The average person generates more than four pounds of trash every day and about one-and-a-half tons of solid waste per year. Yes, that includes you, me and your cousin too. And as the black buying power continues to increase (according to Nielsen it's currently $1.1 trillion), we have to be wiser with our spending power. 

The things we buy turn into waste and affect our footprint on the earth. All of the things we throw out to make room for the new end up in landfills in the US, in the ocean, or, if we’re in the city, you might have noticed remnants scattered along congested streets. Although this may not phase you, it does affect you. 

Our waste contributes to the onslaught of climate change with the emission of methane and other greenhouse gasses. Not to mention, it inhibits the Earth from being able to produce new raw materials in the future. Recycling is great, but what if we could eliminate some of our waste altogether?

I caught up with Anamarie Shreeves, founder of Fort Negrita, through which she not only advocates zero waste, self-reliance and regenerative energy and waste — she lives the lifestyle too. From being featured on CNN to speaking on college campuses and a host of eco-friendly events in-between, this Earth advocate is a trailblazer in the zero-waste movement. 

Tempted to eliminate some of the wasteful habits in your life? Shreeves will get you started with her “5 Bs to Zero Waste,” so that maybe you can take the challenge of going a day, a week and then maybe the rest of your life without waste. 


Be a Conscious Consumer

“Yes, we all heard that Target will be selling wine by the glass for shoppers," Shreeves said. "But is that really what you need in your life right now? Don't fall for the trap. "Two glasses in and that paisley-printed bulldog will appear to be a necessity. Yeah, right. Stop buying stuff or your kids (or someone else) will have to deal with an insane amount of crap when you die. And guess what? That paisley-printed bulldog is headed for the dump.”

Trends are great, but in a few years that “had to have” purchase will be just another memory you never revisit in the back of your closet. Buy smart and buy responsibly. If you haven’t seen The True Cost (now available on Netflix) yet, get hip.

Be Real

“Even before I started my zero-waste lifestyle, I stopped buying things made of fake materials," Shreeves said. "For the most part, that means plastics (anything with a "poly-" in front of the name). Much like many scoff at the 'other' Polo, I side-eye those plastic Family Dollar cooking utensils. Since making this decision, everything I've purchased has been made of natural materials including wood, steel, bamboo, cotton, hemp, copper, glass, ceramic, etc. “

Corporations are catching up with our environment’s needs for real, recyclable products. You’d be surprised the amount of things you can buy greenPlastics also tend to leach harmful chemicals, so it’s better for your body and your environment to just keep it real.  


“Three words. Bring Your Own," Shreeves said. "Why contribute to manufacture pollution, energy waste and landfills trash for a 30-minute lunch break? Every time you leave the house, carry a reusable cup, napkin and fork/spoon; nothing fancy. Use what you have in your cabinets. “

Bulk Up

“Not to be confused with Costco's 1000 rolls of toilet paper," Shreeves said. "But the bulk section of the grocery store is where you scoop your own dry goods into bags to be weighed at the cashier counter. Easily my favorite part of the grocery store. I can pack grains, nuts, oils, soaps and such into my own containers and jars. I get to leave the grocery store without packaging guilt.”

Many grocery stores have bulk bins for us eco-friendly folks nowadays and there’s an app to help you find which ones are in your area. AND you’ll be surprised what you can find online (recycle/reuse the packaging of course). Additional tips for buying in bulk can be found here.


“Something borrowed isn't just for weddings," Shreeves said. "Need a blow dryer for your birthday hair? Loan your homegirls (it's a birthday offering). Looking for a book? Visit the library. If you can't find what you’re looking for in your network of friends and family, try Freecycle, Craigslist or thrift shops.”

For some of you, these suggestions might be completely outside of your comfort zone. I know just over a year ago, the only bulk food I ever noticed in the grocery store was in the candy aisle. But if we are the generation that’s going to reverse climate change, uplift our communities and create a better tomorrow, we’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve got to at least try. So go a day without waste, I dare yo!  The 5Bs should make it easy.For more information on a zero-waste lifestyle, please visit Fort Negrita and follow her movement on social media, @Fort.Negrita.