As you read this, you may be considering going zero-waste. Or maybe you’re just interested in what you can be doing to help the planet. MAYBE you’re here for hilarious stories of going green going terribly wrong. Fortunately, my experience wasn’t so tragic. This is the story of what happened when I tried cutting my household waste by 50%, and why I came to believe that sustainability needs to be made simpler for everyone.
I’d always had an interest in sustainability and environmental issues. In college I had a managing for sustainability minor as well as a general education theme in sustainability. I was a business major and I believed that the market was they key to making companies and individuals change their habits. But on my own, I only took the actions that I found easy. I carried a reusable coffee cup with me but I still took the styrofoam takeout container from a restaurant. I turned off the light when I left a room but I still drove the 15 minutes it took to get to work each day. For some reason or other, I was called to make this change in 2018. Everyone was making their New Year’s resolutions and I wanted mine to be meaningful and impactful.
Going zero waste sounded great on the surface but it was also intimidating. I didn’t think I could be one of those people who fit all of their trash into a tiny mason jar. Do they even buy cheddar popcorn snacks?! I bet not. So I opted for what felt a little more realistic - a 50% reduction in my trash. There seemed to be enough easy wins to start with that over the course of a year, I could make this adjustment.
My first two target areas for the house were 1) Food Scraps (have you ever thrown away all the excess greens from leeks?? There’s a ton.) 2) The Bathroom. Single use waste is everywhere in the bathroom so that seemed like another easy target for reduction. My goal was really about throwing less in the trash can and then, where I could, throw less into the recycling bin. There’s a lot of energy and transportation that goes into recycling (and we’ll get to that later) so it seemed like an extra gold star if I could do that too.
Here’s what happened. I completely failed at apartment composting techniques - which has earned itself an entire blog post down the road. Just imagine my boyfriends horror when the worms who had too much moisture in their bin decided to come out… into the kitchen. And the second thing? I realized how much of my bathroom plastic couldn’t be recycled. Not the toothpaste tube. Not the containers for my contacts or the spray pump on my hairspray. Certainly not the plastic from my toothbrush. And not the plastic deodorant stick. After assessing my bathroom one afternoon I began to feel like a character in an old black & white horror film like The Blob where all the plastic is creeping in around me and I’m screaming in a perfectly elegant fashion like they used to do.
Okay, so I had a lot of plastic in the bathroom and it couldn’t be recycled. No use crying over it. I just have to make better purchases next time, right? You may be well-versed in all things sustainable living and know where to start. But I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t even seen an alternative to plastic deodorant stick at my local food co-op yet. This is where Pinterest actually saved me with tons of articles and blog posts to help a sister out.
After much research and overthinking, I started with trying to switch to shampoo bars and clay deodorant (which comes in a glass jar). But then there was the question of how it's shipped. What good would it do for my goal if I ordered a glass jar of deodorant and it was shipped to me in packing peanuts? Now came more searching. At last, I found what I wanted to order, it arrived in a perfectly recyclable box with brown paper stuffing and I was on my way! Or so I thought. Until I started to use the shampoo bar and the all-natural clay deodorant. My sensitive is suuuper sensitive. I’m like Chucky from the Rugrats - constantly nasally and congested and always experiencing some kind of allergy or hives. Result: Itchy scalp from the shampoo bar, irritated armpits from the clay deodorant. This is one of those times where you’re tempted to give up on your goal but pure stubbornness keeps you going. There had to be something out there. To save you the rest of the saga, the products were out there. It was just much harder to find the right ones than I thought it would be. And in all of my searching, I never came across one central location to order all of these things.
A whole year out from starting on my waste-reduction New Year’s resolution, I wasn’t satisfied with the market that was in front of me. I knew that if I was so committed to my goal and felt this way, others who are busier with their careers or their commutes or social lives than I was, would probably have given up back at that point where they didn’t match up with their first shampoo bar. Or they might have accepted the packing peanuts. It had to be easier. Sustainable living is for everyone. We just have to make it accessible. It’s also unrealistic to expect people to go very far out of their way to change what they’re buying. That’s why my new-found mission is to “Make Sustainability Simple”
I have a background in business and it made sense to me to put an easy eco-friednly shopping experience in front of people that didn’t require too much research for them to find what they needed. My very first idea was to start a subscription site where you could have all of the basics (toothpaste, shampoo, soap) delivered on a regular basis completely plastic free. Someday I’ll tell you more about why that route wasn’t the best for us but a lot of it boils down to minimalism. As much as building a business is what makes it feasible for me, I didn’t want to be pushing consumerism on people or delivering them more than what they needed.
The next best thing was to create a marketplace. Somewhere were you could shop by your personal preferences without having to think about whether the product shipped in the right packaging or whether the brand was ethical (all that thinking has been done for you). And that’s where Revibe came from. By now you may be familiar with our offering - plastic free household and personal care with options available for all-natural, vegan, or organic. I handpick the products carried on our site to make sure that you’re receiving a quality product from a brand who shares our values.
I want this to be easy for you and I want you to feel good about it. I mean, low-waste is what all the cool kids are doing. Again, a separate post or 5 is on the way about how sustainability is shifting culturally from the fringe and into the limelight right next to Kate Hudson and sick action sports videos.
That is the story of why Revibe was created and the mission it’s here to accomplish. Now, I’d love to hear from you. What your adventures in sustainable living been like? Are you a zero-waste guru or just someone who’s curiously dipping your toe into the sustainable waters? Did you face similar challenges or have a completely different experience than I did? Drop a comment below!