Books & Resources

Book review: 101 Ways to go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg

There are so many great eco-friendly books out there about how to live more sustainably.  I thought it would be a good to share the highlights on the blog.

First up is Kathryn Kellogg with ‘101 Ways to go Zero Waste’.  Published in 2019, this book is jam-packed with tips for greener living. 

One kilner jar

Kathryn herself is inspirational. Her dedication to sustainable living knows no bounds. Remarkably, she managed to reduce her entire non-degradable rubbish over two years so it fit into a 450ml kilner jar. 

If you’d like to find out more, Kathryn also runs her own eco-friendly lifestyle website where she shares ideas and experiences. It’s well worth checking out. Details are at the end of this post.

The ripple effect

You might think getting to the stage of being fully zero waste is a big ask for most of us in today’s world. It is. But there’s no reason why you can’t start small. Do a few things here and see how it feels. What can you live with and what are you struggling with – it’s all a learning curve.

Kathryn’s book makes you think outside the box and become even more aware of how to do lots of everyday things a bit differently. Or at least try out more sustainable ideas. There’s really nothing to lose.

Once you start I reckon you’ll see a ripple effect. That in itself is motivating. One place to keep an eye on is your Council wheelie bin. I guarantee once you start making swaps and changes, you’ll notice that your bin contents really decrease.  Even if you never get near kilner jar territory, having a less full wheelie bin is progress!

Some book highlights

There are loads of different tips for kitchen and cooking, bathroom and personal care, travel and general day-to-day eco-friendly living. Some of the tips are fairly obvious and well known like swapping single use plastic water bottles for a sturdy non-plastic reusable alternative. Or buying less stuff in the first place! But as you’ll see below, many ideas are original and far beyond what I’ve come across before.

As Kathryn is based in the USA, some of the language used and examples given in the book may resonate more with readers there.  But it’s easy to apply the ideas to the UK or elsewhere. It’s also interesting to hear about other country’s systems, e.g. for recycling.

The book also contains loads of formulations for making your own natural cleaning products including a natural alternative to bleach. There are also ideas for personal care products like face masks and recipes using food that often goes to waste, like broccoli stalks.

These ideas sound like fun to try. I’ll do so and report back soon.

Zero waste in death (AKA mushroom suits)

One of the most interesting and original areas the book touches on is about going zero waste in death. Kathryn refers to embalming where formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals are used to preserve the body for the funeral. In the USA alone, according to this article over 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde is buried in the ground every year due to embalming.

Kathryn also says that coffins in the USA don’t break down as they are put into concrete vaults.  

Cremation isn’t ideal either due to toxins released into the air. She suggests alternatives such as having a burial without embalming and using a plain pine box as a coffin without concrete. There’s also something called a mushroom suit which is a cotton outfit infused with mushrooms and micro-organisms. The body is placed in this and buried without a coffin and it naturally breaks down.  

According to press reports, Luke Perry of Beverley Hills 90210 fame was buried in a mushroom suit after he died last year. I have no idea if that option is available in the UK but it might be worth looking into.  If you’d like to find out more, there are a few companies here that deal with greener death arrangements, such as Green Endings in London.

So, if you are looking for new ideas on how to go zero waste and practical hints and tops, why not check out the book and Kathryn’s website? If any of the ideas inspire you, please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

101 Ways to go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg, The Countryman Press, around £9.99 from all good bookshops. Also see to hear more from Kathryn.

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