Have you ever thought about how much trash you create in a day?
My juice comes in plastic bottles, my prepared meals come in plastic containers, my favorite to go meal from my favorite restaurant comes in a plastic bowl in a plastic bag.
It’s not just food either, it’s everything. When you order something online it comes in a box full of packing products.
It all adds up pretty quick, and once I started to notice how much trash I was creating, I started to wonder about a different solution.
I’m not the only one noticing this problem, and you may even feel the same way. The zero waste lifestyle is a growing trend, and on the forefront of that is my friend Lauren Singer.
Some of you may know Lauren from her popular blog Trash is for Tossers, or even from her giant social media following. Lauren was an environmental science major in college when she came to the discovery that she was creating just as much waste as everyone else.
She decided to make an impact on the world by changing her personal actions and believed that her love for the planet would inspire others to do the same. Today she has been featured on several major news outlets, has a massive social media impact, owns a package free shop in Brooklyn, and is considered a leader in the zero-waste movement.
On this episode, Lauren gave some amazing insights on how to live a waste free life. If you’re worried that cutting down on your waste is expensive or impossible based on where you live, get ready to see this lifestyle in a new light.
Learn all about the impact your actions have on our planet and how to improve them on Episode 605.
TSOG – Ep605 – The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 605 with Lauren Singer.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
I’m very excited about this episode, because we have a bright, young thinker in the house, who is helping evolve the way we all think on how we can live a zero waste, simple life. Now Lauren Singer is an environmental activist, and entrepreneur and a blogger. Her blog, Trash is for Tossers, focusses on educating readers on how she achieves a zero waste lifestyle, and her company, The Simple Co, sells environmentally friendly laundry detergent as well.
She attended NYU and received a degree in Environmental Studies, and went on to work as a sustainability analyst for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. She also has a store called, Package Free, which is all about living with zero waste and zero plastic. And most notably, all of the waste she does produce is kept inside the same 16oz Mason jar. It’s pretty spectacular what she’s been able to do.
And she’s been featured in New York Magazine, MSNBC, NBC, AOL, CNN, Yahoo, Fox Business, NPR and all over the world. And in this interview we talk about how to decide what to buy when reducing waste in your life. Also, why Lauren doesn’t judge people who are creating waste, thankfully. She walked in and she saw my trash; she did not judge me! Also, how to deal with all the haters in your life, what the world could look like if we shifted away from a culture of consumption, and Lauren’s advice for young, female entrepreneurs.
Before we dive in I want to give a thank you to the Fan of the Week, and a big shout out to Chris Coke who said, “Jesse Itzler recommended your book in his new programme, Build Your Life Resume, so after listening to your book, I downloaded about twenty podcasts and can’t thank you enough for doing what you do. I love filling my head and conversations with growth mindset info. You have a ton of amazing interviews with great people, but it’s how you engage with the people you interview shows how much you really care about continuing to be great. It’s never ending.”
So, Chris Coke, thank you so much for your support and you are the Fan of the Week. And if you guys want to get shouted out on the podcast, and a chance to be the Fan of the Week, just go ahead and leave us a review over on iTunes. So you can go to your podcast app and just click “review” right there on The School of Greatness, or go to lewishowes.com/itunes on your computer, and leave a review there.
And a big thank you to our sponsor for this episode, which is Shopify. Now if you are an entrepreneur and you are looking to launch a product or a business online, then I highly recommend going to shopify.com/greatness. Now, why? I use Shopify for some of my retail online business, and I love them. They make it so easy for a business owner who is running a store and for customers buying your products. And when you launch an online store, it’s important to choose the right systems to free up your time, so that you can focus on what is most important in your business. And Shopify lets me do just that.
And the thing I love about being an entrepreneur is it’s rewarding because of the freedom it gives, and the ability to be your own boss, to travel and to do more. But you don’t want to be stressed out and spend your time managing all the little details in your business. If you choose smart partners, like Shopify, they’ll eliminate all that for you. So, if you have a big idea or you want to launch your own brand online, then make sure to visit shopify.com/greatness, and you can get started right now with a free 30-day trial. So, head over to shopify.com/greatness and get started with your free 30-day trial right now.
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We break down the money mindset, how you can get clear on your money vision, and the actionable steps that you can take, like other millionaires take and how it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, your background, your experience, your age, any of that, you can start implementing these practices every single day, to support you in earning more money, today.
Check it out, it’s absolutely free. All you do is pay for shipping and handling. Go to themillionairemorning.com, get a free copy of the book. We’ll ship it to you out in the next week. Get access to it, right in your hands. Again, themillionairemorning.com, get it today! All you got to do is pay for shipping and handling.
Alright, let’s dive into this! I’m super pumped to welcome you to the one, the only, Lauren Singer.
Welcome back, everyone, to The School of Greatness podcast. We have Lauren Singer in the house! Good to see you!
Lauren Singer: Good to see you too.
Lewis Howes: Welcome to L.A. Glad you’re here, we’ve been trying to make this happen for a while. We got connected through a mutual friend, Lacey, who couldn’t be here, who’s such an amazing soul, sweetheart, and a friend of ours. So, shout out to Lacey! Thanks for the introduction!
Lauren Singer: We miss you!
Lewis Howes: Yes. And we’ve had some good times! I went to Brooklyn, we connected there, I went to your store which was a really cool store, in Brooklyn.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, we went to a semi-dance party.
Lewis Howes: Semi-dance party, big dinner and lunch/brunch, walked around with a bunch, a big group of people. So we’ve had some good, those good moments where you get to connect with people, even though we’ve only hung out a few times. We would spend like, three or four hours and doing different stuff, you really bond.
Lauren Singer: Yeah. Especially in Brooklyn.
Lewis Howes: In Brooklyn especially. So, thanks for coming on. I’m excited to talk about the stuff that you’ve been working on. You’ve been blowing up online with your story of zero waste. And this is what everyone knows you for right now. I remember, I think I had a photo with you when I was in Brooklyn and some guy that follows me was, like, “I’m obsessed with her. That’s my dream woman I would marry. Someone who’s beautiful and somebody who’s into the environment and activism, everything.” So, I’m sure you have a lot of male fans watching and listening as well. You’re out here now, so holler out or, DM her…
But tell me, how did you get into this zero waste? What is zero waste and why did you get into it?
Lauren Singer: So, I think zero waste means different things to different people, but, for me it’s always meant, as an individual, not sending anything to a land fill. So, not throwing anything on the ground, obviously, no littering, no putting anything in a trash can, but I do compost and I recycle, but as a last resort, because recycling takes a lot of energy and a lot of water.
And this all kind of started when I was in college. I didn’t have a family that was into sustainability or being environmentally conscious, so everything kind of started when I learned about hydrofracking.
Lewis Howes: What’s hydrofracking?
Lauren Singer: It’s a process of extracting natural gas from shale formations and uses tons of water, toxic chemicals and has put a lot of people out of their homes, out of work. It has been just a huge social issue and environmental issue. And I became really passionate about it. I was protesting against it, went to DC to lobby. And it kind of just consumed my whole life.
And I studied Environmental Science at NYU, and was always proselytising about sustainability, I was telling everyone, like, “Mom, don’t drink non-organic milk. Dad, you have to recycle,” kind of telling people what they had to do. And everyone would be like, “Just shut up! Stop it! I don’t care!” or no-one likes to be told what to do, and that’s kind of what I was doing, but I was learning all this stuff that was so exciting and so empowering and ways that people could change their lives, when it comes to impacting the Earth and no-one wanted to be told.
And so, my senior year of college, I was in the last class you have to take as an environmental studies major, and there was a girl in my class that, every day, would bring in this big plastic bag with a plastic clamshell for food and a plastic fork and knife and a plastic thing of Gatorade, and a bag of chips, and she would eat everything and just throw it in the trash.
And I would kind of sit there, staring at her, being like, “Are you really going to do this? Are you going to throw this away?” And just watching her and giving her eyes. I think she thought I was absolutely crazy. And I would just judge her for being this person who studied environmental science and then would make so much trash.
And I went home one day after class to make dinner and I opened my fridge and saw that every single thing in there was packaged in plastic, from my lettuce that was pre-washed, to my milk which was in a plastic container, like, everything. And I had this realisation that, I have been protesting against the oil and gas industry for two years, at this point now, and it’s been like my entire life, and I looked in my fridge and saw all of this plastic.
I was supporting and subsidising this industry, because one of the biggest products of the oil and gas industry is plastic. I was supporting them through my everyday consumption habits, and I started looking around my apartment and I was like, “Oh my gosh, all my beauty products are made of or packaged in plastic. All of my cleaning products, all of my kitchen utensils. My clothes,” because fashion, so much of it, is made from synthetic fibres made from plastic.
And I was like, “I’m such a hypocrite.” I was getting mad at this girl for making plastic trash with her meal, but my entire world was made of plastic. And I made a decision in that moment, to stop using plastic, which obviously isn’t an overnight thing. Right? If you think of walking into a CVS, every single thing in there is in plastic.
So, I was, like, “Okay, I’m going to transition away from plastic,” but I couldn’t walk into a normal store and find all my beauty products. And so I started doing research online of how I could find beauty products plastic free. And it turned out that the way was to make them. So I started making my own beauty products.
Lewis Howes: You couldn’t buy anything plastic free.
Lauren Singer: I could not find anything plastic free. So I started looking up recipes to make my own beauty products and some of my own cleaning products and through that I found this website about this woman who lives in Mill Valley, California, who is living a zero waste lifestyle. And I’d never heard of anything like this. When I read more about it, and I learned about it, it was like, “Oh my gosh, this woman does not send anything to a landfill!” This is the coolest, most empowering thing that I’ve ever heard in my life.
Because, I thought, obviously I really cared about environmental sustainability, was talking about it all the time, was protesting, but it was the first time that I realised I had a way to align my day to day actions with the things that I cared about. And for so long, I wasn’t doing that. And so, going zero waste was really the way that I could live my values. And five years ago I made the switch and it’s been amazing.
Lewis Howes: It’s crazy! And now, is it easier for anyone to buy things without plastic? Or is it still like five years ago.
Lauren Singer: That’s kind of my life’s work, really. Because when I learned about zero waste, she was the only person writing about it at the time and the only person talking about it, and so I later started my blog, Trash is for Tossers, to document my journey of reducing waste and opening the conversation in a way that felt safe and non-confrontational, because, remember I was saying, so much of the conversation in environmentalism is, “You’re not doing this,” or, “You’re screwing this up,” and it’s so the blame game.
And that, to me, I realised that by just taking everything on myself and being, like, “Okay, I’m a part of the problem. What can I do to change this and share my experience through taking control of my waste and talking about my experience from my perspective, that it made people feel comfortable to have a discussion around waste.
And so, I started Trash is for Tossers and I learned that I actually didn’t even have to tell someone, “You should stop doing this.” Through hearing my story and through learning that I was living a zero waste lifestyle and through knowing that there was an option for the way that we can live our lives, people were, like, “Wow! I’m doing a pretty sh**y job here. I want to make some changes.” And so, I just shifted the entire way I approached talking about issues.
Lewis Howes: So, is recycling not enough, then, in your mind, for people?
Lauren Singer: I’m trying to make it obsolete.
Lewis Howes: That we don’t even need it.
Lauren Singer: Yeah! I think packaging is antiquated. I think if we invest in multi-use alternatives to single use packaging, then we can eliminate a ton of waste. So, through, like one of my businesses is package free and it’s aimed to provide multi-use alternatives to single use disposable products, that are made of predominantly plastic, so we don’t have to keep investing in and wasting resources and energy and money on these single use items, and ultimately we save money and we’re healthier, because plastic is toxic for the human body.
Lewis Howes: Right. What’s an example of some of these things that you guys have?
Lauren Singer: A simple one that’s kind of in the bubble, right now, of conversation, is straws, plastic straws, right? So many people are against them, they’re being banned in tons of places.
Lewis Howes: There was a whole celebrity campaign around it a couple of months ago. “I suck” or something, like, “I’m not sucking any more,’ or something, yeah.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, “straws suck”. And so we offer, the first thing that I say is, “You don’t need straws,” obviously. Most people don’t need them, but if you do feel that you need straws, for whatever reason, we use three alternatives made of bamboo, silicone and stainless steel that can last you forever, and that are recyclable and bio-degradable at the end of their life. So, it’s an investment that has a positive impact, not just on the environment, but on your health, because plastic straws leach toxins.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. And what about food? You know, that’s been the biggest thing and people are consuming food every single day, in plastic containers at the store.
Lauren Singer: It’s interesting. When I started going zero waste I was in college, a senior, and I didn’t know how to prepare food or make a grocery list and so I would find myself at the library until three in the morning, starving, having to eat absolute garbage. And then I would feel bad about myself, I would waste money, I would feel unhealthy, you know, the dialogue around most college students, where you just feel like s**t most of the time.
Through going zero waste, I eliminated the perimeter of packaging from my purchasing options, right? And so I realised what happened was that I started eating really, really, really well.
Lewis Howes: Fresh vegetables and all those things.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and I felt like I had never felt in my life before. I was sleeping better, my weight had stabilised. I just had more energy. And I realised that most of the food that we buy that comes in packaging isn’t actually food, it’s a food product. It’s packaged, there’s preservatives, there’s ingredients in it that aren’t even natural, and so, by eliminating packaging altogether, one, I was saving money, because we pay a premium for packaging, but, two, I was healthier because I was eating real food.
Lewis Howes: Pay for packaging and the brand on the packaging, yeah. And so, where can you go, then, for that type of… I guess you can go to the grocery store and get non-packaged vegetables in the produce section.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, and I mean, most conventional grocery stores have both options. There’s a lettuce that’s just a lettuce, hanging out on the shelf, and then there’s the pre-washed, pre-cut lettuce in the packaging. And I am perfectly capable of cutting and washing lettuce and I actually really like that experience of seeing the entire product.
Lewis Howes: You just don’t put it in the plastic bag that they are…
Lauren Singer: Yeah, I just put it in my car. There’s this fear of fruit and vegetables touching each other that people have, and they have to put everything in it’s own bag, and I’m like, “That’s interesting? Like, why?” So, yeah, I just let all my fruit and vegetables touch each other. It’s scary. But if you’re afraid of that, I have these organic cotton reusable bags that you can put your produce in that I sell at Package Free. And then you can just wash them afterwards.
And then, it’s funny, because so many people buy organic produce, but then they put it in a plastic bag. I’m like, “That’s interesting.” So, most conventional grocery stores will have the unpackaged produce and then the packaged produce, you have a choice there. But I’ve travelled pretty extensively everywhere, and I’ve never had a problem finding a natural food store or a farmer’s market or a grocery store where I can get things that aren’t packaged.
And so, that’s kind of one of the first things that people say, “That’s impossible! They don’t have this where I live,” and I would have said the same thing when I started. I didn’t even know, in New York City, it was possible to live this lifestyle, but it just takes a little bit of time and research and I realised that there was this whole world available to me where I didn’t have to make any trash, where I could eat healthier, where I was saving money. And it was right in front of me, and I just didn’t know.
Lewis Howes: What if there’s something, you’re in L.A. right now, you go to your favourite grocery store, Erewhon, and there’s a smoothie in a plastic jar that you just really want to have. Do you try that sometimes and just like, “Eh, once in a while will do it,” or do you just, “You know what? There’s a better alternative that I can go make it and then I bring my jar and have them put it in the jar.”? How does that work?
Lauren Singer: I mean, one of the bigger things is, every decision that we make, when it comes to consumption, has an impact that’s larger than the product that we’re looking at. Things are manufactured, if it’s a food product, or a textile product, it comes from farmers, which have their own life and their own social issues, and I try to ask myself the question, “Is this worth it?” You know, is the impact that this consumption decision that I’m about to make, is it worth it?
And when I look at a smoothie in a plastic container, I ask myself, “Do I need this? Is this necessary for my happiness? Is this necessary for my life?” And 99.99999% of the time it’s not. And that’s something also really beautiful about this lifestyle. It’s made me re-evaluate what is actually necessary and what makes me happy.
I constantly ask myself the question before I’m about to consume or buy anything: “Does this make me feel happy? Does this make me feel beautiful? Does this make me feel special? Do I feel like the best version of myself with this or because of this?” And if the answer is, “No,” which it normally is, then I don’t even think about it again. It’s done.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Wow. And so, when you do want a smoothie or something at a store, do you bring your own container in, or how…? You’ve got the mason jars, you’ve got the…
Lauren Singer: Yeah, so I bring in a container that I refill, I always have a little container with a fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, straw, in my bag. I have a coffee cup that I carry with me, my reusable water bottle. And I’m just prepared. So, I think about where I’m going.
If I’m coming to L.A. I’ll look up some stores that offer things in bulk, or I’ll look at places where I can bring in my own container and I’ll have a dialogue with the person that works there, like, “Hey, I know this might sound really weird, but I try to live a life where I don’t create any trash, and I prefer not to use any plastic. Is this okay if you refill my [cup].”
And they’re usually, like, “Oh my gosh!” especially here, they’re like, “That’s so cool! I love this, this is awesome! I do this too!” And it’s just all about having a dialogue and not being demanding, but as a consumer we can be demanding. We’re exchanging our money for goods, so I think it’s our right to ask for and demand what we want.
Lewis Howes: Interesting, yeah. And what about with clothes and everything else like that?
Lauren Singer: I buy everything second-hand.
Lewis Howes: Second-hand, nothing new?
Lauren Singer: I’ll buy underwear new, organic cotton. But besides that, you can get really cool second-hand bras, which sounds weird, maybe, but I don’t care. And it’s all about the slogan of Package Free Shop is, “Give a s**t,” and for me, when it comes to being judged for decisions that I’m making that help to have a positive impact on the environment, I just don’t give a s**t.
You know, I do what I’m doing and I don’t care what people think, because I know that it aligns with what I believe in.
Lewis Howes: That’s great! And even if it’s been in packaging before, originally, even though it’s second-hand, it’s still, because you’re recycling that?
Lauren Singer: We’re using something that’s already in the waste stream, so everything I buy second-hand. And another cool thing about this time that we live in is the internet makes it so easy for people to consume things second-hand, through the sharing economy, whether it’s Craigslist, or through websites like Poshmark where you can buy second-hand clothes for men and women, it’s so possible to get everything reused. And you save so much money because of it.
Lewis Howes: Right. Wow. How many people in your life have you influenced to do this, that you thought would never go, or I guess how many people have gone completely to the level of your waste free status of zero cheating on this, ever? And then how many have surprised you who’ve bought at the store.
Lauren Singer: I don’t even think of it as “cheating”, I just think every positive step is positive, every positive action is positive and so if you’re doing one thing even, and you make waste in the rest of your life, I still consider that something positive.
Lewis Howes: It’s a step forward, yeah.
Lauren Singer: And so when it comes to my friends and family, I’ve never asked them to be zero waste or reduce their waste at all, but I think they see that I’ve started three companies, I feel happier and healthier, I’m a better version of myself through living this lifestyle, and, I think, through inviting people into my life in a way that feels safe, they’ve adopted these things.
Lewis Howes: Without judging.
Lauren Singer: Yeah! I would never judge anyone for where they’re at, because I cared about environmental sustainability, but I was wasteful as hell, and who am I to judge or critique anyone for where they’re at. I feel like my role is to be a champion of my own beliefs and my values, be consistent and then invite people into my life if they’re open to it, and if they’re not, then I love you for who you are.
Lewis Howes: What if you were dating someone who had plastic everywhere, plastic container food, would you be, like, “Eh, I can’t stay with this person.”?
Lauren Singer: Everyone that I’ve dated hasn’t been zero waste.
Lewis Howes: But they’re conscious about it, they’re mindful.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, it comes with the territory, right? I live this lifestyle, this is who I am. It’s like, take it or leave it.
Lewis Howes: It’s like being with a vegan, you’re probably going to eat less meat.
Lauren Singer: Except, vegans will always tell you that they’re vegans and that you shouldn’t eat meat. No, just kidding! I love being with vegans.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, but you’ll probably eat less meat if you were with a vegan.
Lauren Singer: No, totally. I think everyone wants to have a more positive impact. I don’t think anyone really wants to be wasteful, but I think, first of all, people really aren’t aware of the impact that their choices have, so that’s the first thing. But, two, I think, there’s all these barriers to taking the first step.
They don’t know where to start. There is this pre-conception that it’s too expensive, or that it’s really hard, or that it’s time consuming, or that it’s this elitist thing. And, for me, I think my role is to really dispel those preconceptions and show that this is really easy, and it’s really approachable and that there are so many external benefits that you wouldn’t even think of, because of living this lifestyle.
Lewis Howes: Right. It’s easy for you, do you think? Or do you feel like you have to…?
Lauren Singer: It is. It’s so easy for me.
Lewis Howes: Life is more simplified, do you think?
Lauren Singer: Like, a million percent. A million fold.
Lewis Howes: How so?
Lauren Singer: I mean, I just have fewer things, so that helps. My home is easier to clean, I can leave with less stress. I save money, so obviously that takes a financial burden off of the equation. I’m more conscious and deliberate about my purchasing decisions. I’m more conscious and deliberate about mostly everything in my life and I’ve been able to just be happier and I think that just makes things easier.
And I think also, my attitude going into it was what helped. I didn’t say, “I’m going on this crash diet and I’m eliminating all this plastic from my life, and if I screw up then everything is done and I’m a horrible person.”
I went into it, and I was like, “This is awesome! I’m so down for this! I’m going to start and I’m going to do one thing and it’s going to be amazing! I’m going to integrate it into my routine and then then I’ll succeed, and then I’m going to do something else and if it’s not perfect I’m going to try again,” and it was like I gameified it, kind of. I congratulated myself every time I did something that aligned more with this goal of mine. And I think that’s the attitude you have to take when making any change in your life.
Lewis Howes: Right, right. Have you inspired others to be completely zero waste, or waste free?
Lauren Singer: I started out with a blog, being really the second person who was talking about this in a public space, and now there’s zero waste stores all over the world! There’s people blogging about zero waste, there are tons of people. My following has increased on social media, my blog views have totally increased. There’s brands wanting to align with zero waste. There’s so much happening in this space now, and I have people write to me every day being, like, “This totally changed my life.” And the only thing that I did was show people that there’s another way to live and give them the tools to apply that to their own life.
Lewis Howes: When you first did this assessment in your space, you realised there’s plastic everywhere. In the fridge, and in your place, did you say, “Okay, I need to get rid of this plastic,” originally, and recycle it, or do something with it, and then, “Never again will plastic touch my space,” type of thing? How do you get rid of the plastic in the most efficient way?
Lauren Singer: There’s a few ways. So, one, if there’s still things that are usable, you know, I wanted to eliminate plastic from my life, but there are people that would like to use anything, regardless of what material it is and there are places that would openly take donations of any type, because there are people that don’t have things, in general, and so first of all, I like to look at everything and ask, “Is there someone that could use this, or benefit from this?” And so I donated a lot.
But with beauty products, and many of the other plastics that weren’t recyclable, I learned of this really amazing option where it’s a company called TerraCycle, and their motto is really, like, “recycle anything”, and so you can send them your toothpaste containers, your beauty product packaging, and they’ll recycle it. And so, that’s, I think, the best bridge between living a conventional, waste producing lifestyle, and making zero waste.
Lewis Howes: Send it to that company. Anything, they’ll recycle anything.
Lauren Singer: They will take pretty much anything, yeah. They even take cigarettes and diapers, it’s pretty cool.
Lewis Howes: Wow! So you don’t have to throw stuff away, is what you’re saying.
Lauren Singer: Yeah. There is always an option. I’ve found that there’s always an option. You just have to do a little bit of legwork to make it happen and to figure it out.
Lewis Howes: What about all the haters that you get online? How do you deal with that, personally?
Lauren Singer: I mean, one, I don’t indulge in negativity. I read a comment… When I first started doing this there was a big article that came out about me, which put zero waste into the mainstream conversation, because it was shared pretty widely. And there were people who were, like, “This is bulls**t. This girl isn’t real, she’s just doing this for attention,” or whatever.
And first of all, I didn’t care, because that’s not true, and I got a little bit emotionally affected, because I’m doing this for myself, I’m doing this because I want to live in a world where people are living their lives in harmony with nature, where we’re not screwing up the planet for everything else. We’re the only creatures on Earth, that can destroy the planet for everything else. And I’m not down with that.
So, when people say negative things, first of all, I delete the comments, because it’s my world, it’s my social media, and who are you to come to my house and break my things? So, I dispel a lot of those negative comments by either sharing a post that proves it wrong, or I’ll just delete it. And maybe some people would say that’s screwed up or whatever, but I think if you’re going to have a discussion about it, about something, anything at all, have it be positive, have it be productive. Don’t tear people down for trying.
So, for haters, I say that most people who have a negative reaction to what I’m doing, they see something high level, zoomed out, and they don’t try to understand what it is. And I think anything that’s alien to people, for a lot of people, is something that’s scary or dangerous and so they just push it away altogether. And to me, zero waste is a collection of tiny little steps that are really easy, that together have a large scale impact.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. That’s cool.
Lauren Singer: And so, for haters, I just don’t indulge it, or try to be, like, “Come into my world. See what it’s really like. It’s actually really easy and awesome.” My family used to make fun of me so much, and mock me, and I think when they saw that I didn’t care, they were just like, “We’ll compost.”
Lewis Howes: “We’ll just try some of this ourselves,” yeah.
Lauren Singer: And my family compost now. They buy organic stuff now. They didn’t care. It wasn’t even on their radar, and because I was such a champion of my values, they started to take it to heart. My mom uses my stainless steel containers now. She uses reusable bags. She does all these things because she saw that it made me happier and I think she wanted some of that too. So I just, I do what makes me feel good, and hope that it inspires other people.
Lewis Howes: In an ideal world, if you could have anything, what would happen with, I guess, products in general? You know, all these products are out there, food, clothing, all this stuff. How would it be structured so that we could make better decisions, so that we wouldn’t have to make decisions, as consumers. That we’d just be, like, “Here’s the option, take it.”?
Lauren Singer: Yeah. It’s a loaded question. First of all, I think there’s way too much s**t out there.
Lewis Howes: Is cardboard okay, then? Like, a cardboard packaging box?
Lauren Singer: Well, it’s like, what is okay and what’s not okay. I think that as well is a very large and loaded question. But I think, one, there’s just too much stuff. There’s way too much stuff. We have too many choices, we’re obsessed with consumption, we get bored really easily. We think we need more and more and more.
So, I think first of all, I’d like to shift our values away from consumption and more towards experience. You know, how can we enjoy each other again without needing things. How can we show our love and affection without physical materials? And I think that’s very important because I think it’s something that, very much, is lost right now. Especially in America. But I would like for packaging to become obsolete, or standardised, or something where…
Lewis Howes: Reusable.
Lauren Singer: Yeah, you know, it’s just reusable. And a lot of people say, “Well, you know, doesn’t that kill creativity?” And, for me, I say, “What is creativity? What is your right as a creator, as an artist?
I think a lot of art and creativity could be masturbatory in a way. Like, if what you’re creating is contributing to something that’s totally detrimental for the environment, I think you need to check yourself, and ask, “Is what I am producing or creating necessary?” There’s so many products out there right now that aren’t necessary, and I think we need to evaluate that.
Lewis Howes: There you go. Awesome. What’s the thing you’re working on the most right now? We were talking before this about what you’re really, really excited about or what you’re into now, because this is now like, phase one of your journey, five years ago. This is the thing that gets talked about a lot in the press, but what’s really, what are you really working on?
Lauren Singer: I mean, mostly, right now, just running my companies. I studied journalism in college for the first year, and then I was, like, “I’m going to do economics and then I studied politics and environmental science, and I thought I was going to be a politician because I thought that was the way to make large scale positive environmental change. And that’s my north star, that’s what leads all of the decisions that I’ve made, and I thought that that was the way.
But then I learned about business. And I saw that business is the thing that bisects all bureaucracy. You can get things done through business so much faster than you can do anything else. You can make decisions that no one even looks at twice. You can kind of, business is this weird thing where you can do anything you want. It’s like a free world in a way. People say there’s regulation, but you have so many opportunities to exercise freedom and creativity, and that can be very dangerous, but it could also be super powerful.
So, for me, I’m focussed on building businesses that help to solve these large scale environmental problems that I’m seeing, you know, chipping away one thing at a time. So, most of my time is dedicated towards building and growing these businesses and then, through that, I’ve also learned that a lot of my time needs to be dedicated towards building and growing myself.
Lewis Howes: In what ways? Where do you get to grow the most?
Lauren Singer: I burnt out this winter, I took control of my company. I started Package Free with a partner, but I took control of it after the holidays, and I was running three companies, by myself, for the first time, I’m twenty-six, you know, there have been people far younger doing far more, but, for me, I didn’t have a balance between working seven days a week and being in a relationship, and having friends and a life and forgot to eat all the time. I forgot to exercise, I forgot to sleep and all of these things kind of snowballed.
And I had this moment where I just broke. And I realised, what I’ve dedicated so much of my energy towards now, was one, of course, running my businesses and supporting all the people that work for me, but, two, I can’t do that if I’m not taking good care of myself. And I learned that the hard way, through cracking. So I’m focussed on eating well, and loving myself and improving my mind and going to yoga. Just simple things, but I lost it so easily.
Lewis Howes: When did you realise you lost it? What was the breaking point? Or was it more just like a feeling of overwhelm?
Lauren Singer: I think, just relationships and my life kind of started changing. I was getting in fights with people that I wasn’t getting in fights with before. I was just feeling sad all the time.
Lewis Howes: Really? Why do you think that?
Lauren Singer: Yeah. Because I didn’t take care of myself, right? Because if you’re not eating and you’re not sleeping and you’re not exercising and you’re just working all the time, you forget that you’re a person.
Lewis Howes: A human being, yeah.
Lauren Singer: Yeah. And I think that takes a toll eventually. And that’s what happened. It just took one snap, one thing to happen and then I’ve just been changing my entire routine and it really has just changed my entire life, I think. I can be a better friend, and, I’m not in a relationship now, but I think I could be a better partner, retrospectively, by knowing that it’s necessary and totally not up for you to just be very selfish and take care of myself, and the same goes for business relationships and being a boss.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Wow. So, do you feel like you were more giving to everyone else as opposed to yourself, or just working so much that you never gave to yourself at all.
Lauren Singer: I think taking over Package Free was a lot of responsibility, and, for me, it was just kind of like a survival mode. I just had so much more to do that I couldn’t think of anything else but work.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs in their twenties who are trying to start something, launch something, grow something? What’s the most important things they should be aware of?
Lauren Singer: I made hard stops for myself. Like, I have to go to yoga every night at 7:30. I have to remember to buy groceries and eat meals. I have to remember to read things that improve and expand my mind and my thinking and to be really aware of my intentions and to talk to myself and to give myself moments when I’m in conversation with my body and my mind.
And I wasn’t, for so long. It’s so easy not to be if you’re someone who’s super intense and driven and ambitious, and I’m all of those things. And because of that I forgot about myself. And the advice that I would give is, check yourself, daily. Be like, “Am I feeling happy? Am I feeling hungry? Am I feeling tired? Am I feeling overwhelmed?” And asking yourself why. I think therapy is amazing, you know, talk to someone.
Lewis Howes: Wow, yeah. That’s a good realisation. Who is in your corner? Who is on your side? Is it your mom that you reached out to when you’re going through this, or do you have a friend, or a group of people?
Lauren Singer: Yeah, and it was also just a really hard year, because my best friends all moved away this year.
Lewis Howes: Where’d they go? L.A.?
Lauren Singer: Twenty-six is kind of that year where your life shifts, people get in more serious relationships. Jobs change. People kind of travel. And so I had to start putting myself out there more and making more friends and finding more people and ultimately I need to be in charge of taking care of my own mind, and taking care of my own emotions.
And of course I have my mom and my family and my friends, but I think mostly that responsibility does fall on myself and I need to be able to understand and accept and work with my brain and my emotions, and I’m very much trying to be intentional about teaching myself how to do that.
Lewis Howes: Wow. What do you think it’s going to take from you, this year, to get to the next level in your business and your personal life? Personal growth?
Lauren Singer: I think I’m trying to ask myself what’s important to me right now, and what’s important to me right now is work. So much more than doing things like building love relationships or making lots of new friends. I’m really focussed on work. So, I think, in order for me to be the best at growing my businesses, I need to be really, really nice to myself.
Lewis Howes: Are you usually not nice to yourself?
Lauren Singer: I think I’m good to myself, but I forget that I’m a person. And I think that happens to a lot of people. I started doing research on entrepreneurs that get divorced when they start their companies, or they break up or they lose friends or get depressed and tired. Like, this is a thing.
And I didn’t have that many people that had businesses in my life that could empathise or understand what I was going through. I have friends that just have nine-to-five jobs that can go get drunk and go out and they can go back to work on Monday, and I can’t do that. I’m working seven days a week.
So, yeah, I think just in order for me to accomplish my goal for this year, of just growing my businesses, I really need to grow myself.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, I love that. That’s cool. Anything else you want to share? I’ve got a few final questions, but I don’t know if there’s anything else.
Lauren Singer: Yeah. Go for it!
Lewis Howes: Okay, cool. This is called, The Three Truths. Three truths. Imagine you’ve made all the changes and impacts you want to make in the world. This is the end of your life, maybe you’re 200 years old, we’ve extended your lifespan now, some technology. You’re as old as you want to be, and it’s the last day for you and you’ve made all the impacts that you can possibly make: the environment, your mission, it’s come true. You’ve done it all. You’ve also written tons of articles and books and movies, you’ve done whatever you want to do.
Lauren Singer: Sounds awesome!
Lewis Howes: Sounds great, right? But, for whatever reason, all the information you’ve put out in the world has been erased. So no one has access to your videos or your content or your words any more. But you have a piece of paper and a pen that is not plastic, that you get to write down on.
Lauren Singer: A quill.
Lewis Howes: A quill! Just a strand of ink that you get to write on, a feather! And you dip it in the ink in a glass jar, you get to write down three things you know to be true about all of your experiences, which I call The Three Truths. So these will be your lessons or truths that you would share with the world, since this is all they have to be remembered by you. What would you write down as your three truths?
Lauren Singer: I guess the things that have always guided me are: It’s so important and necessary to live your values, and to ask yourself what is it that you care about, are you living your life in a way that aligns with that. So, that would be the first one.
My mom always told me that there’s nothing in life that’s permanent, except for death. Which made me realise that you can always change and grow and not be afraid of quitting or moving on or failing or anything, like, there’s always something else. Except for death. That would be the second one.
Third one. For me, at least, for my truth, it’s necessary for me to check in with myself every day and have a really clear idea of what my values are, to kind of go back to the first point. So, am I living my values? But the third point would be: What are my values? What are the things that I do care about? What are my intentions?
And I think the truth would be that those change all the time, and it’s so necessary to ask yourself what you care about and what makes you happy and what makes you excited every single day, so you can constantly be checking back in with that. I think that, for me, is the only way that I sustain my happiness.
Lewis Howes: That’s great, that’s great. Where can we connect with you online? Website, social media?
Lauren Singer: Yeah. I guess there are lots of places now.
Lewis Howes: Come to your store in Brooklyn?
Lauren Singer: You can come hang out with me in Brooklyn at Package Free Shop, you can read all about how to live a zero waste lifestyle on trashisfortossers.com, or my YouTube channel, which is just Trash Is For Tossers. I have my other company, The Simply Co, and yeah, Package Free Shop. All those places I will hear you and see you. I look at everything, I read everything.
Lewis Howes: Where do you hang out the most? Instagram?
Lauren Singer: Yeah! I love Instagram.
Lewis Howes: Trash is for Tossers, @trashisfortossers, right? So, go hang out with her there. If you scroll back a few months, you’ll see a photo of her standing on top of trash, with me next to you.
Lauren Singer: Yeah! We hugged on trash.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. We did. Trash that was being tossed.
Lauren Singer: Yeah. It was symbolic.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, yeah it was, exactly. Before I ask the final question, I want to acknowledge you for a moment, for your mission. I think it’s so empowering and inspiring to see someone your age with a commitment and a dedication to your values. You’re so committed to doing whatever it takes that you can do.
You’re putting out content, you’re creating physical goods, you have a store, you’re doing everything in your power right now to get the message out there and support people living this lifestyle. So, I acknowledge you for your inspiration constantly.
For you not judging me with having plastic in my place. But also inspiring me. I have a glass bottle container now, so, one step at a time for me. But honestly, also being an inspiring young female entrepreneur, to show other women what’s possible, and how they can create…
Lauren Singer: Anything.
Lewis Howes: Anything’s possible, yeah. So, I acknowledge you for all of that.
Lauren Singer: Thank you.
Lewis Howes: It’s amazing. Final question is: What’s your definition of greatness?
Lauren Singer: Living your values.
Lewis Howes: Lauren Singer. Thank you for coming on. Appreciate it.
Lauren Singer: Thank you.
Lewis Howes: There you have it, my friends, I hope you enjoyed this episode with Lauren Singer, such a beautiful individual with a big heart and a mission to serve the world. If you enjoyed this, make sure to share this out with your friends, lewishowes.com/605. All of the notes, the resources, the information we talked about on this episode is on the show notes. You can watch the full video interview there as well, and go subscribe to our YouTube channel that has over a quarter of a million subscribers, at youtube.com/lewishowes. You can watch all of our videos over there on YouTube as well.
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