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!

10 Charming & Eco-Friendly Airbnb Rentals Around the World

This post was originally published on Breathe Travel.

If you’re anything like me, you travel with a purpose. Whether it be to challenge yourself by breaking your comfort zone, see the many different cultures all over the world, or to go on a much deserved relaxing vacation. Maybe, it’s all three! Being able to see the world is such a privilege, which is why we should do everything in our power to take care of it.

Why not travel consciously to the most amazing, beautiful places? Here are 10 eco-friendly Airbnb rentals around the world to get you started on your conscious travels:

1. Eco-friendly Villa in Natural Park, Fuerteventura, Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, Spain

This beautiful home is located at the foot of an ancient volcano! How cool is that?

The structure of the home is made out of wood with a photovoltaic system (solar power energy ftw!) and water purification for reuse. It doesn’t stop there- the hosts also collect rainwater. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint AND doing it in style, surrounded by the most amazing beaches and lagoons in this charming villa.

2. Authentic Bedouin Experience, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Ever dream of sleeping under the stars in the Valley of the Moon? I’ve got you covered. This Airbnb is for the more adventurous, as you are completely off the grid. There is NO electricity or running water. Just the laughter and hospitality of a Bedouin family.

If you have any plans on going to Jordan, stay here. You’ll never experience something more authentic than this. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions, culture, and daily life of a Bedouin.

3. Off-Grid itHouse, Pioneertown, California, United States

If you ever visit the Los Angeles area, make the trek to this award winning eco-beauty! The house is 100% completely off-grid. It’s powered by solar panels for energy and hot water, nestled remotely in the beautiful California high desert. You’ll be off the grid, in touch with nature and a simpler way of living.

No need to venture out to Joshua Tree, it’s all here right in your backyard! This is the perfect place to humble yourself and soak up the natural beauty around you.

4. Super Cute Retro Airstream, Wimberley, Texas, United States

Talk about glamping at its finest! You might be wondering, where the hell Wimberley, Texas is! It’s about an hour south of Austin, perfect for a romantic getaway from the city. The owners of this adorable airstream really go out of their way to make this property as green as possible.

You’ll be equipped with fresh organic eggs, local organic coffee, and some zero waste, eco-friendly dish soap and laundry detergent. The airstream is not off the grid, but they do use low-wattage light bulbs! I love how eco-conscious this airstream is. Don’t forget to take a dip in the hot tub and enjoy a private, spacious outdoor shower under the trees!

5. Eco-Friendly, Minimalist, VT B&B, Windham, VT, United States

The Stone Wall Inn is surrounded by 12 acres of gardens, 3 ponds, and tons of beautiful vistas. You can take advantage of Vermont’s outdoor adventures such as hiking and kayaking, or you can cozy up by the fire.

What makes this B&B so great? It’s GREEN CERTIFIED! The b&b is heated entirely by natural sources (wood and solar) and utilizes reclaimed wood and construction materials, earth-friendly cleaning products, natural linens, the list goes on. The Stone Wall Inn really goes above and beyond to make your stay as accommodating and eco-friendly as possible.

6. Explore Rural South France & Coast, Feuilla, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Is your heart singing with wanderlust right now? This beautiful homestay in the countryside of France sits on the edge of the wine making village of Feuilla. Yes. You read it right. WINE! You’ll get the best of both worlds surrounded by breathtaking views of mountains and beaches.

La Rassada is an eco-friendly property built using natural materials such as hemp for insulation, lime render, and eco-paints. There’s solar hot water, indirect solar heating, a biodynamic filtered spring water system, and everything is either recycled or composted. The host is also known for her mouth-watering delicious breakfast made with local and/or organic produce!

You’ll be happy, comfortable, and traveling green! As the host says, “Being “eco” definitely does NOT mean we compromise on comfort!!!”

7. Rainforest Tree House w Hot Springs, Cooper, Alajuela, Costa Rica

This handcrafted treehouse is nestled deep in the jungle, where you’ll be surrounded by monkeys, exotic birds, butterflies, and other types of wildlife. Guests also get 24-hour access to the 12 natural hot and cool spring pools. This Airbnb is definitely off the beaten path, but only 45 minutes away from great tourist activities and destinations like volcano hikes, ziplines, and the La Fortuna Waterfall.

Plan to spend a good amount of time here, as most guests regret not staying long enough. You’ll never want to leave!

8. Friendly & Central Eco-Hostel, Reykjavík, Capital Region, Iceland

Want to see the Northern Lights? Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon? Say no more. This award-winning and eco-certified hostel is where you belong. It’s located in the heart of downtown Reykjavík, walking distance from most of Reykjavík’s bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants!

The staff here are also known to be super helpful and friendly. Their aim is to encourage “a style of traveling that increases people’s knowledge of their environment, concern for nature and respect for the cultural values of cities and towns in all parts of the world.” Definitely sounds like an eco-winner!

9. Farm View Cottage, Montagu, Western Cape, South Africa

This charming cottage has everything you could ever ask for. Stunning views, hot springs, endless amounts of wine, beautiful hikes, and if you’re after the Big Five, you’ll be nearby some of the finest game farms!

The cottage is situated on an organic farm, where you will be invited to feast on local produce. You’ll also be provided with home-made, natural shower products! Montagu was voted Town of the Year in 2012, not only for its gorgeous views, beautiful architecture and excellent hot springs- but for the kindness and hospitality of the local people.

10. Natural Life At Tiny Cottage, Sakuho, Minamisaku District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

This minimalist tiny cottage in Japan’s beautiful countryside was handmade by the owner and his friends. It’s completely off the grid- powered by solar energy panels and there is no running water. Have no fear, there’s a public bath nearby!

If you love cooking, this cottage is for you. You can buy and eat organic foods made by local farms! This tiny way of living is such a unique experience. There is no doubt you’ll feel inspired and refreshed by the stunning views of mountains, singing birds, and the smell of fresh, crisp air.