Zero Waste Thru-Hike: Introduction
My name is Kareema, my trail name is Honey, and I am currently doing a zero waste thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for 2022. What is zero waste you ask!?!? It has many definitions, but to me, it means being responsible and conscious of all your actions in order to ensure a better tomorrow for yourself, others, and the planet. I’ve been on a zero-waste journey for five years. I’m far from perfect, but I do my best, in the best way that I can. Some ways I achieve this is by shopping in bulk, using reusables, walking to work, shopping second-hand, and educating myself. Zero waste also allows me to live simply and save money (I can talk more about this in another post)!
Why a Zero Waste Thru-Hike?
As a kid, my favorite movie was Pocahontas. No not because of the romantic love between John and Pocahontas, but because of the love between the Native Americans and the land. “Every tree, rock, and creature has a life, a spirit, and a name.” This line replays in my mind every single day. It’s a reminder that every little thing on this earth is connected to one another. Somewhere along the way, we somehow forgot that.
So every day I strive to get back to that 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 around the world to see the impacts of climate change. Today I am in the Appalachian mountains to study the ecosystem and environment I call home. My hope is to take all that I’ve learned, go to law school, and help create laws to protect our planet. As I hike the 2,000+ miles to Maine, I’m spreading this message in hopes that one of the largest communities, the hiking/ outdoors community, that enjoys nature the most, can help to protect it in every way possible. That’s why I am doing a zero waste thru-hike.
What’s the Plan?
First, for my gear, I used things I already owned and shopped secondhand. This means most of my gear is imperfect and has lots of holes! But that’s okay! I have a needle and thread to patch those right up! Second, I borrowed gear from friends and received a few new pieces as gifts from my family. Most of my gear was shipped and purchased without plastic and some even came in compostable packaging!!
Next, most of my food (oats, rice, lentils, veggies, and trail mix) was pre-purchased in bulk and cooked/dehydrated. I am using biobags (compostable) instead of ziplock bags. My mom has a list of resupply points to ship me boxes of food when needed. I will compost all of my organic material in town, and whatever can’t be, will be shipped home to my home compost bin. At the end of my hike, I will pay to offset all of the carbon caused by my packages. My low waste toiletries are a kula-cloth(pee rag) a bidet, bamboo toothbrush, metal razor, baking soda, survival balm, organic bug spray, tea tree oil, nail clippers, needle and thread, and a diva cup. In town, I will refuse plastics at restaurants and recycle. All of my “non-traditional” recyclables (whatever isn’t recycled traditionally) will be recycled with TerraCycle (shoes, food wrappers, 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! Hopefully, I inspire you to make small but powerful changes in your life! Happy trails !!
Please note: My gear list is not an accurate reflection of 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 coming soon with more information on this!
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