Student Blog: Isabel Montes

How many times a week do you take out the trash? How about none? Thesis student Isabel Montes shares her new video blog about zero waste lifestyle. 


The average person creates about four pounds of trash every day. That’s like tossing 45 million elephants into landfills each year. I have been fascinated by waste free living ever since I found out about Lauren Singer, founder of Package Free, and zero waste guru Bea Johnson, who lives zero waste along her husband and 2 kids. But I never thought this would be something I was capable of. I am a 22 years old student with no money, and more importantly, no idea where to start. I always thought a waste free lifestyle was for rich people with a ton of time on their hands, but on November 7th, 2017, I came home to three large plastic bags waiting for me in the foyer to be taken out to the trash. I thought to myself “I just took the trash out yesterday.”

I spent about four hours that night on my computer researching how to reduce waste. I made a spreadsheet of what I had to keep (medicine), what I could reduce (clothes & shopping), and what I was completely getting rid of (literally everything else). Then I started collecting alternatives to the plastic and single use products I used on a daily basis, and where I’d be able to find them in New York City.

And since then, this is all the trash I’ve accumulated in 3 months.

New Years Post (1)

3 months worth of trash

After a few weeks of successfully living this way, I realized I couldn’t find one place where all of the information on how to start lived – which meant that other people probably couldn’t either. And then I had an idea.

I silently worked for weeks and weeks, and then on New Years I announced my new 10-part video series called Trash Talk. In the series, I go through every single thing anyone could possibly encounter when starting to reduce their waste in a massive way. I would never tell anyone how to live their life, and I consider myself the average lazy person who wants to help but doesn’t know how, so I wouldn’t be living this way if it was difficult. Single use and plastic products are not the only choices people have to live their lives. People also have way more power than they think, for example, if no one bought Coca-Cola anymore because they came packaged in plastic, then maybe Coca-Cola would start selling their drinks in glass again. We can make an impact and show big business that there is a market in sustainability.

Since November 7th, I’ve started brushing my teeth with a bamboo toothbrush, washing my hair with bar soap, and asking for my coffee in a mason jar. I could go on and on and on about how I’ve transformed my life, and I will. So tune in to my youtube channel every Wednesday for a new Trash Talk episode where we will go zero waste shopping, travelling, cleaning, and so much more. Check out the premiere episode here!

Coffee Post (1)

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