In case you haven’t heard, April is environmental awareness month. Now, for many people, that just means it’s a time of the year to scramble together tax documents and maybe go outside to catch a photo of this year’s #superbloom. Well, that’s all well and good, but let’s take a minute to talk about why paying a little bit more attention to the environment is a good thing:
-you’ll be helping to do your part in reducing the amount of trash around the world (which, quite literally, has no place to go and while you may not have to personally deal with it in your lifetime, generations after you will).
-you’ll be improving the lives of wildlife affected by trash; have you seen the gnarly pictures of whales that get washed up on shore with (literal) tons of garbage in their stomachs because they thought it was food?
-you’ll be improving your own health; a lot of processed foods come in single-use plastic, so when you opt for foods that lack said packaging, you’ll likely have the opportunity to buy ingredients that you know more about where they come from (e.g. local organic vegetables instead of imported ones that’re oftentimes sprayed with pesticides).
-you’ll be saving money; some stores offer discounts if you bring in your own cups, others give you cash or discounts for returning packaging, etc.
-your friends and family will think you’re cool; okay, maybe this isn’t the case for everybody, but even if you opt to do a fraction of the things discussed in this book, you’ll be reducing your own carbon footprint/overall impact on the planet . . . and that’s worth celebrating!
Just in case the intro didn’t get you excited, let me share why I’m so stoked about Erin Rhoads’ new book, “Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less.” It feels like it’s been a recent change where being “eco-friendly” is socially-cool. I remember growing up and thinking people who didn’t use straws at restaurants and plastic bags at grocery stores were just weird. That is until my local stores and restaurants started to charge for said plastic bags and withhold plastic straws entirely (or worse, in my opinion, serve paper straws that wilt the very sight of liquid). Now, not only is it “cool” to be eco-friendly, but it also saves quite a bit of money over time; where I live, it’s ten cents per grocery bag if you don’t bring your own, and at three bags a week, that’s a little over $15 a year just in plastic grocery bags most people throw away anyway.
Erin’s book “Waste Not” is anything but a hippie trend and the advice she shares is the furthest thing from unsustainable practices. Upfront, she acknowledges that a zero-waste lifestyle is unattainable for most people. Living in a big city, I can attest to this. Ideally I’d buy all of my produce from local growers and farmers, but the reality is I’m hardly ever free on the weekends when my town hosts farmers markets, and moreover, sometimes it’s way too expensive to buy those organic strawberries when the GMO (genetically modified) ones are on the display at Vons when I’m shopping for groceries at 10pm.
Erin’s book “Waste Not” is anything but a hippie trend and the advice she shares is the furthest thing from unsustainable practices.
I’m not perfect. Most people aren’t. But what this book tries to get at are practices the everyday person can incorporate to make a little bit of difference in their world. Erin, herself, was a non-believer that small changes in daily habits could actually affect the environment, that is until she was homesick and turned on The Clean Bin Project. I haven’t had the chance to see it myself, but from her description of it (plus lots of Netflix documentaries I’ve seen over the years), I can imagine how impactful it was to watch loads of trash negatively affecting so many different places in the world . . . and for what, convenience?
But what this book tries to get at are practices the everyday person can incorporate to make a little bit of difference in their world.
In her introduction, Erin points out that “being aware of (her) plastic consumption led to a new-found awareness of the benefits of living with less of it.” She saved time by opting for fresh food instead of deciphering ingredients on labels (something I’m doing more of since my latest health diagnosis). She saved more money by being more aware of what she was spending money on (goodbye quick coffee on the way to work in a disposable cup, hello homemade coffee in reusable cup). She also got more involved in her own community and started to take the time to “indulge in moments rather than things.”
The book is organized into three parts: tools, tips, and tricks. “Tools” is basically a series of explanations that talks about waste, why it’s a big deal, and how anyone can make an impact. “Tips” is one of my favorite parts of the book, because it includes lots of Erin’s tried and true DIYs to become your own version of a zero-waste expert. Finally, “Tricks” is how to adapt eco-friendly habits when you’re away from home, like at the office or while on a trip.
Initially I thought that this book might be like other eco-based ones I’ve come across that basically shame people for living their lives. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Erin really goes out of her way to share how she transitioned away from things like single-use plastics, cleaning products with harmful products (the same goes for a lot of beauty products as well), fast fashion, and impulsive-buying.
Erin really goes out of her way to share how she transitioned away from things like single-use plastics, cleaning products with harmful products (the same goes for a lot of beauty products as well), fast fashion, and impulsive-buying.
“Waste Not” goes beyond any kind of Marie-Kondo organization techniques – it teaches people how to live sustainably with the resources that they have. If you can’t afford to buy all locally-sourced produce, maybe you can opt for certain things like the dirty dozen to just be organic. If you haven’t heard of the “dirty dozen,” they’re basically a list of fruits and vegetables that many nonprofits claim have the highest amounts of pesticides when grown conventionally, compared to organic methods. You can read more here and here. Inversely, the “clean fifteen” (this year, these are the ones that made the cut) are the ones with the least amount of pesticides because most have skins or coverings that are discarded before they’re consumed.
I really like that this book covers all aspects of ways to live with less waste. Whether you live by yourself in an apartment, or a home with kids and animals, there’s advice for everyone. Some of my favorite DIYs and tips from “Waste Not” include:
-the “repair, borrow, or buy” chart that’s very handy to consult if you’ve got something that’s broken and you’re not sure whether or not to invest in a replacement
-how to cook with food scraps (instead of just haphazardly throwing them away)
-how to compost (something I’ve always been intrigued about doing, but upon a quick google search, I didn’t think it was something I could invest the time or money in; but now I know how to do it cost-effectively because Erin documents how to do it from start to finish WITH pictures
-how to make at-home beauty products (because the reality is so much of the stuff we use is chalked-full of chemicals, which, when you apply to your face and/or body, it goes directly into your skin, which trickles into your body, immune system, and overall health)
-creative ways to make and use eco-friendly gift-wrapping (no more single-use paper that just gets thrown away in heaps around the holidays)
-and last but certainly not least, her tips about throwing a low-waste wedding because it’s a great opportunity to incorporate some sustainable practices (like not including decorations that’ll just get thrown away after a few hours), which in the long-run will cut down costs because, as I’m learning, weddings are expensive AF to put together
It feels good to finally start making conscious choices that have the potential to make a positive impact on the environment.
All in all, this book really got me thinking. From the shrink-wrapped produce I have mindlessly thrown into my cart, to the short-term use electronics and disposable beverage containers I’ve amassed in great quantities since high school . . . it feels good to finally start making conscious choices that have the potential to make a positive impact on the environment. I’m so excited to review this title, and if you happen to pick up a copy for yourself (or better yet, get one for yourself and share it with a friend when you’re done), see what tips and tricks you can incorporate into your daily routines.
If you’re curious to learn more about plastic-free practices, check out this website on Plastic Free July, which is a global movement with more than two million participants from over 159 countries. I’ll also be sharing some of my own tips and tricks for reducing my own plastic consumption (inspired by this book and some cool eco-bloggers I’ve come across on the web).
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Book Stats: Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less by Erin Rhoads
Page Count- 270
Binding- Softcover with color photography