"This is the trash that I personally invite into my life that I choose to throw away," Stevie Van Horn saya as she pulls out a medium size mason jar. "This is going on four years." Horn is a sustainability activist in Brooklyn where she leads a zero waste lifestyle, meaning she takes extreme steps to produce as little trash as possible in her day-to-day. We spent a day with her to see what it's like to navigate throughout the day without contributing to landfill waste.
Horn's lifestyle sounds difficult and time consuming, but according to her, "It's actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it." Almost everything in her home is second hand or vintage and she makes many of her lifestyle products herself, like shampoo and toothpaste. The latter made by mixing vegemite clay, coconut oil, and baking soda. "The same thing I use to wash my hair I use to clean the floors and I use to spray the sink and the toilet," she says.
When Horn leaves her home, she makes sure to carry a reusable cup, a tote bag, and a cloth produce bag.
Before she began her zero waste lifestyle almost four years ago, Horn says it took about two months to prep for the change, in which time she stocked up on materials like mason jars and cloth totes. At first she recalls a bit of difficulty adjusting, like forgetting her reusable utensils at home, but she's since gotten used to it. "I think it's a myth this lifestyle is expensive," she says. "I'm saving so much in supplies just by buying bulk. I'm not buying anything that's plastic wrapped and 15 percent of what we're spending is in the packaging."
Horn tells us that her choice to live sustainably has become part of her identity over time. "I've just gravitated towards this lifestyle and it's done so many things in my life that are positive," she says. "The identification is kind of together."