Through out our journey with brining Up-fuse to life, one of the significant individuals we’ve met that has inspired us was Christine Liu. A young Packaging Design Graduate, who is surprisingly leading a “packageless” (or a Zero Waste Lifestyle) through her blog “Snapshots of Simplicity”.
We have first met Christine, two years ago in Hamburg, being part of The Do School’s fellowship Program. Gathering 24 fellows from all around the world, The Do School was were most of our ideas nourished and began the journey of being exposed to life.
Luckily, last April, I got to meet Christine again in San Francisco, and we got to share where our journeys have taken us ever since we’ve left the Do School. And I got to hear all about her accomplishments, success, and even doubts ever since she started her zero waste lifestyle.
Read our fruitful interview below to find out more:
1. What is the definition of zero waste lifestyle in your own opinion?
The zero waste lifestyle has no clear definition — it begins with an individual’s basic understanding that there is an unhealthy amount of waste and trash in our current society, and may lead that individual to reduce their consumer facing waste. However for my personal journey, zero waste living also included aspects of minimalism to simplify the things I needed, conscious consumerism, a desire to drive community change, and hunger to learn more about what it truly means to live sustainably.
2. What made you decide to have a zero waste lifestyle?
My zero waste journey began after I had graduated with a degree in packaging and manufacturing at university. After observing the huge disconnect our society had with the everyday things we produced and consumed, I could not help but feel that something was not right — especially after seeing the negative health and environmental effects of plastic packaging, and learning that Americans make up 5% of the world’s population and produce about 40% of the world’s waste. I could not help but want to do something regarding my own waste generation, so began to cut down on my plastic consumption, food packaging, and eventually all the products I consumed, looking for more waste-free, sustainable alternatives.
3. What has been your greatest challenge going through this journey?
Going against the status quo. Living a zero waste lifestyle goes against the norm, and it can be quite intimidating to put yourself in a place that is a bit out of the ordinary — I would often wonder if I would become a burden to people for having to ask them to do something a bit different on behalf of my waste-free lifestyle. At first, people would look at me funny, or wonder why I would bring my own containers, but in time, I noticed that people were quite supportive after I would explain why I wanted something in my own container, etc. I’ve learned that if you explain, are kind, understanding, and put on a smile, most people are more willing to oblige (:
4. Has anyone been unsupportive while you trying to change your lifestyle? / or have you had any criticism from anyone?
Very few people have been critical of my lifestyle, but some argue that a single person cannot make an impactful difference in our already waste-filled world.
In light of those criticisms, I do believe that by taking tangible actions to reduce my waste, I have been able to inspire people of how they can practically ‘save the environment,’ and have personally witnessed how my inner circle, workspace, and community are now more aware and inspired about the concept of zero waste living. It’s always a joy to see someone show me their reusable water bottle, or get a text message from a friend who is celebrating a ‘zero waste action’ he or she completed — small steps by each individual, I believe, will create a huge win.
5. What is your greatest achievement so far?
Being able to align my passion for zero-waste living with my full time job at a corporation. Who knew that a ‘packaging girl gone packageless,’ then zero waste, would be able to share her story with others at her company, and within a year, land a job on the packaging team to drive waste-reduction/sustainability initiatives! I’m learning so much at my current role, understanding the hurdles and realities of sustainability within the business world, and hope I will be able to celebrate some wins in the future as I work to drive as much innovation as possible to make my company more sustainable and waste-conscious.
6. What do you think are the best ways/best initial steps to start a zero waste lifestyle?
1. Ask yourself if you’re really up for it — having a personal conviction, and knowing how the issue of waste generation relates to you and your local community will be a key driver as you begin your journey. It’s much more empowering to ‘align your values with your actions’ than to do something simply for the sake of a trend.
2. Prepare yourself mentally, and be patient with yourself! It can be intimidating to produce ‘zero’ trash, but the change doesn’t happen overnight. It took me six months to reduce and simplify my lifestyle to what it currently is, but I still have a ways to go.
3. Plug into a zero waste community where you can share ideas and get support. Whether this is a local meetup group or on social media, having people to help you navigate this new way of living is critical to your success.
There are so many ways we can contribute to conserve our environment and society, even by starting with very simple and basic things like how Christine did. Here’s a blog she wrote about taking initial steps to start a Zero Waste Lifestyle (and there are plenty of other people talking about same experiences too)
PS: Check out Christine’s blog post about Up-fuse here