A Look Inside Atlanta’s Growing Zero-Waste Community

First, the bad news: When it comes to trash, the average American reportedly produces more than 4 pounds of it per day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 220 million tons of waste, more than half of which ends up in one of more than 3,500 landfills across the country. Now, the good news: An eco-conscious movement is actively working to reduce that number — it’s called “zero waste,” and it’s taken root in Atlanta.

The zero-waste philosophy revolves around slashing waste production through recycling, composting, buying in bulk and buying secondhand, so that eventually practitioners are producing nearly no trash at all. The movement isn’t exactly new, but it has grown through platforms like blogging and social media — searching “zero waste blogger” on Google or Instagram produces thousands of results from around the globe. The private “Zero Waste in Atlanta” Facebook group includes more than 40 locals swapping advice, tips and other tricks for eliminating waste in daily life.

One of the members, Anamarie Shreeves, is a pioneer of the movement locally. An arts advocate, freelance consultant, program coordinator and communications expert, Shreeves holds zero-waste workshops at places like Sevananda and Hodge Podge Coffee House, as well as offices and universities.

She also runs the blog Fort Negrita, where she posts about everything from whether or not she uses toilet paper (she does) to making her own toothpaste, body butter, mascara and shampoo. Shreeves launched her blog in 2013 to chronicle her journey to living a more sustainable life. “[I shop] in two sections of the grocery store, the bulk section and the produce section — I’m buying food without any packaging on them,” she said.

Shreeves brings her own bags and mason jars to fill with her produce and dry goods. She buys all of her clothes secondhand (though she tries not to do much clothes shopping), and at concerts and festivals, she brings her own cup when she goes out.
Her waste level: Fitting eight months of trash into a mason jar.

Clean Business Model

Some have adopted the practices in more than personal ways. Karen Glass, a fashion designer with more than 40 years of experience at fashion houses in New York and Paris, found the zero-waste community out of necessity.

She started infusing the practices into her life (without even realizing it) while building and maintaining a small organic farm in Florida. When she moved to Atlanta a few years ago and settled at The Goat Farm Arts Center, she decided to meld her love of sustainability with her career in fashion to embark on her own clothing line, zerøwaste, which launched in late 2016.

To read the full story, visit http://news.wabe.org/post/look-inside-atlanta-s-growing-zero-waste-community.