Many people know Andrea Sanders as the “Be Zero Waste Girl,” on Instagram, but before that Instagram era, she lived in Florida where farmers’ markets and waste reduction were not popular topics of conversation. Sander taught environmental conservation in the early 2000s when she first discovered a blog from Johnson about how to reduce their household waste. The Johnson blog, Zero Waste Homes, makes Johnson one of the pioneers of zero waste and makes Sanders think about how she relates that to her surrounding waste. This helps her see a deeper picture of waste.
“Garbage is not just something I try to reduce,” Sanders said, “but it tells a bigger story about what we value and the relationships we have with the things around us.”
The first few steps begin with simple and attentive steps. She started carrying bags that could be used again when shopping. She starts taking cups to coffee shops, and when people ask her about it, Sanders can use what she calls “quiet activism” to explain the reason. She also slowly changed her diet to reflect a much healthier vegan lifestyle.
Andrea Sanders Obstacles as a Vegan
Due to changes in lifestyle and mindset, she began to face several obstacles in living a new lifestyle that was healthier and caring for the environment. In her place does not have a farmer’s market or many places for recycling. There is also no local community for people who are interested in learning more about environmental sustainability. In the early 2000s, Florida did not have access to resources or materials like her home now in Boulder, Colorado.
But this was not seen as an obstacle, she began to use “zero waste fails” as a tool for learning. She began to be more aware of what the general public thinks about waste and sustainable life. This shift in life for Sanders is a change that begins with a change in her personal life that quickly turns into a deeper problem that she wants to teach others. As she said in every lecture and conference, “waste touches everything.”
In the education sector, she also experienced some difficulties, making people understand their relationship with material to be one of them. “If we can get people to take the curtains off to get to know their relationship with other things, we can see things differently,” Sanders said.
Advice from Andrea Sanders
When asked about the advice of starting on a zero-waste lifestyle, Sanders said the small steps were always the easiest way to get started. Getting knowledge about how the material can be understood by the public and how people interact with resources is a good starting point.
“You can’t start by doing everything,” Sanders said. Some practical suggestions she gave to beginners included conducting a garbage audit, going to the farmers market, and maybe even starting a small community meeting. For her, by doing small things like starting a conversation with someone else and raising awareness is what creates small social change.
She recommends handling one thing at a time and insisting that this trip is not a competition but a way to achieve what we want. Until now Andrea Sanders regularly posted on Instagram and encouraged people around the world to start their own journey in reducing waste.