As the no-garbage or low-waste movement grows, you may be inspired to join until you become daunted by the amount of plastic and packaging that makes lightening your carbon footprint seem impossible. Maybe you’ve even gone minimal in your possessions, but while decluttering might feel good, it’s not a substitute for simply consuming less — from food to fashion.
These books can point you in the right direction as you get started, whether you’re looking for practical tips, information on what happens to your garbage, or some inspiration to keep going. Remember: It’s OK to take small steps. You don’t need to go zero-waste in a single day.
This is a practical guide that can get you started on your low-waste journey today. Watkins compiled hundreds of helpful tips for making your home beautiful, cozy, and low-waste. She covers kitchen, cleaning, wellness, bath, and gardening, explaining how to cut down on packaging and harsh chemicals. Rather than just tell you what not to do, she shares easy checklists and home remedies as well as recipes to replace your old staples. There are even recipes for some of your favorite processed food classics (even ketchup) for going plastic-free in the kitchen.
If you’re the kind of person who likes a schedule and a goal, this is a great place to start since Vandyke breaks down the process of embracing low-waste living in the course of a month. Her popular Instagram — @Rocket_Science (yes, she’s also a rocket scientist) — is packed with great videos and low-waste tips for living comfortably in a modern world.
If your low-waste goals include actually getting off the grid and homesteading, you’ll want to read this hefty book. It’s worth the read even if you’re not planning to move off the grid to a cabin in the woods anytime soon, since it’s filled with practical tips that anyone can put into action. Because Hess has broken her guide into the months of the year and added projects (of all difficulty and ability levels) for each month, it’s a great book to take your time with as you slowly incorporate these changes into your life, whether you live on a farm or in the city.
While fast fashion and fast food add to the world’s garbage problem, fast tips and tricks for going zero waste simply make the process easier and more fun. This quick read from Shia Su, who only creates a single mason jar of garbage per year, is packed with practical ways to shift to low waste living. DIY cleaner recipes, food prep tips, and how to go trash-free without sacrificing the fun in your life are all included.
Trying to understand the Zero Waste Movement as a whole, rather than just getting advice on how to do it? This short explainer book details what exactly zero-waste means, how it’s grown in popularity, and why it’s critically important. She interviews experts, digs into the research, and shares stories that will give you a broader perspective of why lowering your output is vitally important.
If you love the idea of slowing down, becoming more minimal, and embracing a simpler life, it’s tempting to start with one giant decluttering session. In Sustainable Minimalism, Seferian explains how you can be more environmentally conscious and go lower waste while shifting to a more minimalist lifestyle. She includes things like responsible ways to declutter your home, but also how to set up a practical zero-waste home that saves you money and time. It’s a great read if you want to be convinced that a shift to low-waste will actually improve your life as well as the environment.
If you have kids and a busy work life, you might be thinking that going zero-waste sounds impossibly difficult — and it certainly is tougher and trickier when you’re a parent. But Bea Johnson proves that it’s possible, and that the results are worth it. She details her story of going zero waste despite having two sons and a husband along for the ride. Between them, they produce less than a quart of garbage per year, and, in doing so, they’ve cut costs by 40 percent while getting healthier and spending more time together. This book is half memoir, half practical guide — and it’s a great read.
If you prefer audiobooks and quick tips, Kathryn Kellogg’s 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste is the best spot to start. Another author who has fit her trash into a Mason jar, Kellogg started small with saying no to straws before moving closer and closer to zero waste. This set of practical tips hits everything from makeup to fashion to office supplies to snacks, and it offers a great smorgasbord of ideas for lowering consumption in a realistic way.
Going low waste starts with consuming less, and this memoir will show you the power of saying no to shopping, while saying yes to living. While Flanders isn’t advocating for no-waste in this book, it is one of the best reads for someone looking to cut back on their purchasing. Many of the zero-waste books assume you’re already not buying much, but if you’re into shopping, this book might help you see the benefits to cutting back.
Terry understands that it’s not easy to opt out of our garbage-heavy culture, and that plastic is everywhere. But she also knows that ditching plastic is an important step for us to take. In this book, she presents beginner and advanced steps to cutting back on plastic. She shares stories of other plastic-free people and their best tips. And she gets into the psychology of environmentalism, digging into feelings of guilt and how to use those feelings for good. She also touches on the community aspects of lowering plastic consumption, something many other books miss.
You might be surprised to learn that most of our waste comes from the kitchen. Specifically, it comes from food waste. From the vegetables that rotted at the bottom of the fridge to moldy leftovers to expired milk or meat, food waste is a huge problem, costing you a fortune while contributing to the world’s garbage problem. (And that’s not even mentioning all the packaging.) Here, Cinda Chavich shares easy ways to get the absolute most out of every single grocery item you bring home, never wasting a single scrap — but still eating tasty meals every day.
Want to better understand what happens after your trash gets picked up? It’s pretty darn scary, and this short book will open your eyes to the issues with garbage on a world-scale. He explains that humans create roughly 2.6 trillion pounds of waste every year, including everything from tossed out clothing that’s still perfectly good but slightly out of fashion to toxic chemical sludge that leaches into the ground. While some of this is a government-level issue, he explains how lowering our personal consumption and garbage output can help to solve the garbage crisis.