The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well By Throwing Away Less

Amy Korst
The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well By Throwing Away Less
2012, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA

Imagine never taking your trash out to the curb. Amy Korst and her husband haven't done it for years. They don't need to; they don't have any. No trash. No trash cans. Zip, nada, none. (Oh there was that one time, when they purchased a sponge, but they were backpacking and needed it to wipe out their dishes so bears in their camping area wouldn't be attracted by the leftover food smell.) Of course, it wasn't always like that for them; they didn't always live trash-free. Committed recyclers and re-purposers, Korst’s ultimate goal was to stop generating garbage completely. For her and her husband that meant sending nothing whatsoever to the landfill, while still enjoying a happy, sane life.

To begin, Korst calculated — by saving and weighing — exactly just how much garbage they actually created. For the average person in the U.S. it's a whopping 3 pounds of landfill-bound trash each day! If you dare, do the math; times that by three hundred million Americans. Almost a billion pounds of trash daily! But it eventually breaks down, right? We think it does, but for the most part, it doesn't. No air, no sunlight. Which means even the innocuous orange peel gets trapped under cover in that big stinky heap until, well, who knows when?

Korst’s next mission was to find out if it was even possible to live a life that was fully trashless and satisfying. Animals and plants do it, nature never wastes anything. But people? Yes! Sure, it takes planning, some conscious decision-making and purchasing, but it doesn't have to take over your life and is much easier than you probably suspect! The Zero Waste Lifestyle shares creative solutions to de-waste your home, travel and office. You can even make your kids and pets less trashy! Practicing the habit of precyling, by asking, "Do I really need this or do I just want it?" before making purchases will stop a lot of trash before it ever even gets in the door. Even if your goals aren't as lofty as being an absolutely no waste creator, small subtractions add up.

Gail Lord is a freelance writer living in Massachusetts. Please send book review copies to 51 North Street, Grafton, MA 01519 or email