October 29, 2014

I'm Launching a Company and Need Your Help!

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect Trash is for Tossers to turn into a career, but in a strange way it has. The recipes for my cleaning products, the ones that I have been writing about over the past two years, have been in high demand. The problem is, many of my readers have been asking me where they can buy the products that are as pure as the ones that I post about for Trash is for Tossers since they don't have the time to make them themselves. As a result of this demand, today I am launching the Kickstarter campaign for my new company, The Simply Co.

This is not just any company. It will be Zero Waste, plastic free, and will incorporate- from day one- all of the standards and values that I hold myself to living a sustainable and trash free life.

The Simply Co.'s first product, and the one I am trying to fund on Kickstarter, is a laundry detergent unlike any other product on the market. My detergent is handmade, organic, vegan, and contains only THREE ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap.

PEOPLE: there are over 85,000 industrial chemicals in existence and did you know that cleaning product manufacturers aren't legally required to disclose their ingredients on their packaging, so we have absofuckinglutely NO idea what we are exposing ourselves or the environment to when we use them!? This is NOT OKAY. So i'm trying to do something about it.

The problem is that this company doesn't exist yet. My Kickstarter launches today and I need to raise $10,000 over the next 30 days in order to start producing a truly good cleaning product. The ones that  I trust in my own home, the ones I make myself.

So I need your help. Let's make this company a reality and create the most pure cleaning product company ever! How can you help? Please head to my Kickstarter and at the very least share my campaign on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If you can, pre-order a box of detergent and help me reach my goal of $10K. This is my dream, the is the future of cleaning, and this is the future of the planet. Let's do this!!!

October 3, 2014

The Piece Project: Part One.

Daniel Silverstein and I met five months ago in May when he let me wear clothing from his collection for my 23rd birthday weekend. As many of you know, I don’t buy new clothes, so what I borrowed from Daniel’s showroom was not just any clothing, it was Zero Waste clothing.

"Textile pollution is a growing problem in the fashion industry.  An average of 10-15 percent of the fabric used to make every garment is thrown away; a sobering statistic given the millions of garments produced every year...Daniel is passionately committed to keeping fabric waste to a minimum with every collection he makes. Using a unique draping technique, Daniel keeps fabric waste close to zero. “Spine” details and special embellishments wrap around the body to use the full yardage of fabric put into each piece."  
In his own words… "I just left a meeting where I wanted to have garments cut out, and the factory owner could not understand why I would save my fabric scraps. She also did not understand why they were artfully laid out to be appliqu├ęd on to the dresses after the pieces had been cut. She told me she pays more than $500 per month to have her scraps removed and thrown into landfills because her business is so wasteful. This is not the only factory in the Garment District creating waste like this, and this is not only an acceptable practice to the industry, THIS IS THE ONLY practice.'"
I read this right before I met Daniel and was flabbergasted. I knew fast fashion was bad, but 10-15 percent thrown away!? 

This idea of waste in the fashion industry had never been more apparent to me until last night when I was walking home from dinner and I saw a giant pile of trash in front of JCrew in Soho. Upon closer inspection I realized that the pile wasn’t trash at all. It was a massive mound of clothing. Perfectly good clothing (hats, shoes, bags, shirts, jeans!) ready for the taking… I thought. When my friends and I looked at the pile, all of the items had been mutilated and slashed so no one would take them. Perfectly good clothing destroyed so no one could have it for free. THAT PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH. Not just because I wanted free clothing, but because people intentionally destroyed something that was totally good, completely usable, and then cut it up into pieces so no one else could use it. Fast fashion is OUT OF CONTROL. I now see it, Daniel has known it for a while, and we’re fed up. The amazing thing about Daniel is that he's doing something about it.
Enter The Piece Project, a collection created from rolls and pieces of fabric that Daniel didn’t use in his prior collections (example: ends of rolls of fabric), but he saved them. Reflecting upon these pieces, he saw an opportunity and a huge challenge to create something incredible from what every other designer out there would have seen as trash.
Daniel and I definitely agree on something – you can have strong ethics, live a sustainable life, be Zero Waste, and not sacrifice style. One of my favorite things ever is that when people meet me, they expect me to LOOK like I lived in the woods for 23 years. They say “I would never know that you live this lifestyle by looking at you.” Well, HELLO, I live in NYC, and let me preface that I’m obviously cool with people that live this way – but what did you expect, dreads and a knapsack filled with all of my worldly possessions? No. That’s just not me.

So Daniel invited me to model in the campaign for The PieceProject, which was the most flattering thing in the world and I am so excited to show you the entire collection which will be released in a series over the next month. Since he is using pieces from rolls of his prior collections, the items are being released in very limited quantities, which means that once they are sold out, they are sold out and there will not be any more. Which is awesome because lemme tell ya what, with 13.1 millions tons of textile waste produced by the fashion industry in the USA last year, I'm pretty happy that Daniel exists.

September 25, 2014

Turn Me On.

Let's talk about sex. 

I have never written about sex before on Trash is for Tossers because it is one of those subjects that people get all weird about which is funny because one of the first questions people ask me is "how do you have sex if you live a Zero Waste life?" A question that I have shamefully, but successfully, ignored for a while now because I didn't want to divulge my entire sex life on the internet, but whatever, I talk about everything else, why not sex? 

The truth is I am a single and ready to mingle 23 year old girl living in Brooklyn. Long story short, I have sex. But…. I do not have Zero Waste sex. When I sleep with someone, it produces waste. Why? Because I use protection. 

(((#^!^^#@ BOOM!!!!*@%#^&*))) That was the world exploding. 

So, there. I have been leaving out a critical component of my waste for almost two years now. I use contraception and I throw it all in the trash when I am done because, let's be real, I definitely don't save condoms in my mason jar of trash. Weird memento, anyone?

I use condoms. Sex makes trash. But I DEFINITELY want to protect myself. Yet with so many options: birth control, IUD, condoms, dental dams and a slew of other thangs, it seems really hard to choose the best option. The fact of the matter is I don't want an IUD, no thank you to a copper sculpture of ovaries in my ovaries, and I don't want a pill playing battleship with my hormones, so no birth control. I want my contraception to have as little physical impact on me as possible- and so that leaves me with condoms. On top of that it's really difficult to know where sustainability comes into play because it's not really a selling point when you are trying to avoid getting pregnant or contracting STD's. Girl says to guy at pharmacy "Excuse me, is it possible to save the rainforest while also staving off chlamydia?"

But here's where it gets interesting. Until recently, I had never purchased a condom myself. I had always expected the guy I was with to have one, and if he didn't… we didn't. And i'm not alone. Only 40% of all condoms in the US are purchased by women. Then I started seeing these brands thrown around, Sir Richards, L Condoms, Sustain, and something clicked and I realized that not all contraception is created equal and I became really curious. Is it even possible to be conscious consumers when it comes to our sex lives? The answer is yes. We can. The choices that we make, or don't make, when it comes to sex have real impacts on both our bodies and the planet.

To learn more about sustainability in mah sex life, I interviewed Meika Hollender, the super cool Co-Founder and Marketing Director of what I see to be the most sustainable option out there, Sustain Condoms.
Tell me a little about sustain – how did it start, what was the idea?

Our family has a deep history in natural products with Seventh Generation, and I was always involved in different ways with that business, but never worked there full time. Jeffrey Hollender, my dad and boss, had an idea for a sustainable condom about ten years ago and never pursued it because he was running Seventh Generation.

A little over two years ago I was in business school and knew I didn’t want to work in traditional marketing anymore. At the same time, Jeff was starting to write the business plan for what became Sustain and was sort of consulting me on the business plan, and I became more interested in Sustain. Then we started talking more about what it would be like if I started the company with him, what that would look like… and as he began deciding that he was going to market to women and I started reading more about the statistics around reproductive health, how low condom usage rates are among my peers, and just the general need and lack of access that so many women in the US have to reproductive health services, I became more and more passionate about having a larger role in sustain.

Once I knew that I really wanted to start the business with him, the only sort of thing that we had to figure out was from a family business management standpoint: how it was going to affect our relationship. So that was a much harder thing to figure out, to decide, but ultimately, it just felt right.

How is it working with your father?

Its been amazing. It has been inspiring, it has been trying, it has been been a lot of growth for both of us. For me, he is my dad, also my boss, also my business partner. There are a lot of different relationships and dynamics but the amazing thing about working together is that we are coming at the business from two different perspectives. I’m our target market, I have grown up in the digital era, and I know how brands communicate today. He has this wealth of knowledge around sustainability, supply chain, operations, corporate responsibility, and is just a really successful business man. He knows what he’s doing and I think our combined insights and outlooks have really benefited us so far.

Sex was never really something I talked openly about with my dad. Why do you think “the talk” is so difficult for kids and parents?

I think a lot of it is on the parents. I read a really interesting article a couple of weeks ago about sex positive parenting and I think that it starts with the parents, and especially for me, my parents always made themselves totally open to talking to us about boys, and girls, and relationships. Not getting into extreme detail, but they were always like, “how’s it going?”, “are you going on a date?" They were just always open to the situation. Also, my mom and dad were very much like, “whenever you are thinking about having sex, if you are comfortable, please come to us, we want to help you, protect yourself, and be safe about it”. So my dad was the one I went to when I was thinking about having sex, and I just told him. It wasn’t a long conversation because we had covered a lot of the bases before, about the options and making sure it was the right person.

“The talk” has been something for us, in our father-daughter condom business duo, that we are really passionate about: making parents create an environment so that kids want to have those conversations with them and so that they feel comfortable. I think the idea of trying to shield your kids from sex and sexuality is impossible today because of the Internet, but also it is sending the wrong message. It’s making something that is natural, that is part of life, part of your health, part of your happiness, feel dangerous and taboo.

I think that is where a lot of the issues around women not using condoms, and not talking about condoms, comes from and it really fuels that taboo around sex and contraception in general. Especially our generation is putting themselves at risk because we’re not using condoms consistently. Only 19% of single women use condoms regularly and that’s terrible. STD’s are on the rise, AIDS is on the rise in certain communities, but I think it is really the parent’s responsibility to create that safe environment.

Sex is never something that I wrote about on Trash is for Tossers before, but something that I have been asked about a lot. “How do you have Zero Waste sex?” Truthfully there is no Zero Waste way to have sex without foregoing a condom or protection altogether. All methods of contraception produce waste of some sort, so what options do people have when it comes to safe but sustainable sex?

What a lot of people don’t really know is that latex condoms are a natural resource. It is a sustainable resource. Latex is the sap of rubber trees. So you are starting with a pretty sustainable product because, unlike a lot of other products that come from trees, you are not harming the tree in any way when you are tapping the sap (no pun intended), which is the latex. 

Our condoms are sustainable for many reasons but first is they are latex, they are a natural resource. They come from the only fair trade certified plantation in the world that makes latex for condoms, which is in southern India. 

There is actually a pretty terrible and sort of dirty history about the rubber industry that a lot of people don’t know about, and it still exists today. There is a ton of child labor, really bad working conditions, and we, Jeffrey especially because this is what he is so passionate about, had read so much around and about the history of the rubber industry that it was his mission to find a fair trade certified plantation. Our plantation is also FSC certified. It is a really amazing place and 100% of the workers children are in school, everyone has free health care. It’s really a nice place and different from what you will find in most of the rubber industry.

Then, other than where our product is coming from, there is our manufacturer, which is also in southern India. The workers are unionized, it’s light, it’s cool. I spent 10 days there in June. It’s a really nice place and not what you would expect from a traditional Indian manufacturing facility. On top of that, we also discovered, and there is a German study on this and hopefully a US study published soon, that shows that condoms contain high levels of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens. So we were extremely adamant about having no detectable levels of nitrosamines in our condoms. 

Nitrosamines are not something that you add to rubber. They occur naturally in the manufacturing process when the latex is being heated and molded. But you can add something to the process to prevent the nitrosamines from occurring in the latex. 

The FSC actually does regulate nitrosamines in pacifiers. The way they are exposed to the body are through heat and moisture, so for instance during sex. So we added, and it’s extremely inexpensive to do this, a safe chemical during the manufacturing process to prevent the nitrosamines from occurring.  To the best of our knowledge, we are the only nitrosamine-free condom on the market. We also don’t add spermicide or anything else toxic. No dyes, no fragrances. There is also an odor masker that a lot of condoms use, because the smell of latex isn’t amazing, so a lot of products use an odor masker chemical that is somewhat toxic, but we don’t. Then there are the other aspects of our business that we feel make us sustainable from a responsibility standpoint such as our 10%4Women fund. We are giving 10% of our profits to women’s reproductive health in the US because 20 million women lack access to those services. 

What modes of contraception are more sustainable than others?

At the end of the day the #1 cause of climate change is overpopulation and 50% of pregnancies are unintended in the US (in the age 15-44 age category, significantly higher than in most other developed countries). That being said, using contraception, whether it is an IUD or condom or pill, is sustainable. I think holistically you can’t make the argument that one form of birth control is not sustainable because unplanned pregnancy is unsustainable. Having children that we can’t feed, that we can’t take care of, having overpopulation, from a meta and systems thinking standpoint, is completely unsustainable. 

I think using our condoms is the most sustainable from a supply chain standpoint and my philosophy on non-toxic living and doing what’s natural, but I don’t like to put other forms of contraception down because I think it is important for women to be using contraception. The thing that sort of gets lost among our generation for some reason is that using just the pill or using an IUD and having casual sex is okay and safe. The conversation needs to be around the reality that no matter who you are, no matter what demographic you are in, when you are having unprotected sex you are exposing yourself to STD’s.

What makes Sustain condoms different from others?

Our goal and Jeffrey’s goal always is not to point our finger and criticize our competitors- we want to provide an example of how you can do business better. You can make a more sustainable, healthier, safer product and still make money. That is our goal. We want to inspire and be an example for the rest of the condom manufacturers.
SO there. We did it, we talked about sex. We made it. Take aways? Protect yourself. Have fun. Be mindful. Use protection. Remember everything that you buy, even condoms, has an impact and you as a consumer can be powerful and make a choice to 1) be informed and 2) buy better. 

September 19, 2014

A Zero Waste Evening with WTF Magazine X Tipi Project

What happens when you plop a teepee in the middle of Havemeyer Park in South Williamsburg and Natasha Garoosi is able to plan an event there? Magic, that's what.

On Wednesday WTF Magazine X Tipi Project had this amazing party and asked me to do a demo on how to make zero waste toothpaste. Oh yeah, and the demo was INSIDE of the teepee.
In short, it was an amazing night full of amazing Rawpothecary and The Juice Witches Organic juices, Sweet By Jana cookies, Pushcart Coffee pastries, Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes and new friends. And toothpaste. Lots of Zero Waste toothpaste.
We had all of the juices in large bottles and everyone was able to drink them out of mason jars. The decorations were all from friends - Natasha used a curtain as a tablecloth, The Juice Witches brought an awesome blanket, and I brought a bunch of mismatched jars from my house to use as vases that I filled with plants that were growing around the park. (The flowers were just kind of thrown on the ground, and others I literally picked out of the trash!) It was an incredible night that Natasha actually pulled together in THREE DAYS. It just goes to show you that you don't need much more than good people and a couple bottles of juice to host an extremely successful event.