Meet 3 Women Who Prove Living Sustainably Is Easier Than You Think

"When most people hear about a zero-waste lifestyle, they automatically assume it's expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. It's none of those things," says Kathryn Kellogg, a Bay Area local whose passion project, Going Zero Waste, teaches others how to make sustainable lifestyle choices by cutting out unnecessary waste. It may sound intimidating, but introducing eco-friendly habits into your everyday routine isn't as overwhelming as it seems. In fact, some of the easy changes you'll read about ahead are not only free, but they'll likely take less than a second of your time to put into practice.
In the spirit of Earth Day, which stands to remind us how precious Earth's resources truly are, we want to help inspire positive change and demystify what it really means to live sustainably. So we spoke with three women who preach green lifestyles in their personal and professional lives. In addition to Kellogg, we also met with sisters Theresa and Corinna Williams, who founded an eco-friendly laundromat in Brooklyn called Celsious. Styled in H&M's latest Conscious Exclusive collection (which is produced from recycled fibers), the gals revealed the rather simple ways we can all live a cleaner, greener life. From skipping disposable coffee cups to inspecting clothing labels before you purchase, the tiny tweaks recommended by our pros can make a world of difference in the long run. Start now, and the planet will thank you.
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“Welcome to MyIdentity. The road to owning your identity is rarely easy. In this yearlong program, we will celebrate that journey and explore how the choices we make on the outside reflect what we’re feeling on the inside — and the important role fashion and beauty play in helping people find and express who they are.”
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On Corinna: H&M top, dress, shoes, earrings. On Theresa: H&M top, earrings, skirt, shoes.
Theresa & Corinna Williams, C0founders Of Celsious

What first sparked your interest in sustainable living and the environment? Theresa Williams: "Growing up in Germany, our mother strived to create a healthy, toxin-free environment for us, so Corinna and I have never really known anything else. From eating local and organic food to using only natural, minimally processed products for skin care and beauty, we’ve been imparted with a strong compass on searching out quality over quantity and taking into account the environmental and social impact of our choices as consumers."

How did laundry become your entry point into the eco-friendly business world?
TW:"Celsious is my sister Corinna’s brainchild. When she moved to NYC from Germany for a job about five years ago, she was extremely unsatisfied with the experience at her local laundromat. Being a trained product designer, I joined her four years ago to bring her vision of a serene yet friendly laundromat to life. Since environmentally conscious living is such an integral part of our lives, it was never a question that this would become one of the most important pillars of Celsious."

In what ways is Celsious environmentally conscious?
TW: "We invested in the most energy-efficient professional laundry equipment on the market, which not only delivers water, gas, and time savings, but which also offers nontoxic alternatives to incredibly harmful products like fabric softener and dryer sheets. For our café, we source organic products from other local small businesses and have nearly reached our goal of running a zero-waste operation."
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Laundry can feel like such a chore, especially in New York where many don't have a washer and dryer in their homes. What have you done to make that experience more fun?
TW: "We created a relaxing atmosphere — with lots of plants and natural light and ample seating in the café area. Eliminating all the stressors that you might find in other laundromats, like dirty or nonfunctioning equipment, harsh lighting, and blaring TVs, and adding in a bunch of perks, like free three-ingredient detergent, really transforms the experience for our customers."

Aside from cleaning, are there any other areas of your life where you practice living sustainably?
Corinna Williams: "Theresa and I did a complete clean beauty swap about two years ago, where we stopped purchasing cosmetics altogether and started making our own. For our closets, we did a KonMari-esque clean sweep, keeping items that 'spark joy' only. Everything that doesn't goes into our refashionNYC bin at Celsious. We thoroughly examine the origin and material of all new things we purchase. Keeping clothes out of landfills by recycling and reusing them is the most sustainable way of getting dressed. We also try to avoid buying anything pre-packaged in plastic."

What's a small lifestyle change readers could make to start living more sustainably right now?
CW: "One small and very simple lifestyle change that really goes a long way is ditching the disposable cup (and/or plastic lid and/or plastic straw) during your morning coffee run. Every minute, more than 1 million disposable cups are discarded to landfill. Cafés like our Celsious Clean Café or Van Leeuwen offer discounts ($0.50) on your drink if you bring your own cup. Need a straw? Try reusable stainless-steel ones. We’ve also been dying to try Loli Straws, which are made from edible seaweed."
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Kathryn Kellogg, Founder Of Going Zero Waste

Did you have a specific experience that led you towards sustainable living?
"It was honestly very selfish. I started my journey after a breast-cancer scare. My hormones were unbalanced, and I was trying to heal my body. I was paying a lot more attention to the food I was eating, my beauty products, cleaning products, and even plastic around my food. Then when I moved to California, I saw the litter problem was out of control. Plastic and trash lined the streets, and I learned about the Great Pacific garbage patch and how 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year. It solidified my commitment to cut plastic from my life."

What's been most challenging in creating zero waste?
"Let's get real on the word zero. Zero is a goal; no one, unless you're living in a cabin in the woods completely off grid and foraging your own food, is creating zero waste. Living a zero-waste lifestyle is about reframing our thinking. It's a call for manufacturers to redesign their products without the landfill in mind and to find innovative solutions for their products to be resumed back into the production process without having to use new resources."

Are there any misconceptions about zero waste you want to debunk or correct? "Living a zero-waste lifestyle is not radical — is it really that crazy to bring your own thermos to get coffee when you're out? Is cleaning a spill with a dish towel instead of a paper towel revolutionary? Most people lived this way up until the '70s. It's all about building habits. Once you have the habits in place, you don't realize you're doing anything differently."
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Does your family also practice a zero-waste lifestyle?
"We do. It's my husband, myself, and our pet dog Nala in our tiny home in sunny California. And, yes, we both have full-time jobs!"

What is the first step someone could take to shift to a zero-waste lifestyle?
"I always recommend everyone start with the big four: 1) Say no to single-use plastic straws. 2) Bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. Don't forget the produce bags, too! (Most produce doesn't even need a bag. Leave it naked.) 3) Bring a full water bottle with you when you leave your house. Phone, wallet, water, keys — good to go. 4) Say no to take-away coffee cups by bringing your own, or ask for your coffee to stay in a real mug."

What other lifestyle changes should readers make to cut waste?
"Other than the big four, my recommendations are to buy less and compost. Composting is one of the best things you can do for the environment."
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