How To Go (Almost) Zero Waste: Over 150 Steps to More Sustainable Living at Home, School, Work, and Beyond by Rebecca Grace Andrews
This book turned out to be a huge disappointment. There is so much I don't like about this book. I can go through it giving endless examples & I'll do just that, but first, to keep it simple, you don't need this book. What you need is Google & The Environmental Working Group. The author tells you to go online for virtually everything. You don't need this book. Don't do it. You'll just be adding more waste. So far out of all the Zero Waste books I've read, I loved An Almost Zero Waste Life by Megean Weldon. Even the book has an Eco friendly feel to it. That book is totally worth getting. It is my absolute favorite so far & has earned a spot on my shelf.
At first this book was off to a good start.
In chapter one she argues why we should all try to produce less trash. "The World Counts website cited these statistics: In the first four months of 2020,... 2 million people died from outdoor air pollution,... 1 million died of indoor air pollution... more than 1 million people died from lack of access to clean water." Let's think about that, 4 million people or 1 million people per month died. It got me thinking of the COVID19 situation & it seems to me a polluted planet is the bigger killer. Not that I don't take COVID19 seriously, but it's certainly worth thinking about. The author also briefly discusses recycling & I was glad that she mentioned how recycling isn't as great as folks seem to think it is. After all recycling takes a lot of resources & not everything can be recycled. The best thing to do is to avoid created waste in the first place. Obviously we can't be 100% Zero Waste, but every little thing we do to create less is that much more we are doing to benefit ourselves directly, the health of our planet, & every living thing on our planet.
In the ultra short chapter two she gives 20 excellent swaps you can do to reduce waste.
In the rest of the book she slowly starts to loose me. She pushes going Vegan. That's great if it works for her, but that lifestyle isn't realistic for some of us & I am one of those people. If it works for you, that's wonderful! I was Vegan for many years. My health plummeted. I went AIP & my health improved overnight. I am not exaggerating. My needs aside, my irritation with this goes far beyond the "meat pollutes" diatribe. CFO meats absolutely do pollute. They are horrible. No animal should ever have to live that way. Pasture raised however, does not pollute. Pasture raised is the exact opposite. It is good for the environment. The planet needs pasture raised animals! That is the natural way of life. What kills me is the author mentions pasture raised & still insists the planet is better off if you don't eat any meat, even pasture raised. It's biased. I live next to a huge farm (by huge I'm referring to the amount of land) that raises beef cattle. They are all pasture raised. It's beautiful. It doesn't smell. The animals are never given grain. They rotate happily from pasture to pasture. They are not crowded. I walk past them in the morning, see the steam rising off their backs, listen to the sound of their breathing, the sound as they bite some grass & chew, while calmly watching me as I walk by. I've witnessed them giving birth in the pasture. They even play as they get older. How gently they are cared for. I am fortunate to have such a beautiful view from my own pastoral farm. If you are wondering, I do not raise meat animals. I do run my own eco farm full time. Nothing is more beautiful or backbreaking than living on the land.
She discusses going organic, avoiding GMO's, supporting local farmers markets, cooking your own meals, using reusable bags, changing the cleaning products you use, etc. All good things. But remember, go online for in depth ideas & suggestions. Insert eye roll here.
She mentions the importance of avoiding fragrance/parfum. I am constantly looked at like a nut when I avoid a product that contains fragrance. Here's why, "...'fragrance" can be a combination of 3,1000-plus chemicals." Need I type more?
I got the impression the author doesn't even practice a lot of what she preaches. She makes a suggestion then tells you that you can find ideas online. The entire book is like this. In one spot it was blatantly obvious that a shampoo bar she mentioned, she only used once or twice. In it she said "...my hair felt a bit gritty as I rinsed..." Meaning, she used it once to try it, but didn't like it. Why even mention a product you don't like? I got the distinct impression that the author doesn't use bar shampoo. I know I don't. I hate it. I have super long straight hair. I wash it every other day with the bulk sized Kiss My Face Whenever brand of shampoo that I subscribe & save to. Not Zero Waste, but a step up to be sure. Yeah, you can totally use bar shampoo if you like it, go for it.
I don't mean to bash at something I practice & believe in, but this book really rubbed me the wrong way. I've been living a greener life for nearly 2 decades. I have already done so many of these changes. They didn't all happen at once. It was gradual. Just like eating organic was gradual. Run out of something, replace it with organic or green. Eventually over the years you'll have made a complete 360 of your life & you wont even really notice it until you go to someone else's house & see the endless plastic containers, the constant trash, the noise & the chaos. A Zero Waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with Minimalism. We are bombard everyday to buy, buy, buy. With Fast Fashion, new electronics, "keeping up with the Jones's" etc. When you come right down to it, it's pretty stupid. People have so much stuff, they buy storage space to store more stuff. It just keeps piling up. Then with all the toxins in our foods, air, & water, our health is going down the toilet too. For our physical & mental health, minimalism & zero waste are so much healthier for ourselves & our planet.
I also want to point out that Zero Waste or Minimalism is hardly for the "privileged." You spend so much less, because you buy so much less. Even if you go organic, you'll still have more money because you will be reusing products, cooking at home, gardening, mending, upcycling, etc. I am not rich. Oh my goodness no. Not even close. I am only mentioning this because I noticed the P word in a amazon review & was rather shocked by it. Spending less doesn't mean spending more unless you choose to spend more!
If you've read this far, thanks for that! If you really are itching for a Zero Waste book, do yourself a favor & get the book I mentioned at the very beginning of this review. It's totally non judgy. The author offers realistic ideas & even recipes all in a really cute book. This book on the other hand, is just a repetitive slog telling you over & over to go to so & so website for whatever the author is suggesting you do. No recipes, no fun. Totally uninspiring. If you still are curious about this book, you might want to see if your library carries it first. If you actually like it, then you might want to buy it.
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