As mentioned in my earlier post (food court flash mobs! Diaper shingles! Repurposed Dumpster houses!) it’s America Recycles Day, a day dedicated to promoting and practicing what I consider to be the least vital element of the sacred triple R triumvirate. Sure, recycling is an important, no-brainer practice but the other two Rs, reducing and reusing, shouldn’t be left in the lurch, particularly the former.
And on that note, TreeHugger architecture writer Lloyd Alter has once again resurrected his 2008 post “Recycling is Bull****; Make Nov. 15 Zero Waste Day, not America Recycles Day,” in an effort to promote waste reduction and highlight some of the shortcomings of recycling. Writes Alter in his non-recycled introduction: “It is my favorite holiday of the year, more comedic than April Fools Day and scarier than Hallowe'en. It is the day when Nestlé Water, Anheuser Busch, Alcoa and Pepsi get together with their friends at the American Chemistry Council to pat you on the head for picking up their sh**.”
Point taken. To spotlight the zero-waste movement (which by the way gets it’s own week although sans all the fanfare and corporate sponsors; plus, it’s technically a British event) on this recycle-centric Tuesday, I thought I’d quickly take a look at one household with strong zero-waste aspirations.
I’ve featured a zero-waste home in the past — the Johnson residence of Mill Valley, Calif. — and in that post I managed to rub several readers the wrong way by noting that, in my opinion, while matriarch Béa Johnson’s waste-curbing campaign is most inspiring/impressive, the super-austere home itself leaves something to be desired. Today, my focus is on the Strauss clan of Gloucestershire, U.K., a family whose journey — “the good, the bad and the downright rotten (usually back of the fridge)” — to go from ultra-low waste to zero-waste has been most publicly documented on the website, My Zero Waste. And by the way, the Strauss family is the force behind the aforementioned National Zero Waste Week.
My Zero Waste, helmed primarily by Rachelle Strauss (aka “Mrs. Green”), is an often humorous and always optimistic resource and although many of the waste-cutting tips and tidbits are Brit-specific there’s still plenty to take away. The site is divided into various topic areas including sections dedicated to sharing pointers on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle household waste, a frequently updated blog, product reviews, general waste news, and an area for guest posts including one from fashion provocateur Vivienne Westwood on the topic of eliminating food packaging waste. There's also a My Zero Waste Twitter account worth following.
Instead of further detailing the website and the individual actions Mr. and Mrs. Green and daughter Little Miss Green, I'm suggesting that you, on this America Recycles Day, spend a few moments at My Zero Waste learning about the remarkable efforts of this British family. Are there any actions taken by Rachelle Strauss and co. that you’ve tried out in order to curb your own household waste stream? Tell me about them — along with any trials and tribulations — in the comments section. What have you found to be easiest or the hardest parts?