There’s a popular meme that zero-waste warriors share—one part showing a pile of bananas and oranges with the caption “natural, biodegradable and robust packaging”; and the other, cut, peeled and shrink-wrapped fruit with the words “modern, hygienic packaging”. It’s the grim reality of how much energy we will consume and the garbage we will generate just to save ourselves those 30 seconds spent peeling an orange.
And this is why, over the last few years, green warriors, zero-waste practitioners and urban minimalists have started consuming more consciously, limiting the garbage they send to landfills. Many zero-waste warriors pose proudly on Instagram with a jam jar (reusable glass, of course)—it holds all the non-biodegradable dry waste they have produced in a year after reusing and composting, swapping paper and plastic for greener alternatives.
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If you are wondering how to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle and reach that jam-jar state of being, there are two new books to get you started—The Everyday Eco-Warrior: 110 Easy Tips For A Zero-Waste Life and (Im)perfectly Zero Waste: A No-Nonsense Guide To Living Sustainably In India (Hachette India). The authors, Srini and Shubhashree, are, expectedly, zero-waste warriors and sustainable living proponents who draw inspiration from the use-everything cultures practised by many older Indian communities.
In their books—which might have served the earth better as e-books or a website with how-to videos and articles—they suggest making simple changes to eliminate the daily bad habits that multiply into damage to the environment.
The Everyday Eco-Warrior is a list of—as the title suggests—110 changes you can incorporate into your lifestyle over time to create new habits, minimise waste, and eventually contribute to transforming the world. Some of the changes they advocate are as simple as planning meals to prevent wastage, replacing plastic biros with fountain pens, supporting hyperlocal businesses, or fixing leaky taps. For the more dedicated changemakers, they suggest plogging, making your own eco-bricks, and getting involved with local zero-trash initiatives and governance. It’s as much a handy guide for creative problem-solving as it is a call to action to save the earth.
(Im)perfectly Zero Waste goes into the details of India’s garbage problem, the impact on health, possible solutions such as bioremediation, the circular economy, plastic pollution and more, much of it sounding like a high school environmental science textbook. It’s a statement against excessive consumerism, exhorting readers to “simplify, cut down on consumption, buy what you need and say no to the things that you don’t need”.
Srini and Shubhashree make a case for a zero-waste lifestyle by pointing to every aspect of our daily social and cultural choices and providing ideas for alternatives. Through their lens, trying to reduce waste doesn’t have to be a dreary existence of daily sacrifice and frugality. Instead, they say, finding creative ways to reuse or refashion items, seek alternatives, and use one’s skills and hands to make things for oneself can be fun and energising.
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