Author of zero waste blog Litterless, Celia Ristow is more than qualified to speak about the growing waste crisis we're facing as a planet. Her practical approach to living a greener life has attracted thousands of fans, and inspired many millennials (myself included) to throw out less and get composting. Given her credentials, we're super excited to have Celia involved in our 35 under 35 changemakers of 2018 initiative, judging the zero waste category.
How long have you been working within the zero waste field for?
I’ve worked in the zero waste field for three years now.
Why do you feel so passionately about advocating zero waste initiatives and lifestyles?
It’s on all of us to take some form of environmental action. Many environmental actions are expensive, daunting, or time-consuming; trading in one’s car for a hybrid, installing solar panels, advocating for better public transportation, and other steps, while laudable and important, can require a large investment of time and money.
What I love about zero waste is that the barrier to entry is much lower. It's all about taking simple, small steps on a daily basis, which means that it's possible to ease into it.
I love that it’s a more accessible way for folks to incorporate sustainability into their day-to-day lives.
Is there a particular zero waste cause you feel especially passionate about and why?
In my work, I try to champion composting as often as I can. Many folks don’t realize this, but when you throw food in the trash and it goes to the landfill, it can’t decompose in a natural way; instead, since landfills don’t have circulating oxygen, decomposing food produces large amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that’s about 23 times more potent than CO2.
When you compost food - keeping it out of the landfill to let it decompose back into soil, naturally - that greenhouse gas load is drastically reduced, and you get new, rich soil to boot. It's an important addition to our normal routines of recycling.
Why are young people so important for the future of zero waste?
There are many reasons, but I keep coming back to this: young people are optimistic enough to imagine a better world, and conscientious enough to work toward it. Plus, zero waste requires us to change our daily habits of living and keeping a house; when we’re young, these habits can feel quite malleable and it’s easy to incorporate zero waste principles in from the get-go.
How have you seen young people change and shape laws and thinking around zero waste?
I think a huge realisation that’s happened over the last decade is that while we wait and work towards better government action on climate change – that targets polluters, oil companies, and industrial emissions – we can also push for smaller, local laws that can still have a huge impact. When citizens step up at a local level and demand changes like plastic bag surcharges, mandatory municipal composting, and increased education around recycling, they can have a huge impact on the ability of residents in their area to live lower-waste lives.
What attracted you to being involved with six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative?
Celebrating everyday heroes of the zero waste movement and highlighting their businesses inspires me, and I hope that it inspires others, too.
What credentials were you looking for in the nominees you selected?
I looked for folks doing things that are truly innovative. These women have re-imagined what a sustainable business can look like and integrated that into their practices from the beginning.
Whether creating a truly new type of store like Brittney's Refill Revolution, or working to up-cycle the waste from the juicing industry into a new product like Chloe, the women I nominated are defining a new road map for zero waste businesses.
To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, head here.