By: Kait Spielmaker.
Part 1: A Transition
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 myself to the environment. Drastically cutting the waste you produce is not an easy task, I’m learning. I have told myself that a thousand times already, but it’s a challenge I want to take on. According to a recent statistic from the EPA, containers and packaging make up about 30 percent of municipal solid waste (the largest portion) which equates to approximately 78 million tons. But how do you get around 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 a whale?
Every single day on my journey, I discover new things I need to change or adjust —my list is ever expanding. From my Amazon packages to a highly-packaged new tube of mascara, conveniences I’ve enjoyed are now causing me to think twice. Single-use plastic is more convenient, that’s for sure. It’s so easy to dispose of and never think about again. The same goes for prepackaged meals – I can just grab it out of my refrigerator on my way out the door. Reducing waste has forced me to be more strategic about planning out and preparing my meals in advance, and sometimes buying more expensive products.
Going zero waste is incredibly difficult and time-consuming, and something that isn’t easily attainable for most people, myself included. But every little bit helps. 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. I’m moving away from companies that don’t accept their corporate social responsibility, and supporting companies and brands that support you, me, and future generations.
That’s why I’m here. To share my journey so you can follow along 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’s difficult to navigate. Some of you may be just embarking on this journey and others may be much further along that I am. Like me, many of you may have been wanting to make a change like this but didn’t think you had the time, resources, money, or determination to do so. I’m doing this so we can figure it out together.
As a society, we 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 be able to enjoy its beauty and not worry about negatively affecting those around us with our everyday choices. Stay tuned in the issues ahead for my personal journey on the ebb and flow of reducing my waste, transitioning from plastic, and doing my part to contribute to a solution.
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.