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Zero Waste - A Review

“It’s not about recycling anymore. It’s about wasting less.” ~ Shia Su

For Plastic Free July inspiration, I recently read Zero Waste: Simple Life Hacks to Drastically Reduce Your Trash by Shia Su. An easy read, the book provides practical advice on going zero waste and explains how one can go zero waste room by room. Su also clarifies why one should go zero waste by sprinkling facts about plastics throughout the book. Sometimes the tips are too rudimentary, but even then, they serve as good reminders.

I greatly appreciated how the author addressed several lesser-known concerns. She urges one to choose products that are ethically sourced as well as environmentally sustainable. Another complicated issue is drinking water. One of the big villains among single-use plastics is bottled water. Tap water is usually safer than bottled water, but that isn’t always the case. Tap water is increasingly suspect due to lead leaching from aging pipes or PFAS chemical contamination. Su encourages to have one’s water tested first if unsure of its safety.

Su also provides recipes for cleaners and cooking to help avoid disposable packaging and food waste. Because single-use packaging is so prevalent for food, she goes in-depth about using one’s containers and bags for food at the grocery store and even providing the quantity of various bulk foods that each size jar can hold. She also touches upon composting. My main critique is that some of the recommendations are not feasible for suburbia in the U.S. For example, local food co-ops and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions are often only available near agricultural areas while zero-waste bulk stores and ethnic markets in dense urban centers.

Shia Su in her book Zero Waste clearly expresses how choosing minimalism is how an individual can have direct control. That through one’s actions, one can make a difference. By refusing single-use items and purchasing sustainably-made products, you’re demanding less plastic and less waste. Your actions might also inspire your neighbor’s. Imagine: If all 1.3 billion individuals in the developed nations started this zero-waste journey, we would then change the world for the better.

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