Book Review: Bare Necessities- How to live a zero-waste life

In April 2016, I received an email from Sahar Mansoor, requesting to meet for a cup of coffee, over an article on waste pickers contribution that I had written for Citizen Matters. It read, ‘ I am very passionate about our global garbage crisis and currently attempting a zero waste lifestyle’. Kabir Arora and I met her for coffee and we discussed a range of issues around waste. We initially assumed that this is a one off discussion, and did not put much thought into the meeting. However, true to her word, Sahar pursued her passion, wth dogged determination. She launched a green enterprise, Bare Necessities, and followed it up with a book ‘ Bare Necessities- How to live a zero waste life’, which she co-authored with Tim de Reddler.

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Why should you read the book?

I am a sucker for books. And when I saw the post on Vani Murthy’s Insta feed, I knew that I wanted to read it. But to my suprise, I received a signed copy of the book from Sahar.

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Having worked in the waste management space for over a decade, I must admit the book did create nostalgia. The book is designed as a guidebook, and each chapter begins with a scenario of reality from everyday living. It then prompts you to ask questions – with a teaser what is in your waste and throws in statistics and gives you time for reflection in the following section. And then the choice is in your hand, to pursue a sustainable route or skip it. What I like about this book, it is not imposing on the idea of what you should do, but merely asks questions and allows you to weigh your thoughts and actions.

Should you decide to choose the sustainable route, the book then guides to look at resources available through a series of activities and finally lead you to the Zero Waste Library Section where you can experiment with DIY hacks, recipes and more. 

You don’t have to read the book in one go, browse through the chapters – Personal Care, Closet, Kitchen, Home Care, Gifting, Community, or Travel. Go at it one-by one. Pause, ponder, ask questions, discuss, research, talk to people and try one thing at a time. After all Living sustainably is an ongoing journey. It starts with one small step at a time, and I can assure you that I am not there yet – because there are multiple dimensions and inter connections. But believe me, it has been a wonderful journey of self discovery, fun and has been an extremely enriching experience. But for that I had to indulge in a little bit of soul searching and navel gazing, and in a way the book allows for introspection on our relationship with ourselves and the world around us.