My name is Katia, I’m 27 years old and I’m a new mom living in a new city. I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I was blessed with incredible beaches just a few minutes from my home. Some of my regular activities at the beach included picking up trash. My mom, from the time I was a young girl, instilled in me the awareness and desire to be environmentally conscious, leading me to frequently perform beach clean-ups, among other eco-friendly activities. I grew up vegetarian, and although as a small child I didn’t really question it, I was eventually old enough to comprehend the full extent to which being a vegetarian positively impacted not only my body but the animals and environment as well. While I am passionate about sustainability, I am by no means perfect in living a fully sustainable life. I try to do better every day as I learn new ways to be zero-waste. Making certain lifestyle changes can be challenging, but it’s rewarding and can be fun…who doesn’t like a fun challenge?

I am thrilled to have partnered with Zero Waste because it pushes me to improve and enhance my own commitment to sustainability and provides an educational platform with which I can share the things I am learning along the way in the hopes that we, as a community, can learn and grow together. Our planet needs us to do better.


UpCircle Coffee Face Scrub

Microbeads, made from polyethylene, are a kind of microplastic found in many cosmetic products, namely, facial soaps and scrubs. Essentially, this means you’re washing your face with plastic (ew) as well as contaminating the environment (double ew)! Because these microbeads are smaller than a grain of sand, they cannot be filtered by sewage treatment facilities (much less recycled), so they end up in our rivers and oceans. We can’t see the millions of microbeads left behind when people use these products, but they are surely polluting the marine environment.

Fortunately, there are alternative products we can use. The coffee face scrub by UpCircle is one of my absolute favorite products! Other than being a sustainable product — it’s made from repurposed coffee grounds — it leaves my face feeling incredibly smooth. There are very few facial products that nourish my face the way this product does. Trust me, it’s the face scrub you never knew you needed. But now you know. You can thank me later.


UpCircle Face Moisturizer

Cleansing and moisturizing are the key components to maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Moisturizers not only increase the skin’s water content, but also protect the skin and encourage an orderly shedding process that makes the skin appear more smooth. The number of moisturizers on the market is astounding and most claim to have properties that no other moisturizer has. But not all of them have what it takes to set them apart in other aspects that matter – their environmental and social impact.

Deeply hydrating, fast-absorbing, 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free, sustainably packaged, reused, and repurposed…just a few of the elements to expect from UpCircle’s face moisturizer. It’s made with finely-ground powder of discarded argan shells, minimizing waste from the argan oil industry. Furthermore, you can refill and reuse this product while saving 20 percent with every refill. How cool is that! It’s better for you AND for the world.


Khala Cloth Beeswax Food Wraps

If you’re like me, taking sandwiches or snacks wherever you go, and detest dealing with plastic wrap when covering food jars, this product is perfect for you! Whether you use it as a substitute for single-use plastic bags or plastic wrap, it’s going to exceed your expectations. Not to mention, it will last much longer than any of the aforementioned (about a year or more), and there are no environmental repercussions.

Like plastic grocery bags, single-use plastic bags and other sandwich bags are made with a product known as “film” in the recycling industry. Film is clear, thin plastic made of either LDPE (low-density polyethylene), which corresponds to the recycling #4, or HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which corresponds to the recycling #2. Although some companies claim their plastic bags are reusable (in theory, they might be), almost no curbside recycling programs accept plastic bags. So what happens when you’re done using your plastic bags? The waste from these plastic bags that end up in landfills is more than the amount recycled. The simplicity and ease of beeswax food wraps coupled with their environmental pros make this an indisputable must. So why not simply avoid plastic bags altogether?


Sustain Yourself Tinted Lip Balm

The amount of chapstick and other lip balms that I have used, lost, bought again, and never finished in my lifetime, had they been made of biodegradable or compostable materials, would have been enough to fertilize at least a small compost. Unfortunately, they more than likely added to the plastic pollution that contaminates our planet. Alas, we live and we learn (and grow and become more ethical consumers).

The multipurpose tinted lip balm from Sustain Yourself is not only, well, multipurpose (it can be used as a cheek stain and eyeshadow as well as lip balm!), it is also biodegradable! Handcrafted from a small business using nourishing ingredients to repair and hydrate chapped lips, this lip balm sets itself apart from the get-go: the first thing I noticed when I got mine was the size of the tube — it’s bigger than conventional lip balm tubes which I find fantastic, especially if you are also using it as eyeshadow and cheek stains.


U-Konserve Stainless Steel Container

I think we can all agree that single-use plastic is the worst. But even reusable plastic is not ideal either. Seems pretty ironic that there is still such a high demand for plastic…so what can we, on an individual level, do to change this? Buy little to no plastic, of course! There are plenty of alternatives, we just need to find them and switch our consumer habits to fit our needs, as well as the planet’s.

U-Konserve’s toxic-free, round stainless steel containers are perfect to store kids’ snacks or your own. They’re light, they won’t shatter if they fall (like glass containers), and they have a silicone lid that further eliminates plastic. They come in different sizes too! Meal prepping, leftover storing or on-the-go snacks are all covered with this must-have product.


The Earthling Co. Reusable Food Covers

Growing up, although my mom mostly used glassware of all sizes to store leftovers or for meal preps, the covers were usually plastic. And the gosh darn covers were always getting lost or mismatched and finding the correct size for the containers was an ongoing, frustrating challenge. Looking back now, I know how much my mom would’ve appreciated having these reusable food covers as alternatives.

The Earthling Co. reusable food covers are made of food-grade silicone and come in various sizes. They’re stretchy and fit over bowls, jars, plates, cups, cans, food halves, etc. They’re spillproof and should last forever! Game. Changer. Period.


Totally Taylored Reusable Paper Towels

Full disclosure: for some reason (i.e. convenience) paper towels are probably the number one product in your household that is difficult to substitute. I, personally, feel the same icky feeling in my stomach every time I use disposable paper towels as I do when I buy single-use plastic. It’s so wasteful! But, seemingly, much cheaper and more convenient than reusable paper towels…or is it?

Americans spend $5.7 billion dollars on paper towels in a single year! That’s pretty insane, in my opinion. You can save that money and invest it in these reusable paper towels made with upcycled fabric and bamboo terry cloth. You can save money AND save the planet. That’s a win-win if you ask me!


Guppyfriend Microplastic Washing Bag

This is probably one of the products I am most excited about because it is new to me. I love learning new things! Did you know that with each clothes wash, innumerous microfibers from synthetic textiles make their way from washing machines into rivers, lakes and oceans? I sort of knew this but also didn’t know the extent of this. These microfibers become harmful once in the environment because they concentrate pervasive bacteria and pollutants which are ingested by marine life, and later by humans. These Guppyfriend washing bags are an effective solution to stop microplastic pollution while protecting your clothes at the same time. Another win-win!