Goodreads: An Almost Zero Waste Life
Learn how to start taking steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle (meaning you send no garbage to landfills) through practical tips from Megean Weldon, the Zero Waste Nerd.
Megean Weldon’s An Almost Zero Waste Life is a practical beginner’s guide for those seeking to reduce their plastic use, their carbon footprint, and their overall consumption. Organized into sections such as kitchen, bathroom, shopping and wardrobe, children and pets, housekeeping, and holidays, the book takes readers through a series of steps that encourage them to rethink their habits without shaming them for their lifestyles. The overall message is that it is important to think about our impact on the environment, but no one should feel guilty about not being perfect. Doing something for the environment is better than doing nothing. This upbeat attitude permeates the book, making readers feel like change is really possible.
The book begins with a brief overview of why reducing our consumption, especially of single use plastics, is so important. Most plastic, Weldon explains, never actually gets recycled and even the plastic that does has a limited lifespan before it ends up in the environment to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. The information is admittedly general, but Weldon probably assumes (reasonably) that the majority of people who pick up a book on going zero waste already know about the environmental crisis we’re facing–and want to do something about it. So this is not the book to learn more about the environmental nightmare that is plastic. It’s a how-to guide on taking personal responsibility for the environmental factors we have some control over.
Weldon takes a practical approach to going zero waste, noting that it is perfectly okay to finish using all the products you have in your house before going out to buy a bunch of fancy new zero waste and no plastic products. Part of reducing consumption is, after all, not simply tossing usable items we already own. She then goes on to encourage readers to rethink what they “need,” to downsize their lives, and then to begin thinking about ways to go plastic free.
The zero waste lifestyle is, Weldon admits, not necessarily easy for everyone. She acknowledges, for instance, that buying in bulk is not always cheaper. So she offers modified tips for various scenarios, noting that if you are not ready to go to your local grocery store with your own glass jar, you can at least consider buying products in paper packages rather than plastic. Weldon never shames readers for not living up to her ideal, but tries to give a way for everyone to participate in being a little greener.
A lot of the tips Weldon offers will likely be common sense to many. And, of course, readers could probably find the same information online: Stop using plastic shopping bags. Start carrying reusable produce bags. Skip the straw. Use bar soap and shampoo rather than products bottled in plastic. Cut up old cotton T-shirts for rags instead of buying paper towels. Consider composting. Still, it is handy to have all these tips organized in one place. And readers may also appreciate that Weldon adds her recipes for things like homemade deodorant, shampoo, and shaving cream (for those who want to try).
I think the greatest benefit the book offers is to make people rethink the products they buy. Much of what we consume (especially in the U.S.!) is avoidable. We don’t really need to buy as much as we do, and we certainly don’t need to buy as many disposable, one-use plastics as we do. The good news, Weldon notes, is that phasing out these things not only helps the environment, but also can save us money long term. And she is adamant that consumers should use their money to “vote” for green products over harmful ones.
An Almost Zero Waste Life is an excellent, inspirational guide to the zero waste lifestyle for beginners. It makes aspiring towards a zero waste lifestyle seem not only achievable, but also desirable. Some may see zero waste as just another internet trend. But, hopefully, books like this will make everyone start thinking a little more about their consumer practices.