Local woman encourages others to live ‘Zero Waste’

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The average American throw away more than four pounds of trash every day. One woman found a way to cut most of that trash out completely.

A 2018 study by U.S. PIRG Education Fund found the highest number of items thrown away, 29.7 percent is packaging and containers, 20.4 percent were durable goods like furniture and appliances.

Polly Barks wanted to find a way to create less waste. She came across the concept of zero waste, but says it was a lot more difficult than she thought it would be. She runs a business called Green Indy where she blogs about her experiences and teaches others how to live a zero-waste lifestyle.

“I realized that trash didn’t go away it just went somewhere else, so I was really struggling with what to do and I came across this idea of zero waste online and it really spoke to me,” Barks said.

Barks and her husband only throw away one grocery sized bag of trash every seven to eight weeks.

“Some of the first steps of zero waste kind of the easy ones is to get rid of the use of single-use plastics, stop using single-use plastics which are the plastic bags at the store, the plastic produce store, if you go out to eat don’t use a plastic fork,” Barks said.

She recommends grocery stores that let you fill your own containers like Good Earth Natural Food Co. in Broad Ripple.

“We will load it up for them at no charge and usually it helps save us paper as well, so we always encourage customers if they have their own bag to bring it in,” cashier Aron McNicholas said.

Many find it tough when almost everything you think of has packaging.

“There’s not a lot we can do when we try, products that have a lot of wrapping that’s my biggest concern right now,” Jackie Garvey said.

Barks says start with the bathroom and kitchen and see what products you can switch out. She says the lifestyle will save people thousands of dollars in the long-run.

“You’re buying less so you have more money to buy the things you really need, or you know to save it so zero waste can definitely save money,” Barks said.