Watch now: Bloomington woman shares tips for a zero-waste lifestyle | Home & Garden

BLOOMINGTON – A Bloomington woman wants more people to know that a litter-free, plastic-free life is possible in Bloomington-Normal.

Linda Stroh, a registered nurse, has been living a virtually waste-free life for a few years now. She started down the path after worrying about the chemicals that can be found in some plastics. His concerns were about the products as well as their packaging.

“I looked at my house one day and thought, ‘Where did all this plastic come from? ‘” Stroh said.

The amount of waste generated per person per day in the United States is approaching the 5-pound mark, she said, citing information from the EPA. Reducing that amount for herself helped reduce her stress, she said. She’s also found that switching to durable products like cloth napkins and napkins, as well as homemade products like laundry detergent and toothpaste, has helped her save money.

“It’s very doable; there’s nothing complicated about it,” she said.

To help educate more people about zero-waste alternatives, Stroh has started holding classes, with the next one taking place July 20 at Heartland Community College. She also has one scheduled for August 31 at the Normal Public Library. Along with these classes, she said she would be happy to help other organizations or businesses speak with employees or members.

“A lot of people know they need to do something more, but they don’t know what to do,” she said.

Other changes she has made include refusing plastic utensils in fast food restaurants and bringing her own utensils instead; grow and dry your own herbs; and using only reusable bags.

Bloomington’s Linda Stroh shows off items she couldn’t find a way to recycle at her Bloomington home on Thursday. Stroh is one of a growing number of people who are dedicated to a zero waste lifestyle.


She found resources online and through the Bloomington Public Library. Finding products without plastic packaging can be difficult, Stroh said, so there are some things she needs to order online.

It’s often about finding the right place to buy certain products, she said, noting that smaller businesses seem to be more conscious of their packaging and product decisions.

“You come to your small businesses and they really have our health and our planet in mind,” she said.


Bloomington’s Linda Stroh uses a simple recipe to make laundry detergent in her Bloomington home on Thursday.


Stroh uses the “5Rs” to guide his zero waste lifestyle: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Recycling is far down the list as it further adds to plastic recycling in the economy and the environment, she explained.

Plastic never fully decomposes, and at the end of March it was announced microplastics were found in human blood for the first time, study finds published in International Environment.

Part of Stroh’s methods include using TerraCycle recycling centers, including those at St. Luke’s Syndicate Church in Bloomington and the Subaru dealership in Normal. Subaru has a partnership with TerraCycle nationwide.

St. Luke Rev. Andy Gifford said the church started a recycling program in 1985, starting with recycling paper.

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“It was a way of stewardship for the land,” he said. “(Eventually, we) realized it could not only sustain itself as a program, but generate funds.”

These funds now go to local charities that the church supports.


Bloomington’s Linda Stroh has created a simple to-go silverware pack that eliminates the need to use plastic when dining out.


The garage behind the church houses containers for a variety of single-stream recycling, aluminum cans and other products, sometimes brand specific, including pens, Rubbermaid food storage containers and Burt’s products Bees.

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Resources like recycling centers and Green Top Grocery, where Stroh brings its own containers to hold bulk items, make a zero-waste lifestyle possible in Bloomington-Normal, she said.

Stroh said her zero waste goal simply goes back to the ideals she had when she grew up on a farm. The farm was fairly self-contained and didn’t even have a garbage collection, she said.

“It was like nothing came in plastic,” she said.

To learn more about Stroh’s classes, email him at

Contact Connor Wood at (309) 820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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