TREY ~ What daily waste habits of the New York crowd just really bums you out? Be honest—be brutal, even.
STEVIE ~ Oh man. The plethora of cups and bottles. That really grinds my gears (I promise I’m not old or senile.) I dove into a trash can once because I’m insane and curious and it’s all coffee cups that can’t be recycled or composted and plastic cups! I was thinking…this one trash can that is overflowing with these things can be so easily empty if a group of people had a conscious effort in the morning to bring their own cup or jar. Now picture all the trash cans in the city. My mind wraps around that pretty much every time I see an overflowing trash.
TREY ~ There’s an environmental activist and farmer fellow named Wendell Berry who’s spent most of his career arguing that to be sustainable, one must first align the workings of their homes with the patterns of the ecosystem—or get themselves in order on the small scale and work outward to preserve Mother Earth. How have you in a sense reimagined the operations of your household to be more sustainable? Do you even have a trash bin in your apartment?
STEVIE ~ I still have repercussions of my old behaviors in my cosmetic bags and closet that I am still phasing out. I used to have a hobby and addiction called online shopping. I would get packages 3 to 4 times a week ranging in sunscreens and lip balms to bulk chia seeds and cheap crop tops.
I have now reimagined my household by understanding what is a true necessity: food, few clothes, and being clean. All of these things I can accomplish in a sustainable and minimal way, whether it’s making my own almond milk, bringing my own cloth bags for groceries, or composting all my food scraps. I shop at the farmers market for fruits and veggies every week and I shop second hand for clothes and donate things I do not need. Minimal living is kind of my new obsession.
As for the trash bin, I have 3 roommates all of which are not trash free, so we do have one. They are definitely thoughtful humans who try their best though! The perks of being trash free are never ever taking out the trash again. When it is filled to the brim, it does bring me sadness, however knowing I have no contribution to the bin and where it will be going is so fulfilling.
TREY ~ Do you have any dietary restrictions that you balance along with being trashless? If so, do these restrictions make the trash free life more of a challenge to navigate?
STEVIE ~ I am gluten free and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Being trash free with these restrictions actually make it so much easier. I don’t need to read the back of any boxes or plastic packages anymore because I am not buying them! Bulk is easy depending on what you get and farmers market produce is not an issue either. I naturally stop craving chocolates and sugar I do not need, and if I do crave it, I can eat some beautiful fruit or I can get chocolate in bulk or at a specialty shop. Now, for the first time ever, I actually feel in control of what I eat. There is the constant thought of, “Okay, what do you really need, what are you actually craving?” and now those questions always fall true to what my body is actually wanting and not what it wants to binge on.
TREY ~ If you were walking down a trafficless highway in the middle of a desert out West with no water fountains, cacti, or storm clouds brewing above, you had consumed all of your water supply, and there was a bottled water vendor on the shoulder of the road, would you purchase the water or be #core and go into ultimate survivor mode and recycle your already-consumed water—if you know what I mean?
STEVIE ~ Hahahaha, this is my favorite question, and yes I know what you mean. I would like to say I would totally drink my “own water,” but if put in that desperate situation of life or death I honestly may get myself a damn bottle of water. Give me some credit though, I would keep that bottle forever and when the comfortable kind of living greets me again I will make that damn bottle either a mini terrarium or a cocktail shaker.
TREY ~ Do you have a “trash jar” (you know, like a “curse jar” that yo mamma might have kept on the kitchen table) that you put money in every time you waste something? Is this a lame question?
STEVIE ~ Haha, I do have a trash jar! I like the idea that I utilize everything I purchase and to make sure what I purchase is all around sustainable (packaging, its source, its impact, material, lifespan, and life cycle).So when I do have to throw something away, it goes in there. It sounds a bit silly but it holds me accountable and I have one of many sayings to myself that goes... “If you would be ashamed of putting it on display, then rethink it.” So there are things in there that I am ashamed of, but gotta rep it to keep myself true to my endeavors.
TREY ~ Are there any people, groups, organizations, or any zero waste resources in the local community doing sustainable or regenerative work that you’d like to mention?
STEVIE ~ There are so many people making a difference that I want to name. A really important group is North Brooklyn Farms. Last year they created an empty space into a beautiful park called the Havemeyer Park. It lasted the summer and then got torn down and made into an apartment building. This year they reshaped this unused space next to the old Domino building into a beautiful park and farm. I think it is so important for people to reconnect with nature, especially in the city. As much as anyone can scold others on overconsumption habits that deteriorate earth’s resources and trying to educate them on the importance of nature, it will not mean a thing unless they have a personal bond with what is being jeopardized. This small but amazing group of people, who have worked day in and day out to create this space for others to enjoy and connect to, have made it so easy to make this idea surface in our brains.
My friend Trey over at Etsy interviewed me about my blog/lifestyle for a project by the Etsy Sustainability Commission and the interview does not reflect the views of Etsy, Inc… itself.