Written by Tara McKenna
I’ve had a quite few pleasant comments recently about my new book, Don’t Be Trashy: A Practical Guide to Living with Less Waste and More Joy. What’s struck me, though, is how common it’s been for me to hear or read that people thought the book was going to be “hardcore” or “too difficult” to implement.
Here’s a recent review left on Amazon as an example:
“So I will be the first to admit, I need make a lot of changes to live a "Less Trashy" lifestyle. I didn't pay much attention to the packaging of items or how much trash I was producing from my lifestyle. When I bought this book, I was worried I would be given a list of reasons why I was a terrible person and how everything I was doing was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the author conveyed the lessons in a way that was not condescending or "preachy". There are a number of small changes I can make today, and I can continue to make further improvements over time. Well written, to the point, and conveyed in a way that is easy to consume. I will be recommending this book to my friends and family!”
The point of me writing the book was to avoid being preachy, condescending, and holding all readers to high standards of environmental activism. Instead, Don’t Be Trashy invites people from all walks of life to find their version of low-waste living, one that works for them and helps them live their best life. It’s a you-do-you kind of book!
The world is heavy enough, we don’t need another burdensome book telling us how the world is ending and that we’re contributing to the problem.
Living less trashy is really all about moderation. Sadly, we’re not living in a culture of moderation. We’re living in a culture of excess, where more is more, and more is better!
It’s the more, more, more mentality that has us consuming too much and tossing at alarming rates. We’re living in a consumer culture.
What if we dialed it back a bit? In a way that’s not “hardcore” or “too difficult” to implement? To be a little less trashy?
Everything in moderation.
Zero Waste is a little too hardcore (not for everyone, but for most), so what I suggest is moderation. Low-waste living.
Here are some ideas about what this could look like, zero waste vs. low waste (i.e., moderation):
Shopping for only secondhand fashion → Buying a mix of secondhand clothes, sustainable brands, using what’s already in your closet, buying fast fashion but not treating it like fast fashion
Grocery shopping completely package free → Remembering to bring your reusable shopping bags, purchasing plastic-free produce when possible, grabbing soon to expire (and soon to be tossed) but very packaged food items, buying what works for your family needs
Making all of your own cleaning supplies → Finding refill stations to refill your cleaning supplies, buying concentrated products that you can dilute by adding water at home, using up what you have, buying multi-purpose cleaners so you don’t have to buy (and not actually use) a million different types of cleaning products
Never getting takeout → Reducing your takeout purchases, buying takeout from restaurants that participate in reusable and returnable container programs (like Loop, and Friendlier), getting takeout from restaurants that have compostable containers
Making all of the zero waste swaps → There are a lot of really great zero waste swaps out there that actually save money and reduce waste (like switching from plastic wrap to beeswax wraps, or from plastic razors to a safety razor), but there’s no requirement for you to make all the swaps, do what works for you, in a timeline that suits your life
Do what works for you! It’s better than doing nothing.