YOU don’t have to be a martyr or a hero to help save the planet. But you do need a certain amount of steely determination.
A few years have passed since California-based zero-waste guru Kathryn Kellogg set out to reduce the amount of waste she produces to almost nothing.
In that time, her eagerness and enthusiasm have also helped her to engage with other people concerned about the future of the planet – to the extent that the 20something’s lifestyle blog attracts more than 10,000 page views a month – and plenty of hate mail into the bargain.
SAVING THE PLANET: zero waste campaigner and blogger Kathryn Kellogg
Interview by the Guardian back in 2016 Kathryn, then 25, admitted to spending four hours a day on the blog, posting on Instagram, engaging with Facebook followers and writing about everything from homemade eyeliner to worm composting.
It was a breast cancer scare during her college years that sparked her interest in thinking about what we put in our bodies. And although the tumours were benign, living with the pain set her thinking about beauty and cleaning products.
“The whole experience really got me thinking about what I put in and on my body. I had never considered it before; I just assumed everything I was consuming was safe,” she recalls.
“What I learned is there’s very little regulation and testing for a lot of the products we buy. Many of these products contain endocrine disruptors which interfere with our hormones. I felt very motivated to take control of my health, try to balance my hormones, and naturally ease my pain.”
She started to reduce her contact with plastic, cooking from scratch, checking her sugar and caffeine intake and making my own cleaning products, and opting for green beauty products.
“After experimenting and moving to a more holistic lifestyle, all of my pain went away,” she says.
COMMUNITY EFFORT: Kellogg encourages followers to get friends and family involved
The aspiring actress majored in musical theatre and performed professionally after college before moving to California where she lives north-east of San Francisco with her husband Justin and their “fluffball” dog Nala.
Nowadays she buys secondhand, uses cloth bags and glass jars for shopping, composts her leftovers and views recycling as a last resort. Her aim is to fit a year’s worth of trash – anything that hasn’t been composted or recycled – into an 8oz glass jar.
Appalled by the litter and plastic lining the streets around her home, she’s also only too well aware that plastic isn’t just bad for personal health, but for the health of the planet.
Interestingly, back in October the global brands analyst team at Mintel identified concern over throwaway plastic as one of six key consumer trends impacting on industries and markets around the world in 2019 – so perhaps the campaigner’s time has come.
“I started my blog to help others improve their personal health, improve the health of the planet, and most importantly I wanted everyone to know their choices matter. Big or small, the changes you make add up to a huge positive impact,” she says.
“Small actions done by hundreds of thousands of people will change the world. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, you just have to try.”
Her followers may not quite be ready to follow in her footsteps as far as having a zero-waste wedding (as she did in 2017) or zero-waste Christmases (since 2015). But Kathryn’s enthusiasm is infectious and her message has always been that every little counts.
And for anyone interested in embarking on that first stage in the journey, her blog posts provide easy no-nonsense ways of getting started.