BEING PART OF THE SOLUTION: An Interview With Zero Waste Activist Kathryn Kellogg

Whenever I am feeling disconnected (which is a lot of the time- living in a big city can be a riot!), I go to one place and one place only: a place where trees reach for the sky and tower over me. There is something about the fresh air, the feeling of dirt between my fingertips, and the story a tree has to tell that makes me feel a part of something bigger than myself.

There are species of trees as old as 80,000 years. They’ve seen more than I have. I feel so connected to these towering giants because they belong to my home. Our home.

We all have that desire in our hearts to see a healthier, happier earth. But how many of us turn those desires into actions? I decided to have a chat with Kathryn Kellogg, the founder of Going Zero Waste, because her passion radiates through her relentless eco-activism. She dedicated her ENTIRE life to it!

Kathryn shares her thoughts on living with intention, not being afraid of who you are, and being part of the solution, NOT the pollution.

Your journey was a very gradual one in going zero waste. It started with the motivation to take control of your health. Tell me about the moment you knew that your journey had shifted from a personal issue to a world issue? 

When I moved out to California, there was (and is) plastic and trash everywhere. It’s all over the streets, and we live so close to the bay. It’s only a couple of blocks away. So much pollution is swept in through storm drains and blowing in the water. 

I started doing more research and found out that 80% of all trash and plastic in the ocean is from inland. I knew the problem wasn’t centered solely on coastal towns but in all towns. 

All storm drains lead to the sea. This and a really cheesy poster that said: 

If you’re not a part of the solution you’re a part of the pollution.

Really made me want to spread the word as far and wide as I could. 

I kind of like living on the earth and breathing oxygen… 

What were you doing before GZW?

Pretty much all of the same stuff. I still work at a print shop and perform professionally in the bay area. Before I moved out to California I was doing professional theatre full time. 

I don’t do theatre as much as I’d like, only about 2-3 shows a year. I’d really like to get back to full-time eventually. It’s just hard working so many hours with the blog. 

What has been the most exciting part of GZW?

The best part has been getting to watch the zero waste movement grow. What we’re doing makes sense. It’s easy and it’s super beneficial to your mental and physical health. Plus, you save a lot of money! Who wouldn’t want to lead a healthier lifestyle for themselves and the planet? 

I have also loved getting to meet some amazing people who really care about making a difference.

Everyone is so passionate about creating a better world. It’s a great group of people to run with. Every day you feel inspired and hopeful. 

What has been your greatest challenge?

I don’t really think anything has been challenging when it comes to living zero waste. It’s not like there are levels you have to climb and each one is harder than the last. It’s all a bunch of teeny, tiny habits you alter just slightly. 

Like bringing my own cup to get coffee instead of a takeaway cup. That doesn’t take any more time. It’s just remembering to throw a cup in my bag before I leave. Super simple! It’s just a slightly altered habit.

What is one important lesson you’ve learned running GZW?

I think it’s easy to try and please everyone. No one likes getting nasty comments or emails. When you receive pushback, it can be easy to cave or adjust who you are or the way you write. 

I definitely kept tweaking who I was in the beginning. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to make sure I appealed to more people.

But, then I realized you can only be real and you can only be you. Honesty is everything. 

I feel very fortunate, being an actor almost my whole life, I have incredibly thick skin. (I think troll comments are hilarious.) It’s really conditioned me to not be afraid of who I am. If you don’t like me or my blog you can leave. I’m not going to change. 

You’re a professional actress, full-time blogger, AND you work a 9-5 job. You are the ultimate lady boss hustler! How do you create a healthy work/life balance? 

Ha, ha. Healthy work/life balance. I’m working on that. I try, kind of…. I always use my work lunch break to get out and take a walk. I want to get away from screens and other distractions. Justin, my husband, and I always make a point to put the phones away during dinner so we can enjoy quality time together. Honestly, it might be the only time we see each other all day or night! 

What are your dreams for GZW?

You know, when I started Going Zero Waste all I wanted was to inform my friends and family about small actionable steps they could take for a healthier them and a healthier planet. 

What I didn’t realize is a lot more people than just my friends and family would be interested. The blog has morphed into a much larger project than I ever expected. And, it’s strangely managed to connect all of my passions from growing up. It’s like everything has clicked. 

More than anything, I want to get more into public speaking especially to schools. I think it’s so important to get younger generations aware of what a landfill is, what does recycling really mean, how to compost, and how to cook whole, real food.  

What are your dreams for yourself?

I really hope to live what I like to call the modern homesteader’s dream. I would love to have a little plot of land where I can run everything as efficiently and sustainably as possible. I also want a goat. Like I really, really want a goat. 

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or affirmation you live by?

As I mentioned earlier, when I first started the blog I felt an immense amount of pressure to be perfect. But, the thing is… there’s no perfect. It just doesn’t exist. 

It helped solidify my core message which is:

It’s not about perfection, it’s about making better choices.

Everyone can make better choices. Being an informed consumer is 90% of the battle. 

If you could say one thing to someone who has a dream but is afraid to take the jump, what would it be?

It’s really easy to run to worst case scenarios to talk yourself out of doing something. Don’t forget to look at the best case scenarios too. You can’t predict the future. Don’t waste time trying to figure out what may or may not happen. Work on what you can control and the rest will come later. 🙂 

Check out Kathryn’s blog Going Zero Waste for tips to get you started on waste reduction!

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