For the past 8 years Lauren Singer has kept all her trash in a single mason jar. She is 28 years old. Meet the founder and CEO of Package Free.
By Sonia Kovacevic.
Lauren Singer, otherwise known as “the girl with the trash jar,” is an environmentalist and pioneer of the zero-waste movement. Through her immense following via her blog and social channels, Trash is for Tossers, she is renowned for bringing the movement into the mainstream. In 2017, Singer launched the Package Free Shop, originally intended to be a three-month pop-up with the goal of creating more accessibility to living zero-waste. The pop-up never closed.
Can you talk us through your journey in going zero waste, up to where you are now with Package Free.
My goal in life is large scale, positive environmental change. I started reducing my waste after advocating against institutions and businesses that were devastating the environment through practices such as fracking and realizing that my own daily actions didn’t align with my values. I came across the zero waste movement online and founded a media platform called “Trash is for Tossers” that followed my own journey in living zero waste. It became evident to me through the attention the platform garnered and the questions my audience asked, that while people were interested in living sustainably, they didn’t have access to effective and affordable products to help them do so. I founded Package Free in 2017 with a mission of making the world less trashy by offering products that help people reduce waste daily. We want to make it as easy and accessible to buy zero waste products that are safe for our homes, bodies, and environment as it is to buy a Unilever or P&G product.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your own business, and the most rewarding part of the journey?
Finding a balance between my professional and my personal life. I launched Package Free with the objective of building a business based off my values, so I’m naturally passionate about my work. With that said, it can be difficult to pull myself away from my desk. I’ve learned after recently closing our first fundraising round and expanding both our stores and our team, that taking time to rest and reset is just as important to your productivity as hours logged on e-mail. It’s been incredible to see the growth of Package Free since we first launched as a pop-up a little over 2 years ago, so much of it has been rewarding; I would say the impact we’ve created, the community we’ve built and the enthusiasm we’ve received from our investors, our team, and our customers worldwide.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
I am deeply tied to my mission and the why behind Package Free. I started this company to solve a very real problem for myself and others: that sustainability wasn’t as convenient and accessible as it should be. I always follow my north star, which is creating large scale positive environmental impact, to guide the decisions that I am making. I would say for any young entrepreneur (or truly, any entrepreneur), it’s so important to know your why and your mission and your north star to keep you focused on your goals.
For those who may not know, why is keeping waste from landfills so important?
The average American creates 4.4 pounds of trash per day. Why‘s that bad? Landfills release methane which is a greenhouse gas up to 100x more potent than CO2 in the short term, which means that by creating trash, you are not just creating a physical problem (as they leach chemicals into water systems), but they directly speed up climate change through releasing methane. A better alternative to throwing food into a landfill? Composting!
What are some simple changes people can do to reduce their impact?
Just say no -The easiest way for people to start limiting their waste is to just say no. Saying no is free and has a big impact. This means saying no to single-use bags, silverware, straws, etc.
Dig through your trash – See what you throw away every day. This provides a starting point for you to see what you can eliminate. For example, if you throw away a lot of single-use water bottles, maybe it would be good to invest in a reusable water bottle and water filter. Once you incorporate that into your life, you can move onto the next item.
Be excited – Every positive change is positive when it comes to reduce your waste. I always like to stay positive and excited.
What inspires you every day to keep doing what you do?
Every day I am inspired to live a zero waste lifestyle because I know that I am aligning my personal values with my day to day lifestyle and working to create a positive impact. I can confidently say that I don’t just claim to love the environment, I live like I love the environment. Through Trash is for Tossers and Package Free, I am able to show that living a zero-waste lifestyle is simple, cost-effective, and fun!
What is your mission?
At Package Free we’re on a mission to make the world less trashy through selling products that help you reduce waste daily. We believe in the power of individuals to create large scale positive, environmental impact. Since opening in 2017, our customers’ purchases have helped to eliminate over 75 million pieces of trash from landfills – and we’re just getting started! We’ve recently raised a round of financing to manufacture sustainable versions of the consumer products that people are already using every day in order to lower barriers to sustainability and make it as accessible to buy a product from Package Free product as it is to buy from Unilever or P&G. As a founder, I believe that access to sustainable products is not for a select few, but that is, in fact, a basic human right