The Zero Waste Girl

the zero waste garden

Spring has Sprung

It’s Spring! In order: a daffodil, field pea shoots, and hairy vetch.




Death in the Garden

In the midst of the winter doldrums, I went out with my camera and grabbed some shots that made me start rethinking the barren landscape. It’s a different kind of beautiful out there.














I’m Back!

I’m back!

…Well, no… not really. The posts will still be fairly sporadic and few and far between. I’m juggling two jobs, one ‘volunteer’ commitment, and a night class, and I just haven’t found myself motivated to publish here in awhile. There are probably a whole host of reasons, but one thing I’ve pinpointed is my reluctance to turn my life into a gimmick. It really does feel like trying to go “zero waste” is adhering to a philosophy at the expense of the realities of living.

That’s not to say I’m opposed to zero waste. Not at all! I’ve just been reconsidering the purpose of this blog. Despite what past posts might indicate, I’m actually pretty uncomfortable with documenting my own life for others to see. I love fashion but I’m never going to be a fashion icon; my kitchen has horrible light for recipe photos (and my camera really doesn’t like being dusted with flour); I love toxic makeup; and, well, I really don’t want to post any pictures of me. So, no lifestyle blog.

What I am interested in is exploring people and landscapes, highlighting the creative ways people save time and money, and looking at the “zero waste” (i.e., sustainable in the physical and mental sense) ways people build communities. Less me, more us!

With that in mind, check out the new web tie-in to Naomi Klein’s recently released book, “This Changes Everything.” Beautiful Solutions is where Klein and friends are “gathering the most promising and contagious strategies for building a just, democratic, and resilient world.”

What else? Doctors are prescribing outdoors time. Yup. Fresh air is cheaper than therapy.

This post looks at cooking for one with a minimum of waste.

Did you go to the People’s Climate March? I didn’t make it, but it looked incredible. I was at a local urban farmers market and festival, which was also really fun.

Until next time.

– C

Check this out:

Remember how I resolved to buy no new (non-thrifted) clothing this year? Well, I’ve kept to that resolution… except for when it comes to

I am in love.

Seamly, founded by Kristen Glenn and funded through a Kickstarter campaign, produces sustainable, made-in-the U.S. clothing.

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I don’t remember how I first heard about the company, but when I started flipping through the catalogue, I was immediately in trouble. Over the next few weeks, I haunted the Seamly site. My winter wish list included the Jenny dress, but eventually I settled on the Summer Cardigan. Was I ever glad I did.

The wrap is crazy comfortable, wrinkle free, and it has hidden pockets! It’s my favorite thing to throw on in the morning when I’m not sure what I want to wear. So far I’ve only worn it belted, and I’ve gotten compliments every day.

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I loved it so much I bought another. I do my laundry, wear the dresses immediately, and count down the days until I’ve worn enough other clothing to justify washing the dresses again. The clothes are expensive, but worth every penny. (I hate when people say that. What if I only have $12 and need two new shirts? But, really, these clothes are great). So far, neither dress has pilled, despite several washes. There are no snags, even though one cat has made it her mission to shred every skirt I own.

Oh, have you noticed my weird insecurity about posting photos of myself? Here you go.

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Hmm, you want one with my face?

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I promise, someday I’ll actually remember to ask friends to take pictures of me doing things relevant to this blog. In the meantime, here’s my cat skeptically observing the attempted Summer Cardigan Photo Shoot. The other cat is the clothes shredding culprit.


I’m curious, what do you think of Seamly? Their clothes are perfect for half of my lifestyle: furious typing at a computer, barhopping with friends, and impromptu interviews (throw on a blazer and I’m good to go). For farming, I wear clothes that are already ragged.

Kale Seeds

Midway through this past brutal winter, I saw what looked like a healthy kale plant emerging from under a cover of snow. Never mind the many days below freezing or the sleet — this plant, harvested in fall, managed to produce new leaves and survive one of the region’s harshest winters in recent memory. In awe of its hardiness, I let the plant grow through spring, flower, and go to seed.

Yesterday I gathered about half of the seed pods and shelled them. Below, see the process in pictures. I’m planning to plant the seeds this fall.






Have you ever saved seeds? I’ve never done it deliberately before, but every year I get “volunteer” pumpkins jumping out of the compost pile.

Around the Web

Two new jobs, whew. Hopefully I’ll get back into a pattern of regular posting. Until then, here are some interesting things I’ve found around the web.

I can't help but share my favorite sign of spring: fresh garden peas!

I can’t help but share my favorite sign of spring: fresh garden peas!

Maybe a slightly larger, cleaner bouquet...

Maybe a slightly larger, cleaner bouquet…

  • The new app Ripe Near Me shows where free, fresh produce is growing in your neighborhood.

The Sharing Economy

Sharing or selling, what’s the difference?

In a new piece on Medium, Susie Cagle explores the true impacts of the “sharing economy,” which in its current iteration looks more like “disaster capitalism,” she says, than a true effort at equity. Airbnb, Lyft, Ebay and other companies have made millions and billions providing platforms through which people can “share” what they no longer want or need…and profit.

Though the idea of using your excess resources to profit sounds great (more money!), “… sharing businesses aren’t just creating new income streams from nothing. In “disrupting” even troubled markets — the taxi industry has had this coming for a long time — the glory of the peer economy comes at the expense of other workers’ livelihoods,” Cagle writes.

“…The sharing economy doesn’t build trust — it trades on cultural homogeneity and established social networks both online and in real life. Where it builds new connections, it often replicates old patterns of privileged access for some, and denial for others.”

Some key quotes from the piece:

  • “The best performers in Airbnb are white women and the worst performers are black men. There’s an inherent difference in lived experience. We ignore people of color and low income people.” – Nikki Silvestri, Executive Director, Green for All
  • “Will this just be another expression of an extractive economy? There are some who will be able to share and others who won’t.” – Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
  • “They advertise you can earn “extra cash” – but the underlying issue is, why do you have to do this?” – Veena Dubal, labor researcher

So what is sharing, anyways? When you give, do you always expect something in return?


I need to head out to the garden I manage (as my newish part-time job), but instead of getting ready, I’m sitting on my bed with the fan blowing in my face and thinking big overwhelming thoughts about what it means to be a human in the world.

How exactly are we supposed to build community and be there for each other when our jobs force us to break down communities by mindlessly following the rules and acquiescing to our superiors?

The other night I cried at the kitchen table about writing and feeling like I’m letting my dream of a writing career slip away. I’ve been applying for writing jobs and internships for two years now, with mixed success. I’ve certainly been published in some great outlets, but none of the big names paid. I’ve been rejected for every journalism internship and job I’ve applied to, save one where I was interrogated about my past (and okay, current) as an activist in an impromptu 6 p.m. phone interview.

Let me be clear. My dream isn’t dying. I’m going through a rough patch, which was always to be expected. Still, I feel a little lost and adrift.

I’m frustrated with trying to find my way in a world where adults are simultaneously supportive and disparaging of us Millennials. We’re encouraged to pursue our dreams, but then if we do, we’re self-absorbed and not thinking about the future. We take on unpaid internships because that’s how we’re supposed to break into “careers,” only to find that all the entry-level jobs in our fields require 3-5 years paid, full-time experience. Oh, and we’re supposed to have opinions and be energetic and throw ourselves into creating change… except if we want to pay our bills, we have to shut up and fit ourselves into the existing bureaucracy. So yes, stand up for what’s “right,” but don’t, because then you won’t have a job (calling out the bureaucratic bullshit at any big nonprofit isn’t going to get you very far) or a livelihood or a future in the field that you chose…


I think it’s the onset of summer and the flood of new graduates into the job market that’s really making my head spin. I’m feeling incredibly small and worthless and insecure, conflicted about my love for stereotypical environmentalist hobbies and passions, frustrated with my intense introversion and the challenges it poses for journalism, and scared about ever being able to consistently support myself, never mind other humans. I’m terrified that the work I love (journalism, urban agriculture) is harming people more than helping. (Google “urban gardening problems” and you’ll find plenty of very important critiques of young white people deciding they’re going to transform communities). I’m terrified that to do the work I love, I’ll have to work for groups I don’t support and think are harmful – big box stores, for example, or chain restaurants crowding out local businesses. And also, to an extent, huge non-profits.

The nice thing about having a blog is that I can explore these ideas, and sometimes people actually read and comment on them. So instead of silly, half-assed posts, I’m going to publish things I actually think have some value and importance. It’s what drives me to write, after all. Forgive me if not everything follows the “zero waste” theme. I created it when I was told that I needed a brand to succeed as a writer, and since I do have readers here I don’t want to switch to another website and I also really can’t afford to purchase another domain name. Plus, I like a lot of the ideas that zero waste conveys.

Anyways, I really do need to get ready for work. As always, please post your thoughts in the comments. At some point I’d like to start posting guest blogs. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to write, or something you’re working on you’d like to see featured.

– C


Tutorial: Re-grow Your Herbs Indoors

Spring has sprung and the garden is clearly growing, but many herbs haven’t quite gotten themselves into gear. If you’re hoping for a more bountiful harvest, want to fill in some garden space, or would just like more greenery in your home, this how-to is for you. Bonus: you’ll never have to buy herbs from the grocery store again.

Though most herbs will regrow from cut stems, I’m using sage, mint, and oregano for this tutorial.

Step 1: Cut a handful of stems from a healthy, established herb plant, leaving enough length to place in a vase or glass with a few leaves left above water. You can buy an herb plant a local nursery if there aren’t any growing in your yard.


Step 2: Using scissors, cut all but the topmost leaves off the plant, leaving the stems bare. Definitely make sure you use scissors and not your hands – you’ll be less likely to damage the stem. I started off with my hands and broke a couple of oregano branches before I figured things out.


Step 3: Place the plants in a vase filled with water and wait for them to root. You should see snaky tendrils (the new root system) in a few days! Finally, plant them up to the leaves in garden soil and water regularly for the first few weeks until the new plants are established.


Remember the leaves we discarded when stripping the stems? Now’s the time to rinse and eat. Here’s a meal you can make with fresh mint, oregano, and sage.

side: Sautéed Baby Bella Mushrooms with Sage

main: Pizza with fresh oregano

– drink: Mojitos!

Announcing a Revamp

In the spirit of making this blog more useful and informative, I’m creating new categories of posts. Read on below to see how the blog’s topics will be transformed.

What’s Cooking?


All things food, including zero waste recipes, ways to reuse kitchen scraps, and time saving ideas for the kitchen.

Around the Web

A revamped Friday Five, “Around the Web” will look at environmental and social sustainability initiatives as they appear online. I’ll also curate ethical living ideas from various websites.

The Edible Yard


Watch as I transform my small townhouse’s grassy spaces into places of food production.

Zero Waste Fashion

Exploring the world of ethical fashion and beauty – easy ways to stay on-trend, good, and green.


DIY cleaning products, creative projects, and more.

Zero Waste Inspiration

A catch-all for the amazing and innovative things real people are doing! (Want to be featured? Know a friend? Email


What’s a blog without a silly category? “Lightbulbs” are posts like “Doubts” and “Urban Gardens” – analysis and musings that don’t quite fit in any of the other categories.

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