‘Quit The Jar!’ New Zero-Waste Book Gets Real About Taking Action Versus Talking Action

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Polly Barks, a zero-waste educator who lives a full waste-free lifestyle in Indiana in the United States, will soon be launching her new book on everything to do with zero-waste sustainable living. Titled More Than A Plastic Bag: An Action Guide for Environmentalists of Any Level, the book is, in her words, “dedicated to everyone who’s sick of raising awareness and is ready to take action.” Full of practical advice and handy tips, it promises to be one of the most useful handbooks for those striving to make serious changes for the planet. 

Barks began her fully zero-waste lifestyle in 2015 after experiencing life in an Indianapolis community where buying quality fresh food is a luxury for the everyday person. Since her journey, she has become a zero-waste leader hoping to provide open and equitable education about how to live sustainably – this means practical affordable steps that all of us can take and upfront commentary about what she calls “the mason jar crock of shit.” 

I’ve lived first-hand knowing how hard it is to think about climate change when you’re working about paying rent,” she explains on her website. 

But given the state of our planet, from overflowing landfills to our plastic ocean crisis, astonishing food waste, rising temperatures and quickly disappearing biodiversity, it is vital that each and every one of us takes action. We have no more time to lose, and action on waste – whether it is reducing food disposal, cutting down on unnecessary and unsustainable fashion consumption and eliminating plastics from our lives – is one of the most impactful measures that all of us can take in our daily lives. 

In her new book, Barks hopes to give readers a window into how to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle, minus all the “idealised versions of zero-waste you see on Instagram or Pinterest”. Instead of telling you to purchase another expensive item marketed as sustainable, Barks wants to convey the message that all these unnecessary products are simply a part of our obsessive overconsumption culture, and that we less not more. 

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So what tips does her More Than A Plastic Bag  actually contain? According to Barks, there will be 12 sections all about sustainable living, covering almost every aspect in our lives, from the kitchen to gardens to policy and beyond.” Within each section are 3 levels of actions we can take, categorised into those for beginners who are just starting to take sustainable steps, for those already working on sustainable living to take it above the intermediate level, and advanced actions for people who want action beyond themselves. 

It looks like the guide will be handy for almost everyone, those curious about zero-waste living and those already striving for sustainability in their daily habits alike. More Than A Plastic Bag us due to launch on 1st June this year, with more details to be announced on Barks’ website in the near future. True to her zero-waste style, the book will be sold online as an ebook and audiobook, with a limited number of physical paperbacks that will ship only to the US and Canada. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for book inspiration, check out these 5 books that will help you on your low-waste journey or explore the best 6 environmental books for your kids!

Lead image courtesy of Polly Barks.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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