Going Waste Free
Posted on February 20 2020
About a million years ago (actually around this time last year - it just feels much longer) I became more interested in the movement towards zero-waste living. As a mom of a small child, I realized my home suddenly became inundated with plastic EVERYTHING - toys, packaging, craft supplies, clothing, dishes and utensils, you name it. And that realization made me aware of just how many OTHER single-use plastics there were around my home - toothpaste tubes, that produce bag that contained my brussels sprouts in the shopping cart, restaurant containers. Don't even get me started on the people who put their onions in a plastic bag - nature gave it perfectly good packaging for transport! The whole thing made me feel... guilty. That thing I was using for a few hours to a few weeks was going to be sitting in a landfill somewhere for the next thousand-plus.
I know I'm not the only one feeling the impending doom of plastic overload. We all know a good brand of reusable shopping bags, and I've even made some of my own over the years. Reusable water bottles are great and save money. But there must be something better. So I interviewed Kate Marnach, co-founder of Minnesota's first zero-waste market, Tare Market.
How would you define a waste-free lifestyle? (Are we talking zero-trash-production and composting? Do you consider recycling waste, since recycling programs vary greatly from one community to another?)
The technical definition of "zero waste" to most people is sending nothing (or as little as possible) to the landfill. So things like recycling, composting, reusing, repurposing, etc are very useful tools. However, I do encourage people not to use recycling as a crutch since it is a waste stream in its own right (lots of energy, water, resources used in process) and not every community has a broad recycling program. I and we (as Tare Market) also really consider things like energy use, water use, emission output, fair trade, resource use, etc when it comes to living my life and choosing vendors and products for our store. We want to do the best we can for our planet in every way, not just trash output.
Where are you currently on your waste-free journey?
I am over 2 years into "officially" living zero waste. I made several zero waste changes years before I even knew the term and I am still honing my skills, so it's definitely a marathon, not a sprint! I have 3 young children which presents its own unique challenges, from diapering and feeding babies, to navigating school rules and birthday parties with older kids. I constantly learn new tools and tricks and am working to teach my children to at least be aware of the waste they create as individuals. Nobody is perfect, we all have off days, and that's okay!
I personally get a bit overwhelmed when I think about waste-free living. But you make it look so easy! What are some simple tips on moving towards a waste-free lifestyle for the modern consumer?
Take it one step at a time! I definitely was guilty of jumping in head first, getting overwhelmed after awhile, and having to pull back. So we really stress to people to make one or two zero waste swaps at first, get used to doing those things so it's easier, and then pick one or two more changes to make. By going slowly and intentionally, it's easier to make these changes habit and they won't seem so difficult. We also stress not to sweat the small stuff, and if you have a day that you don't do something perfectly zero waste, that's okay. Just learn from it and keep going on your mission!
What do you want people to know about Tare Market if they've never been to your store?
We like to let people know that we are always available to answer any questions, and you don't have to be a zero waste expert to shop with us! We love guiding people and giving advice to people wanting to live more sustainably and waste-free.
Any other additional resources you'd suggest to people interested in a waste-free living?
Amber (Tare Market's other co-founder) and I both have blogs about zero waste. Amber's is zerowasted.net and mine (with a family focus) is zeroish.org. I also, personally, really enjoyed the documentaries "A Plastic Ocean", "Mission Blue", and "Plastic China" which provide some insight into why we do what we do.
From bamboo toothbrushes and utensil kits perfect for eating lunch on the go to a selection of waste-free bulk foods to classes on making the jump to zero-waste living with kids, Tare Market is the perfect place to jumpstart your waste-free living adventure. Thanks so much to Kate for taking the time to answer my questions!
TARE MARKET store is located at 2717 E. 38th Street Minneapolis, MN 55406
Or get inspired over on the Tare Market Instagram account.
Designer + Social Media Marketing Manager, Fair Indigo