Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: Zero Waste Home

A few years ago, through the media I heard about a family who threw away only a quart of garbage per year. I had forgotten all about the story until I saw Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home at the bookstore. I thought I might find a few tips on how to live a more environmentally friendly or green lifestyle, but the book turned out to be even better than I had expected.

Johnson reminds readers that having stuff does not equal happiness. She stresses that simplicity creates a "fuller and more meaningful life." She refutes the notion that the zero waste lifestyle is expensive by stating that her family spent 40% less on annual household costs during the first year that they made changes. In addition to the personal benefits of reducing consumption and waste, Johnson points out that the actions each person takes every day affect the world. In places like the United States, we may not see firsthand the effect that our junk has, but that doesn't mean someone else isn't having to deal with the problems.

I recommend this book specifically for the following reasons:
  • Johnson focuses on the 5 Rs - Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Rotting (composting) as a way to prevent waste from reaching landfills.
  • She gives specific examples of changes to make rather than general tips. For example, instead of simply telling readers to use reusable bags at the grocery store, Johnson describes specifically what she takes and how she limits waste when grocery shopping.
  • The resources mentioned throughout the book and at the end are more than enough for anyone who is interested in finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Instead of spending hours looking for these resources, you can find them in one place.
  • Johnson categorizes areas and specific items that most people can eliminate from their lives. While individual needs may differ, her suggestions help the readers think about what they truly need rather than racing to fill their homes with stuff just because everyone else has it.
I'd recommend this book for anyone who is interested in making a change to a simpler lifestyle. While you may not be able to throw away only a quart of garbage per year, even smaller changes can be beneficial.  There are plenty of ideas for simple changes that save money, reduce stress, and improve your health. 

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