Born and raised in California, Jonathan Levy, or, Zero Waste Guy, has been advocating for minimizing waste in both his private and professional life. Through his social media presence, he challenges individuals to question their consumption practices towards the goal of eliminating waste. 

AAW: What sparked your interest in zero waste? 

JL: I was working on the optimization of product flow through an enormous retail warehouse and felt inundated by all the single-use disposable stuff I came into contact with. I wasn't familiar with Zero Waste at the time, but knew that what I was doing was part of our problem with over-consumption. I wanted to be part of the solution. I left that job to work in solid waste with the thought that analyzing a business's trash can be a valuable tool for them to go higher up in the supply chain to make decisions that would minimize waste.

AAW: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced towards zero waste? 

JL: More and more consumers are getting on board, but we are still facing quite a bit of opposition and push-back from industry who still believe that going zero waste or any form of environmental consulting is optional and a cost burden. In fact, going zero waste saves most businesses money on their hauling expense but also indirect operational costs. 

AAW: How do you see yourself best contributing to the zero waste movement, and how can others best elevate the movement? 

I take a two-pronged approach to zero waste. On a professional level, I will continue to advocate for businesses to make changes that enable them to reduce waste and become more sustainable. I do this through my work, but also as a citizen. In the age of immediate feedback via Twitter and other forms of social media, businesses seem more open than ever to receiving thoughtful feedback from their customers. On a personal level, I advocate for living a zero waste lifestyle on social media and through my blog as Zero Waste Guy. I have found that many people want to reduce waste in their lives and live a more sustainable and ethical life, but don't know how. I do my best to create awareness for zero waste with my friends, family and online and real life communities.  

AAW: What are some of your interests outside of the Zero Waste world? 

JL: I feel like my zero waste switch is always turned on! I love to run and hike, and always find myself picking up litter along the way. I am an avid musician who can play acoustic guitar, bass guitar, upright bass and ukulele. I recently picked up a mandolin and am learning the chord patterns. 

AAW: If you could tell everyone on the planet one thing, what would it be? 

JL: Live more simply and fully. We spend too much time making if/then statements for our lives. "If I get this new job, then I will be happy." "If I make more money, I will buy a new fancy car, then I can show my friends how successful I am." If/then statements are false promises. There will always be someone who is more "successful" or makes more money, so there is no use in attempting to make the quality of your life contingent upon something conditional.


"Making up 5% of the World's population, Americans consume about 30% of all her resources. For those of us here in the United States, we use way more than our fair share of resources. We seem to think that the sign of a healthy economy is our ability to buy as much stuff as possible, regardless of the impact it has on the environment, ourselves and the people around us. Consume less, but when you must, be smart about it. Buy high quality, durable goods that will last a long time. Try to purchase them as local as possible to support your local economy." -Jonathan Levy, Zero Waste Guy


Denise Braun Ryan