Book – A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living

Over the last month or so I borrowed numerous books from the library, some of which I will share on here if I found them particularly interesting. The last book I read is actually the first I’m going to share.

A Family Guide To Waste-Free Living by Lauren & Oberon Carter is a book written by an Australian couple and as the name suggests is about living waste-free or low waste when you have a family. I will be perfectly honest and say this book was never on my radar when I went to the library, I went looking for other books which I knew were available and stumbled upon this when the cover caught my attention. As a general rule I shy away from anything that mentions the word “family or mum” I don’t associate our situation (couple, no children) with those terms. If a sewing pattern mentions “mum or mumma” it puts me right off it, I don’t even look at blogs that reference that. This book isn’t just for “families” anyone can take a lot away from this book.

This book is broken into 6 chapters

  • The Basics
  • Food
  • Packaging
  • Around The House
  • Celebrate and Venture Outside
  • Change

The book starts with an introduction chapter into waste is, how you can work out the types of waste and quantities you are producing and before you classify an item as waste consider is there something else you could be doing with it such as reuse or recycle it. It acknowledges that you will never be 100% zero waste but instead aim for as low waste as possible. It discusses the idea that waste free living may incur additional expenses in some instances, but you will be saving in other areas so it kind of all balances out. You know your own budget, you don’t need to do every idea within the book just do what you can within your budget. I think that is very important that the book addresses the financial costs as it is something that we all do consider particularly in the current situation with the costs of living increasing worldwide. The subsequent chapters address how you can minimise your waste around the house both inside and outside, when your away from home and during events such as parties or holidays. The last chapter is about how you can incorporate waste-free living outside your home when you are with others in the community. Ways to have conversations with others so that waste-free living can be considered a normal part of everyday life and not considered to be “different” or a “thing” it just living.

The book actually mentions that a lot of the tips and advice in the book comes from how past generations lived before we had the convivence of supermarkets and shopping malls. Storing food correctly so it lasts, cooking from scratch, using up every bit of food then composting what was left, eating within the season, repairing clothing, making products to be used around the home. The book is full of recipes for food items, cleaning and beauty products. The photos in the book are lovely, they look simple and honest. They create a warm and cozy feeling, a homely feeling.

One issue that is addressed is Legacy Waste. Legacy waste is the waste from items you still have from before you started living waste-free. What do you do with those items when they wear out, loose function or break? Unfortunately, if you can’t reuse or recycle the item legacy waste will result in landfill but don’t feel guilty for that, legacy waste is an opportunity to learn from your past and make different choices for futures purchases or items. Legacy waste is part of the transitioning process to waste-free living.

This book is about living a waste-free life as a family with children. When switching to a waste-free alternatives involving the entire family in the process helps children and all members of family unit understand and adapt to the changes, children might come with ideas you hadn’t thought of. It discusses reusable items that can be used like cloth wipes and nappies (diapers) An area that I will be honest I hadn’t even thought of is how do you live waste-free during illness? It is something that happens to every household. The book discusses on the importance of being prepared in terms of having meals ready in the freezer, buying in bulk so you have items on hand and the importance of maintaining your health to avoid illness. It lists some recipes for some drinks which are comforting when you are sick.

I really enjoyed this book. I was thinking back how the title almost put me off with the word “Family” in it. It has changed my view on reading informative books aimed at families. This book was a gentle read, it wasn’t saying do this, this and this. It is a book full of waste-free ideas or practices that as a family the Carter’s are doing. As I was folding laundry on the balcony looking at our worm farm my brain was ticking. The situation Womble and I are in is unique. We are 2 people independent with disabilities, living on single income, we have no car and are limited to the resources around us. There is no book that covers how to live waste-free in that situation, then it hit me…” Be the book you haven’t read yet!” Take what you have learnt from the different books you have read, try ideas and make the small changes that you can. I sometimes feel like a zero waste or low waste fraudster, I recycle everything that I can but still use 2-6 baby wipes a day because of my OCD. The last chapter in this book mentions leading by example and “you do you” that is exactly what we are doing. We can’t do some of the ideas that different books mention, we don’t have access to the same resources but there is a lot of things we can do. Some things we have already started doing such as the worm farm, there are other changes we are slowly implementing. We can try ideas and figure out what works for us. We can demonstrate you can reduce your waste even if you have a disability or OCD issues or have limited income. Not having access to resources like a farmer’s market or bulk food store doesn’t mean you can’t make choices about what products you buy at the supermarket.

Be the book you haven’t read yet. 


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