Hi! Green Indy (est. 2017) is an online resource here to help you break down the complex issue of zero waste into simple, actionable steps.
I’m Polly – a writer, teacher, and a natural-born researcher/experimenter. I started leading a full zero-waste lifestyle in 2015 after experiencing life in an Indianapolis community where affluent trash gets left behind. Food desert conditions and a lack of infrastructure meant many of my clients and neighbors rarely ate fresh fruit or vegetables.
Since going zero waste, I’ve tried to spread the word – particularly about how accessible it is – because I’ve lived first-hand knowing how hard it is to even eat healthy when you’re worrying about paying rent.
I spent two years in Indianapolis before buying a house in Lafayette, Indiana. I’m currently in Lafayette getting to know the area, meet new people, and test strategies for engaging non-traditional audiences (ie. not us urban, affluent, white folks!) in zero waste practices.
The biggest zero waste myth
The biggest zero waste myth is that to be zero waste means you have to produce ZERO trash. False. We operate in an economy that makes it impossible to be truly zero waste. (If you don’t bring trash home, it’s just further up the production stream.) You can read more about why zero waste isn’t zero – and why that’s OK here.
There’s also the idea that zero waste is hard, expensive, and time-consuming. Yes, it might be one of the three (or maybe two at times), but not all of them. I did a case study on whether shopping at Walmart was cheaper than shopping 100% bulk – check out the answer! (Spoiler: it’s bulk!)
I know that a lot of people can’t afford zero waste options, don’t have time, or don’t even have access to the resources that would let them go fully zero waste. That’s OK. Taking steps towards reducing your waste is a huge first step. This blog is here to break down a zero waste journey into 100% manageable steps.
Explore the 12 zero waste zones
After several years of practice, wins, fails, and a lot of education, I’ve found the way I wish I’d looked at zero waste in the first place: through twelve different, but interconnected zones of life. By segmenting the idea of zero waste, it gets a little easier to tackle. The goal of “I’m going to audit my bathroom cabinet and swap two products” is so much more realistic and manageable than “I’m never making trash again!”.
Where are you going to start?
- Zone 1: A Waste-Free Kitchen. From food waste to packaging to water waste, the kitchen is a minefield of potential excess. 10 Simple Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps.
- Zone 2: A Waste-Free Bathroom. The bathroom is full of many items we can choose to not repurchase, DIY, or find non-disposable alternatives for. How I Got Rid of the Trash Can in My Bathroom.
- Zone 3: Green Cleaning. Toxic chemicals, plastic packaging, and expensive prices. Why do we buy so many cleaning supplies again? The Big List of Zero Waste Cleaning Recipes.
- Zone 4: Zero Waste IRL. The most underrated piece of advice about practicing zero waste outside of the home is this: Be Prepared with a Zero Waste Kit.
- Zone 5: A Low-Waste Workplace. Everyone can do is focus on reducing the ways they make waste at their work and gently guide co-workers in the same direction. The 5-Step Guide to Creating a Zero Waste Workplace.
- Zone 6: Minimizing Mindfully. Avoiding the landfill while minimizing is possible, but takes some mindfulness during the process. On Zero Waste and Minimalism.
- Zone 7: Your At-Home Garden. Creating your own garden and feeding yourself is so important to becoming more aware of our food habits. 8 High Impact Ways to Fight Climate Change as an Individual.
- Zone 8: De-Trash Travel. Having a small plan is an important way to reduce the waste you create while in an unfamiliar place. How and Why to Buy Carbon Offsets for Travel.
- Zone 9: All About Composting. Reducing food waste and diverting organic matter from the landfill is one of the most critical aspects of a zero waste lifestyle. A Comprehensive Guide to Composting at Home.
- Zone 10: An Ethical Wardrobe. A zero waste wardrobe is a closet in which nothing (or very little) will go to the landfill once your clothes have reached the end of your life. A Zero Waste Guide to Thrift Shopping.
- Zone 11: Community Action. Individual exploration of zero waste is critical to the success of a bigger change, but only if we turn individual action into community action. We Need More: How to Start a Zero Waste Community.
- Zone 12: Zero Waste Holidays. What better way to reduce your impact on the planet than by eschewing presents bought just to fill up the space under the tree? 5 Strategies for a Zero Waste Holidays with Your Family.