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At The Humble Co., we’re always on the lookout for people and organizations who are making positive changes to protect our planet. One of these amazing individuals is Megean Weldon, also known as Zero Waste Nerd. Megean’s zero waste blog not only chronicles her and her family’s journey but also helps others limit their trash. We interviewed Megean to learn more about zero waste practices and what we can do to help reduce our environmental footprint.
How would you describe the zero waste lifestyle movement?
I know Zero Waste can have various meanings to everyone so I’ll describe what it means to me. The term in itself can come across very exclusive. That in order to be apart of the zero waste party, you have to make absolutely zero trash which, news flash, isn’t possible. As long as we live in modern society, we will have some sort of impact on this planet. Zero Waste to me is less about the number and more about the perspective. What kinds of decisions do I make on a daily basis to reduce my waste and to tread a little lighter on this Earth? Do I make trash? Occasionally, yes! That’s just part of living. But, I can reduce my waste to nearly a jar a month with just making better decisions and rethinking my perspective on waste and consumption. Should everyone strive for a jar of waste a month? No. All of our stories, access, and journeys are very uniquely different. So, do your best. That’s the most important thing.
What prompted you to go zero waste?
Three years ago, my husband and I decided to pick up trash around our neighborhood in commemoration of Earth Day. Like every Earth Day, we always tried to do something to show our love for the planet. One year we started composting, another year we planted fruit trees, and another year we installed a rain barrel. It was always a fun activity. However, after what normally took us a half an hour to walk around our block, we spent nearly 2 whole hours filling bag after bag of filthy waste that had been carelessly thrown out and mismanaged. I was angry. So angry. Until I got home and realized that I couldn’t fit any of that garbage into my own trash can because our 30 gallon can was already overflowing with our own waste. A definite reality check for us. How could we call ourselves environmentalists? I felt like a huge hypocrite. It was then that we knew we needed to change our habits and look for ways to reduce the amount of waste we produced.
What has been the biggest challenge of a zero waste lifestyle?
The biggest challenge for me has been pet waste. We have 7 pets including 4 cats, 2 dogs, and a sassy cockatiel. Why we have so many pets is another long story. Pet care comes with a lot of packaged products. Pet food comes in plastic, dog poop has to be bagged and thrown into the garbage, and cat litter is not compostable. We do our best to make the best decisions we can like buying the biggest bag of food, reusing trash we find on the road to pick up our dog’s waste, and we source out wood chip waste for our cat boxes.
What has been the most rewarding part thus far?
The amount of people I’ve inspired has truly been the most rewarding part of this journey. I truly believe living by example is the best thing anyone can do and to see people such as my family make small changes fills my heart.
In addition to using bamboo toothbrushes, what other alternatives have you found for your day-to-day personal care products?
In addition to bamboo toothbrushes, I use many locally, handmade products that come in sustainable packaging. I also look for beauty products in bulk when I can and use my own containers to fill up, use products that focus on a circular business model, and have replaced all of my disposable objects such as razors and menstrual products with reusable alternatives.
What is some advice for someone wanting to reduce the amount of waste they produce?
My advice for someone wanting to reduce their waste is to first assess what they are already throwing away. What fills up your bin? Once you know what you are throwing away, then you can start developing a plan of attack. I have a great beginner’s guide on my blog that will walk you through the steps. But ultimately, to set yourself up for success, go at your own pace. Go slow, develop those habits, then tackle the next area of opportunity. Overall, waste reduction can be quite overwhelming so be gentle with yourself and strive for progress, not perfection.