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San Diego writer Fredrika Syren gives tips for a zero-waste lifestyle

Elena Shur
The Zero-Waste Family plant crops at their urban homestead, where they grow 70% of their own food in San Diego, October 2021.

Each week most people fill plastic garbage bags with waste that is hauled to the landfill, throwing away everything from non-recyclable plastics, to food waste and plenty of other garbage. According to the city of San Diego, residents here throw away 1.58 million tons of trash each year. But not everyone.

For the last 16 years, San Diego writer Fredrika Syren has been on a journey with her family to reduce their waste to zero.


"Once I became a mom 15 years ago to my first child, I realized that climate change was actually an issue that was going to effect my children because this is their future and I want to save it for them, I want to give my kids everything, and that includes a perfect, nice and healthy planet to live on," Syren said. "I started to think more about personal, individual action and how important that actually is."

If we can't compost it, recycle it or reuse it, we will refuse it.
Fredrika Syren

Her family's mantra now is, "If we can't compost it, recycle it or reuse it, we will refuse it." But the path to reducing her family's waste footprint was not fast and at times it was clumsy, Syren said.

She said her new book, “A Practical Guide to Zero Waste for Families”, is an attempt to make the process of going zero waste easier for others to navigate.

Syren joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk going zero waste.


"Zero waste actually saves a lot of money. For us it saves us $18,000 a year by just reducing our waste and living the way we do," Syren said. "We did not become zero wasters to complicate our life, we did it to uncomplicate our life. We have more time, more money and we just have less waste."