Twin sisters Geevie and Sophia Wood are both students at the University of Minnesota. Although they have followed zero waste lifestyles for about a year, the two have always aspired to live sustainably.
“When we were little, we used to take a little wagon around the block and pick up garbage,” said Geevie Wood, a sophomore studying interior design. “We just thought it was fun. I don’t think many other kids did that, but we just liked doing it to help the community.”
Before transferring to the University, both Geevie and Sophia began their college careers at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where they learned that other cities were not as environmentally conscious as the Twin Cities.
“There was trash all the time. We would pass plastic bottles on the street … It made us feel horrible," said Sophia Wood, a sophomore studying global studies.
"There was only one compost bin, and we would freeze all our leftover food from the dorm, and bring it there every week,” Geevie said.
After seeing other bloggers and Instagrammers share zero waste content online, Geevie and Sophia transitioned to a zero waste lifestyle around one year ago — they now avoid plastics, use reusable products, buy food in bulk and make their own body products, among other techniques to slash the amount of trash they produce.
The two sisters have turned that interest into @sustainyoself, an Instagram account with over 8,000 followers, and an accompanying blog (sustainyoself.wixsite.com/sustainyoself). In their social media posts, Geevie and Sophia share tips and tricks for zero waste and plant-based living.
“We just put everything we do on there as an example,” Geevie said. “We’re not trying to tell people how to live their lives. We’re just showing them how it can be done.”
Amber Haukedahl, a Minneapolis-based Instagrammer (@zerowasted.mn) and blogger (zerowasted.net), has turned to social media to both help others towards zero waste living and find solutions for her own lifestyle.
“I’ve been communicating with such wonderful people from all over the world … It allows me to tell people what I’m doing so they can get value out of that, but also I can learn about what they’re doing,” Haukedahl said. “I discovered Lush through Instagram, for example, which sells unpackaged shampoo, conditioner and lotion bars.”
The twins are also cautious to not project a perfect image on social media — they’ll note when something has to be thrown away or if they make a mistake.
“Zero waste isn’t about giving up everything in your life. People think it’s very restrictive, but it’s not true,” Sophia said. “You can’t just stop using the things you need in your life, like medication and contacts, and I think just living the way you can with sustainability in mind is the best way to go about it.”
Earth Day is this Sunday, and while Geevie and Sophia intend to recognize it, they’ll celebrate the day with some hesitation.
“It seems weird to have one day out of the year when you celebrate the Earth. It’s good, but Earth Day should be every day,” Geevie said.
Beyond reducing the amount of waste that they produce, zero waste living has influenced other aspects of Geevie and Sophia’s lives. Sophia, for example, switched to studying global studies from interior design.
“Living zero waste has also helped us financially because we used to be so materialistic. Whenever we would go to the checkout, we would always get one little thing — an impulse buy,” Sophia said. “We’ve stopped that. We’ve adapted to a vegan lifestyle … But I think all of these tiny changes have made us happier and healthier, and I feel like I’m finally contributing to society.”
For zero waste newcomers, Geevie and Sophia emphasize the importance of reusable items, like reusable coffee cups, jars and grocery bags and buying quality over quantity.
“You can’t make new habits without changing the way you think, so I would say do your research. You have to know what plastic is in order to know why you should be avoiding it,” Sophia said.
The biggest benefit of living zero waste for Geevie and Sophia? Crafting a lifestyle that matches their ethics and values.
“I always said I cared about the environment … But I never really did anything to live that way. We do feel like we’re doing everything we can,” Geevie said. “We totally feel like we have a purpose, and it’s so liberating being so conscious.”