Talk us through your day – what get’s you out of bed?
Over the course of my 38-year lifespan, I've realized that all I have is the moment at hand. I've learned to not become attached to my ideas of things or other people's ideas of things. I don't think we fully realize the utter brilliance of the world. Compassion, curiosity, learning, and observation inspire and drive me forward.
Working for myself, my days are more fluid. With that, I know it's important for me to establish a particular framework and theme for my day. The first item on my list is taking our two dogs for a walk. I view this as a part of my meditation practice. I get to be present with them and observe the morning. It's always interesting how the day starts!
After that we'll have breakfast at home, then I'll go over my planner for the day, attend meetings, work on projects, write new ideas, and then head out to get some community time at one of my local coffee shops. At some point,
I head back for the afternoon, walk the dogs, more computer work, and then we cook up some dinner. I’ll chill out later with reading, writing or watercolor! That part sounds like I'm 4, but honestly, I like it better than watching T.V.
My daily life and work are not separate. Everything overlaps.
What was your last meal and how did you prepare it?
My last meal was sweet potato toast slices with almond butter and microgreens. I also had a side of fruit and pinto beans!
When did you decide to go zero-waste – and what motivated you?
I've been in some form of public environmental education since I was 14 years old. My motivation has always been about deepening and understanding our relationships between ourselves and the biosphere. It wasn't until 2006 that I started to think about my trash as part of my circle of relationships. Back then, there was no Instagram or even smartphones and there was really very little information or community when it came to individual methods for reducing trash. One of my first inspirations was the then new blog Zero Waste Home. Bea Johnson shared the methods her family used to dramatically reduce their trash footprint. From her family’s experimentation, I pulled out what I could and started to really dive into what the systems were behind our waste and made changes where I could.
What was the most difficult part of the journey to being zero-waste?
I really can’t say there was anything that was difficult. I think once you understand how our current infrastructure is set up - from the extraction of resources, design, consumption habits, poor material recovery and lack of producer responsibility, it’s just obvious that there is no way to actually make zero trash. I view the zero-waste movement as an opening of awareness on the ways we’ve become disconnected from our biosphere. If I had to pick the most difficult part of all this it would be trying to get individuals to really deepen their understanding of the current infrastructures around how we produce things, understanding the natural bio-systems of the earth, and the systemic environmental racism that exists. I would also tell people to let go of purity and perfection as though you can actually produce no trash.
What does your family or loved ones think? Do you live with others who agree or
disagree to your lifestyle?
My activism is based around living as a positive example. Many of my immediate friends and family have been kind and supportive of my life, but not everyone practices or perhaps agrees with what I do. And that’s absolutely fine. I don’t think we should remove ourselves from people who don’t agree with us or don’t do as we do. It’s easy in our online culture to only keep close people who believe in what we do, but I think that can be dangerous. We need to be able to agree to disagree, be flexible in our mindset, and be accepting with people who don’t believe or act the way we do.
If you can change one thing in the world, what would you change and why?
I think it would be how we unknowingly narrow and build walls to our compassion. I would wish we could all widen our compassion to include all living beings.
What’s your favorite part of being zero-waste? Is it the mason jars, or the composting – what makes you happy that you are living a sustainable lifestyle?
It would be the practice of seeing the interconnectivity of the biosphere we live in and sharing that with the world. When we realize that everything we do creates a ripple and interacts in multitudes of ways with the world - it keeps you grateful and humble.
What do you also carry with you in your bag?
I tend to carry a lot! I always have my camera and at least one extra lens. My notebook, my writing case, my Zero Waste Kit that my sweet friend Marina created, my cotton string grocery bag, sunglasses, keys, wallet, lip tint, and some kind of rock or crystal!
If someone wanted to start today, what tips or advice would you give that person?
Read! Read about the structures of our current linear infrastructure and the hopes of a circular (zero waste) one. Understand the issues with access and the disconnections we have between ourselves and others. Meet people were they are, be kind and compassionate, do what you can, don’t strive to do it all because you can’t. Disengage from single-use disposables when you can. You can learn a lot by holding a trash audit and looking closer at your consumer habits. Be resourceful, thrifty, and community centered.
My family is Italian and so much of our gatherings were centered around the kitchen and the dinner table. My dream dinner would have all my family and friends gather around a big Italian vegan dinner.
So, I love food and grew up around my father who was cooking – describe your
dream dinner in detail and guests that would join you?
Me too! My family is Italian and so much of our gatherings were centered around the kitchen and the dinner table. My dream dinner would have all my family and friends gather around a big Italian vegan dinner. Homemade marinara sauce, veggie meatballs, homemade bread, pasta, and fresh cultured vegan cheese! I would have it outside on a beautiful early evening in Bari, Italy where my grandpa’s family is from.
Any big plans coming up that you want to share? Goals for the year?
I’m working on an online audio guide on mindfulness that will be released in February! I’m also working on a small intentional guide book based on my personal practices I call bio-mindfulness (how we attend, connect, and engage in our relationships between ourselves and the planet). My goals for this year are to create more valuable content, continue to reduce my consumer habits and be a better listener.
What does the future look like?
My hope is that it looks compassionate and wise.
Who would you like next to share their story?
My friend and colleague Kate Weiner from Loam Magazine. Her voice and practices are so vital and important.