Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin cycled the Pacific Coast in 2007 and noticed two things: There was lots of garbage, and they didn’t miss their “stuff” back home. Thus was born The Clean Bin Project, their competition to see who could buy no new “stuff” and create the least amount of waste in a year.
Rustemeyer says giving up chips and crackers was the hardest part of the project for her — think of all that packaging — but there were definitely humorous moments. “We had some funny interactions with waiters trying to explain why we didn’t want plastic. Eventually, Grant said he had a plastic allergy.” Although they buy stuff now (the project ended July 1, 2009), their waste is still low: just a small trashcan’s worth every few months.
Today, Baldwin and Rustemeyer are inspiring people with their comedic eco-documentary. “We’d seen so many environmental films that left us feeling hopeless, so we wanted to show that living zero waste can actually be fun.” Rustemeyer says that anyone can dramatically reduce their waste and help the planet. “Just start with one change, and when that becomes a habit, you can move on to the next one.”