Waste Not, Want Not: A Sustainable Living Skill

June, 2014



Today’s baby-boomers, whose parents grew victory gardens during the Great Depression, grew up with a “waste not, want not” slogan and then promptly abandoned it upon entering the age of plastics, plenty, and the so-called “disposable” society.  Today “waste not, want not” has taken on new life with the accelerating awareness of resource limits and the reality of climate change.

Living a Zero-Waste Lifestyle was one of numerous workshop themes at the Sustainable Living Skills Fair held April 20 at the Jefferson Community Center.  This was the second Sustainable Living Skills Fair of the year, and attendance and enjoyment have mushroomed.

So just what does it mean to live “waste free?” It’s not just the Five R’s:  Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (in that order).  Living waste free is really about waste prevention in all that you do.  Purchase only what you need, buy local, buy at thrifts and yards sales when possible, or, don’t buy.  Avoid hoarding.  Clean house of any excess “stuff” and donate it to friends or thrifts. Take your own containers and reusable bags when you shop, and purchase food, nails, and other items in bulk to minimize packaging.  No plastic bags, no single-use plastic bottles or cups. Some dedicated zero-wasters even have a policy of “no plastic nowhere”.

Additional strategies include eliminating lawns (plant native drought-resistant plants), composting your green waste and garbage (no garbage disposal), and then use the compost to grow your own fruits and vegetables GMO-free.  Give away, trade (think “Humbucks”) or preserve any surplus.  Buy used rather than new, and borrow when possible.  Walk or bicycle or car-pool with friends and neighbors. Email instead of writing letters/sending cards (there are great card providers on-line).  These are just a sampling of possible lifestyle changes.

What results can be expected from following these guidelines?  Money saved, good GMO-free food, smaller garbage, gas and water bills, more exercise and health, and a clutter-free residence.  

For more information, find Zero Waste Humboldt on Facebook or the web at
www.zerowastehumboldt.org. Check out these helpful websites as well: frugallysustainable.com, treehugger.com/green-home, myplasticfreelife.com, and ZeroWasteHome.com.