My name is Kareema, my trail name is Honey, and I am currently doing a zero waste hike on the Appalachian Trail for 2022. What is zero waste you ask!?!? It has many definitions, but to me it means being responsible and aware of all your actions to ensure a better future for yourself, others and the planet. I have been on a zero waste approach for 5 years. I’m far from perfect, but I try my best, the best I can. Some ways to do this are to buy in bulk, use reusable items, walk to work, buy used, and educate myself. Zero waste also allows me to live simply and save money (I’ll talk about it in another post)!
Why a Zero Waste hike?
As a kid, my favorite movie was Pocahontas. Not because of the romantic love between John and Pocahontas, but because of the love between Native Americans and the land. “Every tree, rock and creature has a life, a spirit and a name.” This line replays in my head every day. It’s a reminder that every little thing on this earth is connected to one another. Somewhere along the way, we kind of forgot that.
So every day I strive to come back to this place. In high school, I researched the impacts of human consumerism on wildlife. In college, I took courses in geology and sustainability. As an adult, I travel the world to see the impacts of climate change. Today I am in Appalachia to study the ecosystem and the environment that I inhabit. My hope is to take everything I’ve learned, go to law school, and help create laws to protect our planet. As I travel the 2,000+ miles to Maine, I spread this message in the hope that one of the greatest communities, the most nature-loving hiking/outdoor community, may help protect her in any way possible. That’s why I’m doing a zero waste hike.
What is the plan?
First, for my equipment, I used things I already owned and bought second-hand. That means most of my gear is flawed and has lots of holes! But it is okay! I have a needle and thread to patch them up! Second, I borrowed gear from friends and received a few new parts as gifts of my family. Most of my gear was shipped and purchased plastic free and some even arrived in compostable packaging!!
Then most of my foods (oats, rice, lentils, vegetables and trail mix) were pre-purchased in bulk and cooked/dehydrated. I use biobags (compostable) instead of ziplock bags. My mother has a list of supply points to send me boxes of food if needed. I will compost all my organics in town, and anything that cannot be will be shipped to my house in my home compost bin. At the end of my hike, I will pay to offset all the carbon caused by my packages. My low waste toiletries are kula cloth (pee cloth), bidet, bamboo toothbrush, metal razor, baking soda, survival balm, organic insect repellent, oil of tea tree, a nail clipper, a needle and thread and a diva mug. In town, I will refuse plastics in restaurants and I will recycle. All my “non-traditional” recyclables (what is not traditionally recycled) will be recycled with terracycle (shoes, food packaging, etc.). Again, my goal is not to be perfect, but to do the best I can!
Feel free to follow my journey on this blog, YouTube and Instagram! I hope I inspire you to make small but powerful changes in your life! Good road !!
Please note: My material list does not accurately reflect my base weight or price. Buying used gear only cost me $800 and my base weight is only 12 pounds! A video/blog will be available soon with more information on this subject!
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