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Building a Sustainable Future in Consumerism with Lauren Singer

Lauren Singer posing with a mason jar on her head
Lauren Singer posing with a mason jar on her head
Lauren Singer, holding a 16-oz. mason jar containing her waste collected over eight years.

Mediaplanet got the chance to speak with Package Free CEO and sustainable lifestyle pioneer, Lauren Singer, to find out more about her zero waste journey and the start of her innovative business.

What was the initial inspiration for you to start your zero waste journey?

I’ve been passionate about sustainability for a very long time, but everything for me really started when I read Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, it’s about the effects of DDT and man-made pesticides on bird populations, human populations, and the environment, and it showed me that human beings are the only creatures that really have the power and the capacity to damage the planet for everything else that lives here. That really motivated me to start thinking about the power that people have to create negative or positive impact. I initially spent most of my time protesting for the environment and talking to everybody about environmental issues, but I realized through a series of events that there was a big misalignment between the way that I was living my life every day, and the values that I had.

During that process, what did you find was the most challenging part?

Everyone always wants to know what the most challenging part was, but really none of the steps to reduce your waste are hard. The hardest thing is really the mental block and preconception that kind of leads to questions like that and thinking that reducing waste is hard. Even eliminating a little bit of waste from your routine is something really, really positive, so I learned how to change my outlook and my narrative from being like, “Oh man, I’m so bad, I made trash today,” to being more like, “Wow I’m amazing, I’m having a positive impact and saving money!”

For anyone in the mindset of not being able to start a zero waste lifestyle, how do you suggest they turn that around?

One of the things I think blocks people is that they think, “Oh I’m just one person,” or, “What difference can I really make?” But I always like to say that the average American makes about 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day. So, reducing that even a little bit helps to keep hundreds if not thousands of pounds of trash out of landfills, and that’s significant, right?

Did you find that maintaining your sustainable business practices made starting a business even harder?

I actually found that it made it a lot easier. I believe that the function of business is to solve problems and Package Free was started on the back of two major problems. One was making sustainable products more accessible and convenient for people, which was something I knew existed because of Trash is For Tossers and speaking to the community and people around me. And two, there were all these great sustainable businesses that were having a hard time growing and scaling their companies, because they were mission-driven and not necessarily business driven. We’ve kept over 100 million pieces of trash out of landfills over the past few years and we’re really just getting started.

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