A family guide to waste free living by Lauren & Oberon Carter

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Pan Macmillan Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760783051.
The family at the heart of this book live in Tasmania and are part of the Zero Waste movement, encouraging people to adopt the waste hierarchy "Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle. Many of us feel good about the amount of waste we put in our recycling bins but that waste collection uses a lot of fuel and resources and the ABC programme "War on Waste" has demonstrated that the material collected is not adequately recycled. By being mindful of what we bring into our lives it is possible to dramatically limit what we throw away. The authors suggest a starting point is to audit your waste, tipping out your bins and recording what you have thrown out in one week. By having a family conference to discuss the findings it is possible to involve the children. Much of the book is taken up with practical suggestions for waste free food, packaging, household products, celebrations and taking the challenge for change to your community. The section on children and babies looks at alternatives to disposable nappies and wipes and to children's parties without throwaway items. The pet food recipes shine a light on the source of much of the packaging waste in households with pets. This family approach to changing consumer habits is beautifully produced featuring images of many reusable items that can be sourced from the Zero Waste website. Sometimes the missionary zeal of the authors comes across as selling a lifestyle, embracing permaculture and organic food not just waste reduction. There is one page of references to support many assertions through the text. I was interested in the reference to toxoplasmosis on page 207 and found the information was based on a 2010 article in Scientific American entitled "Cat disease threatens endangered monk seals." p314. I was also disappointed in the section exhorting men to step up to waste free living, citing the stereotype "Boys are often raised to be 'tough' and indifferent to nurturing and domestic activities, while girls are more often encouraged to cook and clean through their play and in domestic life" p 302. Overall I would recommend the guide to those seeking ways to make changes in their lives. Being about an Australian family makes it relevant and the book's good design makes the information readily accessible.
Sue Speck