Earlier in the year, we covered an article about a restaurant that hadn’t needed to take out the garbage for two years. Now there’s a similar story about a woman who lives her life without producing any trash. She has done so for the past couple years, and she is sharing some tips and advice on how others can follow in her footsteps and live a similar lifestyle.

Her name is Lauren Singer, and it all started by taking an environmental class at NYU. She wanted to protest against companies who harm the environment, and do whatever she could to help it in a big way. You might be quick to compare her to a “hippie” or a “treehugger,” but once you read on about her story, it becomes apparent that we could all be doing some of these things to save our environment. While some of it might seem extreme, other parts of it are really just simple changes that take minimal effort!

Singer’s first big change came when she found herself being hypocritical. When looking in her refrigerator, just about every item was packaged or wrapped in disposable materials. Juice bottles, plastic baggies, milk cartons. Everything! Thus, she decided to eliminate those pesky disposable plastics from her life altogether. A no trash transition like this doesn’t happen in one day. It takes small steps, and many of those steps are fast and easy. Here are some of the major things she did to be successful.

First, she started by removing the unnecessary packaging from her life. Use reusable shopping and produce bags when going to the grocery store. Buy things only in bulk and loose items that don’t have packaging. Moving on to clothes, shop at thrift shops instead of buying new items. It’s surprising what kind of things you can find second-hand. Instead of buying expensive personal care products, she learned to make them herself. It is much cheaper and you know it will only contain simple and healthy ingredients.

Downsizing was also a big part of her transformation. Having less clutter in your house means having less to deal with and less to clean. She sold items she didn’t need and donated clothes she hadn’t worn in years. Another way to make a small but effective change is to simply say no! You don’t need those disposable straws, napkins, or cutlery at restaurants. You can say no to plastic bags, receipts, and even junk mail. Small changes make a big difference.

What are her final thoughts on the matter? She saves money by being prepared with lists and not purchasing new items. She eats better by not consuming packaged, processed foods. And she’s happier, because of being organized, healthier, and stress-free.

Of course, it’s difficult to live a zero waste lifestyle this extreme, but it is easy to do a little bit here and there. A little reduce, reuse, and recycle can make a big difference, especially if you haven’t been doing it in the past. A more environmentally friendly lifestyle will start with a single step.