Many students are adopting zero waste lifestyles, and you can too

Back to school shopping can be sustainable and easy.

Ames Halvorson scoops cranberries with his older brother at the Tare Market on Wednesday, Aug. 28. The Tare Market focuses on selling sustainably sourced products that help consumers live with less of an impact on the environment.

Jack Rodgers

Ames Halvorson scoops cranberries with his older brother at the Tare Market on Wednesday, Aug. 28. The Tare Market focuses on selling sustainably sourced products that help consumers live with less of an impact on the environment.

Norah Kleven

At Tare Market, back to school looks a little different and definitely requires a lot less plastic. As Minnesota’s first zero waste store, Tare Market caters to an emerging market of eco-conscious consumers – many of them students. 

Amber Haukedahl, co-owner of Tare Market and conservation biologist, says the shop was born from frustration at the lack of eco-friendly shopping options in the Twin Cities. After months of preparation, it opened its doors in April, stocked with sustainably sourced treasures. 

The zero waste movement first gained a following in the ‘90s as a response to growing worldwide pollution. However, a recent Statista study shows that for most Americans, the movement is still under the radar. 

“It has been a movement in other countries for far longer than it’s been a movement in the United States,” Haukedahl said. 

While truly achieving a zero waste lifestyle takes commitment, there are many ways in which students can cut down on their waste production. 

Tare Market specializes in products that can be reused time and time again. Among the market’s most popular items are bamboo toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner bars and reusable face rounds, an alternative to disposable cotton rounds.  

Alexandria Pagones is a senior at the University of Minnesota who started taking steps toward a zero waste lifestyle a year ago upon reading about the Tare Market’s arrival in Minneapolis. 

“[Tare Market] really kind of inspired me to actually take those steps in my life instead of just thinking about it, because it was so close and it made it more accessible for me,” she said. 

Morgan Gasser, a sophomore at the University, said among the easiest lifestyle changes college students can make are sorting recyclables to ensure they are recycled properly and buying food in bulk. 

“People don’t understand that small things add up,” she said. 

Gasser and Pagones both agreed that switching to shampoo and conditioner bars is one of the easiest swaps for students to make. 

“It lasts so much longer, you’re not paying for the packaging and it really honestly saves you money in the long run,” Pagones said. 

For Kate Marnach, co-owner of Tare Market and a University of Minnesota graduate, her first step toward a reduced waste lifestyle occurred before she had even heard the term zero waste. She said investing in a reusable water bottle is among the easiest swaps you can make to reduce your waste production. 

Pagones said it can be a challenging lifestyle to live as it is not yet a common practice – but that shouldn’t stop people. 

“The thing that I always say is you can’t do everything, but everyone can do something,” she said. “Everyone has their area where they can live more sustainably.”