impact on the world, the environment, and hopefully the user's self-image, too.

Five years ago, Lauren Singer decided to live a zero-waste lifestyle. Since then, the 26-year-old has accumulated just a mason jar's worth of trash. 

"I was always talking about sustainability," Singer tells me on a hot day in Brooklyn. We were sitting in Singer's new pop-up shop, Package Free, a one-stop destination filled with everything one would need to transition to a low-waste lifestyle, from towels, to toothbrushes, to toilet paper, soaps, and beyond. "But I realized that even though I cared about it, I wasn't living that way in my everyday life. I was protesting against the oil and gas industry, but I was using plastic every day and that didn't make any sense."

Through a two-step process, Singer learned to evaluate her trash and halt her lifestyle choices negatively impacting the environment. She then outlined this process on her blog, Trash is for Tossers, and left her government job to start her own business — The Simply Co., a vegan laundry detergent company — and a pop-up shop she hopes to expand to different cities around the country. 

Sitting in Package Free, it really does seem like going zero-waste doesn't have to be all that intimidating. Singer explains that the average American makes about 4.5 pounds of trash per day. Over the course of a year, that number reaches over 1600 pounds. And in 2013, the U.S. alone produced 254 tons of waste, according to the Los Angeles Times

If I trade in my plastic coffee cup for an organic bamboo fiber mug from Package Free, however, I can start to make a difference. Pick up natural jarred deodorant, beechwood dishwashing brushes, bamboo toilet paper and Juniperseed Mercantile's Unpaper Towels, and I'm making an impact — no matter how small it feels. 

So, to evaluate how easy it could be to live a zero-waste lifestyle, I turned to another twenty-something in New York City who knows a thing or two about going trash-free. In her series, Try Living With Lucie, Refinery29's Lucie Fink went garbage-free for five days, following Singer's advice.

"My experience going trash-free was a lot easier than I thought," Fink tells me at Package Free. "I kind of had this daunting idea of what it would be like to try to reduce your waste." However, Fink adds that not a lot of places offer products in bulk, so Package Free is a recent blessing. 

"The things I really took away [from the experience] are the little tiny changes to my life. Things like not asking for a waiter to bring you a napkin when you're at a restaurant ... or going into a coffee shop and bringing a glass jar instead of getting a cup from them."

"It wasn't before looking at my impact and choices as something that could align with what I cared about," Singer tells me. "It really is when you follow your passions [that] all of these things that make you so much happier come together, and that's something that I had no idea about until I decided to go zero-waste."

Be sure to watch this month's full episode of Clairity above, and check out Package Free in Brooklyn through July 31. For more from Fink, click here, and check out Singer's blog, here.

Watch another episode of Clairity below. 

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