I’m that shell of a man whose sole purpose in life is liquefied sugar.


I like drinking.

Let me rephrase – I like drinking anything but agua.

It is boring. It has no taste. And when it has a taste, it is baby pool.

Thus, I have expertly trained my body to require less water than the rest of you humanoids via simple avoidance therapy.  Sometimes I wake up and feel like I’ve been mouth breathing and licking sandpaper in the Sahara for a week.  Sometimes my eyes are so dry I have to carry eye drops.  But when the wave of water wars crashes down on the world’s panic-stricken shores – you can thank me for needing less than you.  You’re welcome.

What do I drink?

Children of the early 90s, recall the scene in Men in Black where the alien crash lands and grodily inhabits the farmer’s skin then demands from his confused wife: sugar.  In water.  more sugar.  more.

Image result for sugar in water men in black meme

Welp, that’s me.  I’m that shell of a man whose sole purpose in life is liquefied sugar.

So, no surprise here that I’d scrappily find ways to get my liquifixes sans bottles, jars, caps and straws. Typical addict.

Henceforth is a list of ‘kind-of’ recipes peppered with rambling tangents.


I already told you how much I don’t like coffee.  I’m only posting this cause everyone else does.  Here’s some one-of-kind-of recipes for cof-cof.

Recipe 1 – Wasted – plastic-lined cup, stirrer, straw, time, money

At Sbux Counter: Mmmm… do you have any of that bitter, brown, acidic drink? The one that stains my teeth and makes my breath smell like poop?! Speaking of poop, I’ll want to do that right away so give me extra strength and just cut it with some liquid cow fat and high fructose syrup. Gotta gradually work up to that non-functional level of addiction, you know?

Barista hands the cup over.  “That’ll be one MILLION dollars and your first born son.” Whatever you want, just give me the goods. You are no use to me anymore, coffee maiden.

If you can’t kick this recipe, at least bring your own mug, as the trademark white coffee cups are unrecyclable due to their plastic lining.  Plus, a mug = 10% discount at lot’s of cafes, including Sbux.

It’s confusing, I know.  It looks like paper, but if it were recyclable, Sbux wouldn’t have their PR person writing this – what this really means is they talked a shit ton at ‘Cup Summits’, realized they can’t change their cups nonrecyclable qualities, conducted pilots only to see that sustainable infrastructures for the collection and repurposing of the cups into napkins/more cups are not viable, formed a coalition, and called it a day.  That is not to say they aren’t still trying.  But their 100% recyclable cup goal by 2015 needs some caffeine.

Recipe 2 – Wasted – plastic K-cup, coated paper, grounds

Brew your coffee like candy in a vending machine,

Buy a Keurig cause it’s the cool new thing!

Are you kidding me?  Donate your Keurig and never use a k-cup again.  Even the inventor of K-cups is crippled with remorse.  Most of their plastic components are non-recyclable.  Users don’t break them down.  And the compostable grounds/tea are trapped inside instead of being returned to the dirt.

John Sylvan, inventor of K-Cups

If you can’t deal with the grand inconvenience of measuring your own grounds, consider buying compostable K-Cups & do your research about them bc they’re not all made equal.

Recipe 3 – Wasted – Nothing

BUY beans in bulk at any bulk food store using your own coffee bag.  Store them in an airtight container and grind as needed.  Note – only all paper coffee bags are recyclable. The shiny ones coated in plastic/aluminum AREN’T RECYCLABLE and neither is the twist tie thing at the top.


EVEN BETTER BUY beans from a local roaster who meticulously sources their coffee and offers to grind them according to your size preference right there. Bring back the bag you originally bought it in and they will use it (ex: Runcible Spoon Cafe in Bloomington).

BREW Stop using bleached paper filters. Ain’t no need for that. Switch to unbleached and wet it before using (why?) then compost the whole thing.

EVEN BETTER BREW using a reusable filter, a percolator, or a french press – all brew better java anyways. And for goodness sake put your GROUNDS back in the GROUND.


That’s enough of that.  Pinkies up, it’s tea time.

First of all.  Herbs are medicine.  I always feel like a damn adult when I start or end my day with tea.  And sugar.  More sugar.  More.  Jk no sugar needed- unlike coffee, tea is neat in that it actually tastes like it’s made for human consumption.  Thank you flowers, you so tasty.

Recipe 1 – Wasted – Plastic covering, staple, plastic/aluminum coated wrapper

Tea is like the true box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get – until you open it and pull your hair out because you’ve just entered a Russian doll of packaging.

1. Take the plastic wrap off the box.

2: Open five individually wrapped in plastic/aluminum coated paper slips to get to the bags you want to brew.

3: Be distracted by the cute little paper quote at the end of the string almost but not quite overshadowing the company logo.  (Yeah, the stapled/taped paper quote serves no purpose other than one final advertisement in the absence of a bottle.)

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Just reading about the beauty of endangered forests on superfluous paper tea tags.

Recipe 2 – Wasted – time & energy

If you want to still have the convenience of individual bags, find a company that

  1. Doesn’t wrap the whole box
  2. Doesn’t individually wrap their bags or at least uses 100% paper if they do
  3. Does use stickers to attach the paper logo to the string – not staples
  4. Recycle the box/reuse the tin
  5. Recycle the paper tag
  6. Compost the bag and string
  7. Compost the waxy insert that houses the bags if it came with one

Sound complicated?  Sound like it involves a lot of opening pandora’s boxes?  Yup.

Two other notes about tea bags worthy of mention.  First, by god avoid the fancy new silken mesh pyramid bags – ain’t no silk worms spinning those threads.  They’re actually made of plastic (Nylon and PET).  So the bag is not compostable, nor recyclable, nor imho is it a great idea to heat plastic up to 212 degrees and drink up.  Second, the standard paper bags are often chemically treated to prevent disintegration.

Related image

Recipe 3 – Wasted – Nothing

1. Go to your farmers market, bulk store (or local cafe/tea shop if you fancy like that).  Buy loose leaf tea with your own jars/bags.  (An added bonus – you can shop with your nose).


dat ginger jasmine and Moroccan mint


2. If you are a teaddict – brew a big batch in a saucepan or pot and use a mesh strainer that you likely already own.  French Press works too. For small batches – acquire a minimally packaged reusable, metal tea ‘bag’.  Or don’t.  There are tea-experts (damn, what a chill profession) who swear that tea should be left loose in water to get the full flavor dispersed.  Makes sense to me.

3. Toss grounds in the yard – your grass will thank you.

It’s that teasy.

P.S. PAHLEASE, don’t get psyched and go buy an ingenuiTEA teapot or the like because you want to sustainable for five seconds. #godsavethequeenearth.


is weird.  Humans are the only species who consume the breast milk made for the offspring of other animals.  Big NOPE for me.  For several reasons I won’t get into. For a while I opted for soy milk like a typical veg.  But guess what, it’s expensive.  Plus, all the jollies from all the almond, cashew, soy, rice, hemp, milk in the world can’t cancel out the fact that alternative milks are just as resource intensive as the real thing AND have the added benefit of being packaged in non-recyclable cartons (IN is not part of the Carton Council’s network yet).  So, bye bye milks.  But guess what, I’m still alive and I don’t have osteoporosis…yet.

Enter homemade coconut milk and my photobombing roommate.

  1. Add boiling water to a couple cups of coconut shreds
  2. Pulse in a food processor.
  3. Let it sit and muddle, strain it.
  4. Add sugar.
  5. Dry out the coconut shreds and use them in a curry paste or granolly.

Et voila.  EZ.  It’s def not ‘milk’ btw – but it’s delicious.

Once coconut milk cools, all the oil migrates to the top and hardens.  Now you have coconut oil to cook with or make fancy body things.

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leftover coconut oil


Don’t you dare think I forgot about Kombutcha.  A slightly alcoholic drink filled with carbonation, caffeine, and good bacteria.  The Mother Mary of liquids, the trifecta of tinctures.  But…nothing makes me feel more white priveleged than burning 4 bucks on a bottle of fermented tea that will be gone in minutes.  So, I started my SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) about a month ago, from scratch.  Screw all you motherscoby’s I wanted to birth my own.


I’ll let you know how it goes.  Until it ferments, I’m addicted to…


Another obscene money torch is called ‘Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Ginger Drink’ (personally, I think my Dr. Bronner’s vibing name would up their already ridiculous profit margin but w/e).

All you do is add lemon, honey, grated ginger, and ACV to boiling water.  Bottle it up.  It gets more flavorful as the day goes on and the ginger disseminates.  Not just tasty, all four of those ingredients are super powerful in healing your throat.

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And that’s how you drink when you’re going zero waste and you don’t like water. 😉

Probst until the next post.


Feeding yourself.  Welcome to the largest learning curve to going zero waste.  I will get to where to shop and eat out later on.  This post is about my estranged relationship with my kitchen.

To be zero waste, I basically have to cook, everyday, every meal, if I want to eat.  This may seem like nbd for lots of folks.  Psh cooking…  Well, let me introduce you to MJ’s delicately-balanced diet of the last 5 years:

  1. Breakfast: Eggs
  2. Snack: Monster Rehab Energy Drink (the one that tastes like an Arnold Palmer, mmmm)
  3. Lunch: PB and J…or eat out ($$$) or cookies in office or leftovers from waitressing
  4. Snack: Probably chocolate.
  5. Dinner: A bottle of $10 wine expertly paired with Annies Mac n Cheese or some delicious eggs, again.

This is not an exaggeration.  It’s a thoughtfully crafted means of feeding myself without ever having to cook, ever.  Imagine a fridge stocked with ketchup (my love), vegan butter, and a stack of PBRs and Monsters, maybe a bagged salad.  Welcome to my icebox.  #environmentalistsarentalwayshealthfreaks

And I’m not an aberration in my generation for my lack of culinary expertise.  I’ve dated two chefs, and more than once patted my malnourished back for potentially securing a cooking cop-out for the rest of my life.

Other reasons why MJ doesn’t cook in a kitchen:**

  1. its hard
  2. it takes time
  3. it requires a small amount of planning
  4. multitasking ALWAYS leads to me burning something
  5. half of my leftovers go bad because they were never good in the first place and I get tired of half-heartedly eating them
  6. my veggies always get moldy
  7. I just never got the knack of it

You’ve gotta be thinking I’m lazy AF by this point.  Well, you’d be right.  But before you get all Judgey Judy on me, let me just refer you back to my little star up there.**

I qualified kitchen because when I’m the road to climb, I cook EVERY MEAL, EVERY DAMN DAY.  There’s not much else to do once the sun sets and it becomes an important part of the routine.  It’s communal and beautiful.  PLUS when all you have is two pots, a two burner, five spices, beans and kale, it’s a lot less overwhelming.  And that mountain air makes everything taste like the most DANK meal you’ve ever had.


But alas, none of that outdoor passion ever translated to a real kitchen.  Until…

The Pot Thickens…

Going zero waste over the last couple months I have cooked more meals at home than ever.  In the words of McCauley Caulkin: “I’m not afraid anymore!”.

When you opt to go zero waste, it’s unlikely that you have anything unnecessary in your pantry or fridge.  You keep it simple – grains and legumes.  Fruits and vegetables.  Farmer’s market eggs.  A few spices, but mainly salt and pepper, coconut oil and EVOO.  That’s it.  (At least for your first few months).

The simplicity of limitation was the magic ticket for me – going zero waste actually helped make cooking LESS overwhelming rather than a monolithic task accomplished with monumental reluctance.

Here are some of yummy tings I’ve made zero waste style in the last two weeks.

I should mention that I am an equal opportunist in my eating habits.  If it’s prepared and in front of me, I’m not going to object on principle and waste the energy within the meal.  I do, however, believe in the power of the purse -and choose not to upvote animal products with my dollar.  (Except when it’s local and ethical or I’m just dying for it…told you, scrappy equal opportunist).  That’s why, apart from eggs, every meal I make just so happens to be…vegan.  Believe me, although there are MASSIVE environmental and ethical reasons for going vegan – I am not trying to use zero waste as a way to give up cheese (i.e. nectar of the gods) or to advocate for a particular diet.

Speaking of nectar of the gods…


Of course, I’ve given up a lot to eat this way.  As I mentioned, meat and milk and bagged bread, the staples of 50s diet -weren’t a big hurdle to give up.  It’s the small stuff you don’t even think about- no more bottled beer with wax coated caps, no candy covered in shiny wrappers, no cheese (unless I drive to some far off health food store that sells weird floating mozzarella balls in bulk – I’m not that desperate yet), no tortilla chips, no frozen foods, again NO BAGGED BREAD!, no ice cream, no cartons of soy/almond milk (this stuff is heavily resource-intensive on the environment), and no late night T-bell drunchie satisfaction.

Most importantly, energy dranks (and an important source of B-vitamins I am now weakly realizing I do not have).  Before January, I bought and drank an entire case of Highball and a Monster pretty much everyday.  That life is over.  Damnit if everytime I pass the Circle K on my way to work I don’t feel the cool condensation of that 2 for $4 special, hear the pop tab click, and see the CO2 snake out of the refreshing contents within.  My Monsters in the closet.  Let me put it this way, I don’t drink coffee (the buzz is different and weird for me) so this particular snackrifice is akin to the rest of you caffeinated Americans giving up coffee, every. day.  So yeah, it gets it’s own paragraph, deal with it.  Also, Monster Reps, you dropped the ball, I could have been a hella valuable Monster Ambassador.  #toobad #kickthecan

No risk no reward

Has it been hard?  More like, frustrating at times  – I will get to that in my next post about where to buy in bulk, etc…


Cooking isn’t as scary anymore.  I feel healthier than I’ve felt in a LONG time (with the exception of an occasional day of blahness due to gorging on office sweets or drunkenly downing an entire bread loaf I made).  I even feel like I have more energy?  That was unexpected.  Also, I know every ingredient that’s going into my body because I put it there, deliberately, which is a nice feeling.  Plus, I’m learning to make things from scratch that will be engrained in me for the rest of my life….if I choose to keep this up 😉

Happy cooking ya’ll.

Squad Goals

My friends are cooler than yours.

If you ever go Zero Waste, realize that the biggest success you will ever have is not fitting 4 months of trash into a tiny mason jar which you meticulously take artsy photos of.  That’s just a perk.

What is the biggest reward is how rapidly you will see the people around you start changing their behavior as a result of your commitment.  For instance, I have done exactly ZERO preaching and proselytizing about zero waste, yet, just letting my intention be known served as a catalyst to spark respective resolutions already brewing in my closest friends.  Let me introduce you to the squad.


First there is Hana.  She works for a public parks institute and lives in a small ranch with her cat-Muus-in Bloomington, IN.  Is that too much personal info, Hana?  I mean…Helga.  Helga is amazing because she says pretty much whatever she thinks and looks you in the eye while doing it, but not in sassy way, in a, ‘just do it’ sort of way.  She was the first to say she wanted to go zero waste with me and then proceeded to send me an excel spreadsheet of all the things she could change (which made me feel totally not on top of the game because I had ZERO plans).  She is doing even more than I am and NOT EVEN WRITING ABOUT IT (we will have to change that with a guest blog appearance).  Shout out to my cocoa powder hair-Homemade-Kombucha-southern-Indiana-swamp-mama.  #constantinspiration

Second there is Juniper.  She is a bad ass b**** and she is my rock.  We play music and climb together – trusting, creative relationships like co-songwriting (ahh the vulnerability) and climbing up 1000 ft rocks together in foreign countries (plz don’t let die)…their depth CANNOT be underestimated.  Anyways, Juniper is kind of the OG (orginal gangster) no-waste woman.  She started a hydrosol company and lived in a trailer for six months for goodness sakes.  From homemade sports drinks, crocheted chalk bags, rolled herbal cigarettes, and binded journals-they’re all Junip-made and they are always hip AF.  Also, she literally uses everything until it is usable no more – about those black leggings with as many holes as some swiss chee, gurrrl, there have been some times…  But this is what I respect, she doesn’t buy what she doesn’t need – except for gear of course! 😉 Shout out to the one who inspired me to stop washing my hair – cause her’s looks DAYUM dope and hasn’t been washed it in SEVEN years.  #dontstopwontstop #dopewithoutsoap

Third there is Kelsey.  Kelsey is a treasure.  Her deal is food.  She started her own incredibly successful catering company called Plated Table which is FIRE!  AND she is a personal chef for professors AND she runs the Bloomington Winter Farmer’s Market.  Once she went a whole month eating only what she could get from the Farmer’s Market.  She constantly hosts meals at her house and if you peek inside her kitchen, its all mason jars.  OG mason jar woman.  She spends her free time pickling everything in sight #putapickleonit.  Also her closet it is the most pure example of gray minimalism I have seen.  She is doing Project 333 and she doesn’t even know it.  Before an impromptu potluck we threw last week, she told me she decided she wants to do even more to be zero waste at home!  #foodie


Fourth there is Caro.  Caro is a wildflower.  She is a smile and a dance.  I met her in college on a climbing trip and then we roadtripped summers together.  She is an amazing yoga instructor, gifted with a paintbrush, and can make you drool with what she whips up from a limited college-pantry.  A Cali gal who lives in Denver currently, I stopped at her place a few weeks back and mentioned what I was doing.  She told me she was separating out her recyclables but they ended up in the trash because her apartment complex doesn’t provide it.  A few days ago she texted and said she’s joining the crew “send me pictures of all your mason jars”.  #illshowyoumineifyoushowmeyours


Fifth there is Rachel.  She is a coworker but also sort of a work twin.  Originally from rural MN, she flapped her fabulous wings and flew to CA then NY where she was beautiful and vegan and hard working and walked everywhere and lived as rightly as she could.  She still continues to be beautiful, and live fiercely and be unapologetically evolved in Indiana…with chickens in her back yard and a little baby Hazel in her belly.  Being pregnant, she has reinvigorated her zero waste goals and is doing E-VERY-THING. she can possibly do to bring Hazel into the world with as minimal impact as possible.  Believe me, there are a million things to think about when you want a zero waste baby.  #thediapersalone


So that is the crew.  Five deep.  I am so excited to be on this journey together with them, no not all our resolutions are the same, but small behavior changes are just as important.  Also, the more you let your intention known, the more successful you yourself will be and the more likely others will join. #joinus(increepychildvoice) #butreally


May I use the bathroom?

“Death enters through the gums”

Step 1: Brush your Teeth

I’m looking for zero waste dental floss and toothbrush.  I found the Miswak stick  but everywhere I went to buy it, it is covered in plastic or would have to be shipped.  Even at my local food co-op it’s covered in plastic, then cardboard, then a stupid case that you’re not even hygienically supposed to use – PSA toothbrush cases are a lie.  Let me remind everyone that this is a STICK.  Literally a twig (albeit with dental hygiene properties-but a twig nonetheless and fastidiously packaging it up doesn’t change that and is bitterly ironic).


There are bamboo toothbrushes of course, but same problem, so much packaging, the bristles are not compostable, and then you still have to use toothpaste and water, AND buy it online if there are no local options, and it will come in even more superfluous packaging.  This picture is from a well-known nationwide environmentally friendly food store – with no bamboo options 😦



So, my thought is that with the Miswak stick (vs. bamboo) you don’t need anything.  So why not dive in and go completely zero waste?  As an additional perk, it would also be super handy on climbing roadtrips cause we all know the last thing a dirtbag wants to do is get out of the van bed to spit.  Seriously it’s literally my least favorite task.

Also, just as a side note of my bias.  I pay attention to oral health as much as the next person.  I brush two to three times a day.  And floss with the same frequency as any other sane person: right before and after a dentist appt.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  HOWEVER, I’m not convinced that any amount of fluoride or mouth detergents or soft or medium or hard bristles the dentist recommends in arbitrary alternating succession is truly going to help me more than a stick and water would.


“Death enters through the gums” – Sara Silverman, Dental Hygiene Expert

Step 2:  Floss dem toofs

And because I’m scared of death currently just about much as I’m afraid of getting another $600 cavity (Thanks Obamacare…100% kidding, I love and miss you Obama plz come back), I will be flossing despite the waste using the millions of mini floss packages my dentist has given me over the years with the same condescending but hella healthy smile. (I may also use a Waterpik already in possession- which uses water like floss but produces no waste.)   However, if I had to buy floss, I would look at these options.

Step 3: You have to poo 

Yes I use toilet paper when I am at the office or a bar what have you.  But at home, I use scrap fabric/bandanas and toss them into a bin by the loo when they’re dirty.  No different than using cloth diapers except for yes, it’s very different, it’s not messy at all, I’m not a baby.  Also, when it’s just no. 1, it’s perfectly acceptable to air dry-dudes do this ALL THE TIME.

Bottom-Line: Excuse the pun, but going without TP at home felt pretty simple.  Butt, after practice the other night, our drummer, AT, sassily asked if I was going to stop going poop when they found out I was going ‘zero waste’. It may have been less PG than that, but they laid bare a glaring truth that I hadn’t even thought about: I would have to have a compostable toilet to be zero waste.  And I don’t.  One day, I will build one.  And it shall be magnificent.  And all ye shall look upon my compostable toilet and say, ‘that is the shit’.


Step 4: Wash your hands now!

I’ve pretty much nailed down the habit of shaking off and wiping my hands on my pants post-washing instead of using a paper towel or air dryer.  It’s not rocket science.  Oh yeah, you won’t die if there are germs on your hands but if you are of the OCD kind then I recommend bringing a rag to the office.

In terms of washing at home, duh use a locally made bar soap that has no packaging.  Some Kroger’s let you cut your own soap from Zum Bars or go to a farmers market.

Step 5: Be a girl that has to deal with more complicated fun bathroom stuff

I got a pair of THINX underwear – which are pretty cool.  Facebook has been blowing up about them for what seems like ages, which means six months.  I wore them ice climbing and rock climbing in CO with no problems – although lets be real, I use them as a backup, not by themselves.  Those ads of ladies just sitting with them on as they fill up with red liquid looks soooooo uncomfortable.  Speaking of potentially uncomfortable, I bought a MeLuna Cup  and a friend is letting me borrow some cloth pads just in case which her amazing environmental activist friend hand made.  It’s safe to say I will now be having a zero waste lady time every month!

(P.S. I know this stuff isn’t something my grandma would want to hear about but the amount of waste produced by feminine hygiene products, and now the little baggies they want you to use to wrap around everything – is just obscene.  So I’m happy to share these details because it’s a fact of life; we need not be shouting it from rooftops (unless that’s your thing) but neither should we feel ashamed about it.

Step 6: Wash your hair

Simple.  Don’t.

Or if you do, do it once a week or once a month.  We don’t need to really. Use baby powder, baking soda, or cocoa powder or other dry shampoo.  I’ve been washing every month or so for the last year and it’s been grand.  My hair feels healthier yada yada.  There a million posts about this.  Also, no one seems to notice or doesn’t have the guts to say anything if they do- except for my mom and let’s be real moms are never chill about their daughter’s hair.

Step 7: Take a shower

Do it less.  And make them short.  You can skip shaving to make it quicker 🙂

There are other bathroom things I haven’t figured out yet so I will circle back another time!





It’s a state of hyperawareness, yet inaction. It’s peaceful yet also painful.

I think change is so daunting to us because we think it has to be immediate, drastic, and successful.  We think it has to be black and white in terms of success or failure despite our conscious understanding that not a single aspect of life is black and white, except for pandas, penguins, killer whales, and zebras.  I thought that would be a shorter list..

The same goes for going zero waste.  I’m feeling no insignificant unease at the fact that it is Jan 11 and I am still producing waste…likely due in some part to my tendency towards an all or nothing attitude.  The resolution is already teaching me something, even though I haven’t really dug in yet.  It’s teaching me to embrace the transitional phase.  The phase of complete imperfection in the face of a pregnant desire to expediently fulfill a goal.

It’s teaching me that transition is where you learn things.  It’s where you observe your habits, making note of what you consume and haven’t even thought about.  Or what potential waste streams are put in your life that you don’t currently and may never have a choice about.  It’s a state of hyperawareness, yet inaction.  It’s peaceful yet also painful.

To get away from the conceptual and down to the gritty – what transition means is using up your likely stacks of supplies of disposable, packaged, nonrecyclable products – rather than throwing them out unused in the name of zero waste – to replace them with reusable products.

In short, transition means you have claimed to be going zero waste, but are still actively producing waste, i.e.:

  • It means my pantry looks like the picture above because I’m using up all my packaged foods and slowly and deliberately drinking the rest of my energy drinks housed in aluminum cans.
  • It means I’m still stuck under the grateful weight of all the Holiday gifts and their wrappings.
  • It means I’m cleaning out my desk and procuring nonrecyclable stickers that are 10 years old.
  • I’m using up all my kleenex and wax paper covered cough drops and (gasp) pads and tampons.
  • It means I’m still eating ridiculously packaged Christmas candy.
  • It means that I forget and use a paper towel or toilet paper when I don’t really need it.
  • It basically means that you are consistently taking the metaphorical trash out for the next couple months.

Unless you are neurotic, going zero waste is going to take more than a couple weeks.  If you are smart, you will take the transition time as a chance to be mindful and observant of yourself, without pushing the change that you have already decided will happen to happen before your literal and figurative house is ready for it.

The Deadline

Deadlines are the best motivational speakers imho.  I’m setting a deadline of Feb 28 to use up all these products –  they will not go in my mason jar as waste produced.  However, everything that I buy new that produces waste will!  It’s a weird thing to manage, so I’m actually really looking forward to the end of Feb.





A culture predicated on an ever-expanding loop of consumerism feels wrong in your bones. It’s impossible to thrive in.

Hello my name is Em J and I am going zero waste.  I will be using this blog as a way to keep me accountable and on track.

It feels strange to write ‘into’ the internet, how easily, how invisible yet indelible your words will become with a flick of the finger.  And we say magic doesn’t exist.

My goals

  1. To treat zero waste as the goal, not as a requirement that means failure if not achieved
  2. To work towards no impact by the end of the year
  3. To become more mindful throughout the process, as a byproduct of having to do what would be thoughtless, ordinary daily tasks differently.


I just spent the last twenty days living out of a van (on the road, to rock climb).  Actually, I spent about a third of 2016 traveling and climbing – so living outside.  The van came halfway through when I met it’s bodaciously-bearded owner in Lander, WY where I was traveling in my tiny 2004 Oldsmobile Alero.

But this isn’t a travel blog about my climbing adventures.

All I’m trying to say is something we all already know, living outside, traveling, and living out of a small space allows your brain and body to do wild things like actually feel alive and unencumbered by possessions, free from the constant barrage of information, and of course, from being a desk monkey.  (I recognize my privilege in spending my time this way and grateful for it.)  It allows you to see what might be really necessary for life, and then each time you come back to your home filled with things and the land of consistent phone service and wifi, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that we’re drowning in an overabundance of un-necessity.

We’ve confused consumption and convenience with real culture and our genuine quality of life suffers greatly for it.

Where I’m at now

Currently, home is Irvington, IN, in a historic house with a BA roommate who heads up Musical Family Tree-a nonprofit that promotes local musicians, and her two cats named after drummers.  I dabble in the music scene and also work for a small but mighty woman-run nonprofit that promotes waste reduction, recycling, and composting in our environmentally-stunted state.  It’s quite a pleasure cracking open our respective bottles of wine post-work and tipsily hatching plans for recycling and how we will stand up against the mighty waste monster.

This marks my fifth waste-related job and I am 25.  It’s going to be a long career of careening commodity pricing while trying to catalyze cultural change.  And I am excited for it.

Other reasons for going zero waste:

  • I cannot consciously aim to be an expert or even a mediocre student of the waste management field without living the lifestyle that I would ask others to live if I were the orange clown preaching on the soapbox.
  • The sinking feeling of hypocrisy when I reuse, recycle, and compost everything I can but still ride the wave of consumerism like a dang Beech Boy. #pitted
  • The actual sinking feeling of the polar bear in Antarctica suffering the effects of climate change from anthropogenic activity
  • Feeling like that helpless polar bear on the shrinking iceberg in the wake of the waking nightmare that is our current governmental institution and knowing the only change we will see will be hyper-local, community-based and within ourselves.

So cheer’s to the New Year.