Hello! My name is Ashley and I am a 23 year old graduate from Chico State University with a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics. I have a huge passion for plant-based eating and the zero waste lifestyle. I also love the outdoors and try to get in some exercise by going on nature walks, hiking, biking, and doing yoga. I have always had an interest in sustainability, but never took the time to grow that passion of mine in college. However, once I graduated, I was able to get a job working as a Zero Waste Program Coordinator for Cal Poly, SLO. It was through this job that I realized my passion for the zero waste lifestyle, which eventually led me to start my own blog, Scout Eats - a site dedicated to helping others live a more sustainable lifestyle through plant-based recipes and zero waste tips!
Whenever someone asks me what made me want to eat a fully plant-based diet, I always tell them the same thing: I started it for health reasons, but stick with it for environmental reasons. My passion for sustainability has always been a major driving force for many of my life choices, but it wasn’t until I got a job as a zero waste coordinator that I realized there was so much more I could be doing to lessen my environmental impact. One of the most fascinating concepts I learned about through my job was the idea of a linear economy vs. circular economy. A linear economy is when a material is produced, used, and then eventually thrown “away.” A circular economy is when materials never see the landfill, because they are either reused, recycled, or brought back into the earth through composting.
I was able to see firsthand how many of these processes worked and was so amazed by what I learned. For instance, did you know that recycling plastic isn’t truly zero waste? Although it’s a great step, plastic can only be recycled a finite number of times (around 5-7), before it has to be sent to the landfill. Metal and aluminum, on the other hand, can be recycled an infinite number of times! This piece of information is great news for people and businesses that are using these kinds of materials - it truly is one of the most sustainable options. For the average person, however, one of the easiest and most impactful ways we can reduce our waste is to stop it at the source. This can be done numerous ways, but one of the most impactful is to carry an on-the-go “zero waste kit.”
This kit can include things like:
- Reusable water bottle and/or coffee cup
- Reusable utensils
- Metal/bamboo straw with cleaner
- Reusable bag
Coffee cups, plastic utensils, and straws are all landfill items, so having an alternative option can make such a huge difference. I almost always carry these reusable items with me. To make it more likely for you to use reusable items, place them in a convenient, easy-to-remember location such as your desk at work, in your backpack/bag, or in your car! Perhaps one of the most important messages to remember is that no one practicing a low waste lifestyle is perfect and it also looks different for everyone. As Anne-Marie Bonneau so beautifully puts it: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions doing it imperfectly.”
Keep in touch with Ashley on Instagram at @scouteats!