Carly Boyd, a Liberal Studies major, launched her blog, Zero Waste Project AK, for two reasons: to practice her writing skills and to document her journey to more sustainable living by going zero-waste.
Currently, the average American produces nearly four pounds of waste products per day, which over the course of the year adds up to 220 million tons of garbage.
At its nucleus, the zero-waste movement is about reducing waste production through a combination of recycling, compositing, buying in bulk, and consciously buying products that have little to no additional packaging. The end goal for followers of the zero-waste lifestyle is to produce as little garbage as possible.
“It’s about doing what we can to help protect the Earth,” Boyd said.
In her blog, Boyd discusses tips for reducing plastic consumption, recipes for do-it-yourself and waste-free personal hygiene products like deodorant and antiperspirant, and baby steps for converting to a more environmentally friendly style of living.
The blog, Boyd hopes, will act as a guide for those looking to introduce zero-waste into their lifestyle by watching how she slashed single-use plastics from her own life.
Boyd said the easiest way to start pursuing that lifestyle is using up products you already have and then replacing them with usable ones.
“That way, you’re not overwhelmed and don’t become discouraged,” Boyd explained. “I did that, and for three months I didn’t buy anything. I didn’t want to add any extra waste.”
From there, Boyd suggests establishing what your goals and boundaries are – what are you willing to or what can you give up to move towards a more sustainable way of life.
Boyd said there are a myriad of small ways to cut out excess waste, like asking that your beverage at a restaurant be served without a straw, bringing your own mug to coffee shops, and taking your own reusable bags and jars to stores and buying bulk food items instead of prepackaged ones.
“It’s not possible to be completely zero waste,” Boyd said. “But anyone can take baby steps towards reducing single-use plastics and other trash and ultimately live a more sustainable life. If everyone made a few little changes, it would mean so much to our environment.”
While the zero-waste movement isn’t exactly new — there are numerous Zero-Waste bloggers with hordes of followers on social media that document their sustainable living journeys – Boyd’s journey to zero-waste is unique because of the added challenges of living in Alaska.
In the 49th State, recycling is inefficient, as the materials, if they’re even accepted, have to go to Seattle or Portland to be processed on barges that emit gasses. There are less stores that offer bulk items than in the Lower 48. And the growing season is shorter, making homegrown produce harder to come by.
Though the lifestyle has it’s challenges, Boyd believes that her actions and her blog will inspire others to adopt the lifestyle.
“I’m hoping to model to others, both the followers of my blog and the people around me, how many small everyday ways there are to live an eco-friendlier life,” Boyd said.