One jar of trash over four years: young woman embraces a zero-waste lifestyle

Every year the world produces 130 billion tons of waste. In just the  New York metropolitan area, 12,000 tons of garbage is produced everyday. Yet, a young woman in New York City can fit all her trash into one mason jar.

Twenty-five-year-old Lauren Singer has embraced a zero-waste lifestyle.

She put all the trash she collected over four years into a glass jar. Inside it are plastic tags, labels, credit cards, drinking straws, and dry packs.

“This lifestyle has afforded me so many benefits, not just not making any trash, but also saving money and eating a lot healthier,” said Singer, who has become a blogger and YouTuber.

How did she do it?

She uses canvas bags for all her groceries, and cloth instead of paper towels. She makes her own toothpaste, moisturizer, laundry detergent, and more. She shops secondhand for clothes and furniture. She gets groceries from farmer’s markets. She takes all of her organic waste to get composted.

“Over the past four years, I’ve saved about $20,000 just on groceries. I eat a lot healthier because you can’t buy junk food package-free. So all I eat is healthy, fresh, local, organic food,” said Singer.

Singer got the idea when she was still a student at New York University studying environmental sciences.

“One night at home after class, to make dinner I opened up my refrigerator and I saw that every single thing that was in there was packaged in plastic. And I felt like such a hypocrite,” she said.  

Since she’s taken on the new lifestyle, Singer said her skin has become better. She’s also lost some weight.

“Easily 5-10, and just without changing my exercise or anything. Just changing the food that I was eating. And my energy levels were so much higher, I don’t need as much sleep now. It’s been amazing,” she said.