An Intern’s Experience in The Zero-Waste Movement 

Posted by AllPeople Admin on

zero waste

Caroline Cort, 5 minute read

In the year 2020 I learned that being a materialist does not necessarily come with the cost of polluting the planet. It was in the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, on a hunt for mental stimuli and a way to put beliefs into practice, that I enrolled in a Patreon course called Minimalism for Maximalists. The course is taught by artist and activist Corinne Loperfido, who currently lives in Mississippi. I had briefly met Loperfido in New Orleans a couple years back and it was she who first introduced me to the zero-waste movement through the course. I have been unable to shake her teachings, nor do I have the desire to, as my life has improved twofold since tuning in to the needs of the Earth and transitioning toward a zero-waste lifestyle (no I am not there yet and that is okay). 

Following the modern zero-waste methodology is relatively simple. The movement steeps itself in the principle of waste-prevention through reuse and conscious buying, as opposed to end-of-life waste management. The thought process broken down is, why use a plastic water bottle when I could refill my own? Or, Why buy a plastic hairbrush when I could buy a wooden one? Yes, we all need to buy stuff, but we can use the practices of reuse and conscious buying to inform our decisions. To understand the crux of this movement is to take responsibility for the waste that one produces and to realize that it does not just go “away”. Aspiring zero-wasters love reusable products, biodegradable products, and second hand products. We see recycling as a last resort at best and as a totally unreliable system at worst. When the total cost of plastic manufacturing is accounted for, especially in regards to the greenhouse gas emissions involved, the idolization of recycling begins to seem less practical. 

Since 1950 roughly only 9% of all US discarded plastic has been recycled. Unfortunately, this leaves the remaining plastic to  be incinerated, thrown into a landfill, or inadvertently left in our environment. At first this confounding fact alarmed me, but I soon grew familiar with the inadequacies of the recycling system on a global scale. Rather than let myself become overwhelmed,, with Loperfido ushering me along, I began looking into solutions around my house and online to cut down my waste. I took genuine interest in exploring plastic-free options and began to collect reusable items. It was a fun game:scruitizing over a product's origins, ingredients, ethics, and of course, packaging. A game that educated and liberated me. 

It was around this time of what felt like enlightenment, as I was purging wasteful bathroom products and donating clothing (responsibility of course), that I discovered AllPeople. Right away I recognized Allpeople as its own singular movement, though one that shared similar goals with the zero-waste movement. By offering non-toxic natural products, the Certified B-Corp company based in San Luis Obispo, CA promotes the practice of conscious consumerism and hope of a clean planet. It is clear that not everyone has enough interest or time to do the prerequisite research required of conscious buying. So when I heard about a one-stop shop featuring products already vetted as socially and environmentally responsible,I thought it was a brilliant idea. Equally as important, AllPeople’s commitment to competitive pricing debunks the common myth that a zero-waste lifestyle is only possible for the rich. I now have a little collection of reusable items and a go-to list of places to consciously shop, which I can proudly say includes AllPeople. 

So what is it like to distance oneself from the culture of disposal we are so accustomed to? Whether it is in the kitchen, the bathroom, the closet, or around the house and beyond, there is no reason to fear adopting zero-waste practices. I have learned that we don’t need one person practicing a zero-waste lifestyle perfectly, we need thousands of people practicing it imperfectly. The logic is not about being shamed into never ordering food again, it is about a deep reconnection to what genuinely benefits you physically, emotionally, and yes, even spiritually! Here are five aspects of my life that have changed for the better since I discovered the zero-waste movement. 


1 - Declutter your life and enjoy the stuff you do have more

Not only did the zero-waste movement help reconstruct my consumer habits, it provided me with a framework to evaluate the stuff already in my life. Though I did not see this as directly related to zero-waste practices, as I tapped into the world of conscious consumerism and assessed what reusable items I owned, I noticed my other habits  related to stuff. In the Patreon course Loperfido walked me through decluttering the kitchen, closet,  bathroom, garage, and even the digital world. Now that I have determined exactly what I have and what I use, I am able to rule out what I think I need. This really allows me to value what I do have and actively use. Always be sure to ethically declutter- please don’t just send things to the landfill! This is a monumental step toward abandoning the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and moving toward understanding your stuff on a personal level (shout out Marie Kondo)! 


2 - Save money.

As I start to learn more about what stuff truly serves me, I am more willing and able to say no to frivolous purchases that maybe aren’t that worth it anyways. In my experience I save money just from being a conscious consumer and shutting down wasteful shopping urges. Mostly, I save by cutting expenses on heavily-packaged,and typically less-nutritious,processed foods like cereal and snacks. Instead, I opt for foods with less packaging such as fruits and vegetables. The money saved  on food could be put towards buying local and/or organic products too. There are some simple start-up costs of adopting the practice of reuse,  such as acquiring reusable bags and glass jars, but you can always make these or find them second-hand. 


3 - Develop your inspiration to cook.

preparing food

Cooking my meals at home also no doubt saves me some cash. With more food that resembles food (sorry Hostess cupcakes) at my fingertips and less clutter in the kitchen, I can now see all that I have and I feel the inspiration of creation starting to bubble within me. Even if cooking is not your thing, it is undoubtedly rewarding and healthy to be more connected to your food. So don't be shy in trying out something simple and avoid all of the wasteful delivery packaging! 


4 - Connect with natural processes.

As I connect more with natural and sustainable food and items I pay attention to things like seasonality and harvesting practices, for they allow me to feel a deeper bond with the natural world. As I make decisions on behalf of the Earth such as buying less and producing less waste, my mentality shifts from anthropocentric to equally respecting all that lives among us humans. Nature doesn’t waste anything and we shouldn’t have to bear the emotional burden of taking and never giving back to the Earth! 


5 - Feel your own resourcefulness.

plater of resources

As I detach from a saturated consumerist culture, I begin to feel unobliged to solutions offered by corporations and have more trust in my self-sufficiency. Reusing whenever possible, buying ethical and low-waste items when I need them, and making my own meals or products allows me to do this. As I simplify the stuff in my life, I am open to making more with less. Additionally, knowing exactly what I am looking for helps me successfully navigate the unlimited amount of products on the market. Being able to turn  my back on environmentally hazardous products and unethical brands feels really good. Rather than feeling limited in choice, I feel freed. 

As AllPeople continues to grow and offer more and more products, I am confident this online-marketplace could have a significant impact on Earth through the promotion of conscious consumerism, carbon-neutral shipping and fundraising for nonprofits. AllPeople not only provides a convenient and cost-effective way to shop, it also gives back to the community through your donations. By offering healthy and natural products, while being attentive to ethical manufacturing processes, I have faith that AllPeople will be an industry disruptor. Start your journey of conscious consumerism by browsing AllPeople’s website for environmentally and socially responsible products right now! 


If you want to learn more about the zero-waste movement… 

You can subscribe to Corinne Loperfido’s inspiring and doable class on Patreon here. And/Or 

Checkout Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home for an all-encompassing take on incorporating zero-waste practices into your life.

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