About the author

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My name is emily jean mccollister.

I currently live and write in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am a poet who does her best to live a sustainable, earth-conscious, zero-waste life. I received my BA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Louisiana State University in 2016. Since then, I have worked as an event coordinator, booking agent, barista, barista trainer, social media consultant, content creator, freelance writer, and editor. The things I enjoy the most are reading, writing, and traveling.

I fell into waste-conscious living via a series of happy accidents. Working as a professional barista in specialty coffee, I was taught about seed-to-cup coffee sourcing. At the same time as my first barista job, I was taking businesses classes at LSU (I have a minor in entrepreneurship). I took a social business course where I learned about 'the end of the supply chain.’ Beginning to think about where items (food, clothes, products) came from and whether their origin was cloaked in unethical labor conditions or environmental hazards, I began to purchase items more mindfully.

In June of 2017, I made a promise to myself to not buy new products that weren’t ethically/environmentally sustainable. Around this time, I learned about zero-waste living. My mind had been questioning, “where do items come from?” but had yet to ask, “where do they go when we’re done with them?”

Once I was exposed to information about landfills, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, I knew that I had to make a new promise to myself: to do my very best not to personally contribute to this issue. As a result, I began living a waste-conscious life where I tried to produce very little trash.

I had no intention of blogging about this. However, at the time, there was only one other person in my city even talking about zero-waste/waste-conscious living. After receiving a lot of positive response to my Instagram stories about this kind of life, I decided to blog!

I began editing for a magazine called Zero-Waste Story Time via blogger, Zeroing In. Reading all of this content as an editor helped me examine my personal choices more critically and begin to think about the zero-waste movement through the lens of intersectionality and environmental justice.

Here we are today: I’ve been doing my best to live a personal low-waste life where I create little trash and conscious recycling since August of 2017. I do my best to use reusables, source sustainably, buy intentionally, pursue minimalism and be wholistic in my approach. As a result, I went vegan in my diet.

I understand that there are barriers to pursuing a zero-waste lifestyle. I also understand that “zero-waste” may not be the most helpful term as no person produces absolutely zero waste! Everyone produces waste because we live in a linear economy designed to make waste.

The responsibility should never be placed on the individual. However, we can choose (if we have the knowledge, access to resources and time to do so) to pursue personal sustainable practices that help promote a circular economy and reject modern consumerism.

Together, we can create change!

Photo by Raegan Labat

Photo by Raegan Labat