Former North County family embraces zero-waste lifestyle – Advice Eating

Former Encinitas residents Fredrika and James Syren’s property stands out on a residential street in central San Diego lined with attractive mid-sized homes with manicured front yards.

Like a green thumb.

From front to back, the open space surrounding their property in San Diego’s Talmadge neighborhood is thriving with food-producing plants.

You grow 17 types of fruit and berries and 33 different types of vegetables and herbs, but not all at the same time.

“Grass has been a thorn in my side since I’ve been here,” said Fredrika. “You can’t eat the grass, but you can eat the garden.”

The parents and their three children grow much of what they consume that does not contain meat. They supplement their garden production with purchases from local farmers’ markets and shops where they can purchase grains in bulk.

The whole point of their approach? No loss. You run a household that is independent of materials that end up in a landfill and contribute to environmental pollution.

It’s one of the reasons they left the coastal North County where James grew up to live in a more urban community in San Diego.

“We thought about having a little more space and living closer to downtown and the farmers’ markets,” James said. “We go to the farmers’ markets every week to buy what we don’t grow here, and Hillcrest Farmers Market is one of the best in town.”

The cover of A Practical Guide to Zero Waste for Families by Fredrika Syren

(Elena Schur
)

The family’s pursuit of this lifestyle resulted in a book, A Practical Guide to Zero Waste for Families, written by Fredrika Syren, a professional environmental writer.

The second edition of the book was published by BBL Publishing, an imprint of Build.Buzz.Launch of Dallas, Texas. Media & Publisher.

A book launch and book signing was scheduled for Sunday, May 1 at Warwick’s Bookstore in La Jolla.

Another performance will follow on May 15 from 2pm to 4pm at The Mighty Bin, 2855 El Cajon Blvd., Suite 4, San Diego.

For information on how to obtain the book and other Syrens products, and tips on topics such as zero waste, composting and gardening, visit their zerowastefamily.com website.

The 191-page volume covers numerous topics in detail, including: zero waste shopping, cooking and cleaning, parties, laundry, school supplies and travel.

“This is the guide I wish I had when I started, that would have helped me,” said Fredrika Syren. “I want to help other people reduce their waste. That way they have a reference book to go in and look up whatever.”

It includes one chapter, “Zero Waste: Confessions of a Teenager,” written by Isabella Syren, the eldest of her children. She and brothers Noah and Liam play key roles on the mini farm.

“Our garden is a classroom for our children,” said Fredrika Syren. “They’re learning math and science out there, and they’re learning patience. If you want to teach a child miracles, plant a garden.”

James Syren added: “It’s amazing how much more engaged they are in watering once they plant the seeds. And when it bursts out of the ground, they get so excited.”

A book signing at The Mighty Bin, which bills itself as San Diego’s Zero Waste Grocery Store, is a prime example of why the Syrens decided to leave North County.

Located on busy El Cajon Boulevard, the store is about 10 minutes from her home.

Also, back then there was better access to food, which was sold in bulk so it could be bought and collected in reusable cloth sacks rather than plastic bags and containers.

In recent years, North County has seen growing opportunities for households to engage in Zero Waste.

The Syrens remain holed up in San Diego, however, and not just because it made it better suited to their green stance. Her children attend the Waldorf School of San Diego, an independent institution with a campus near where she lives.

But the school’s curriculum also fits the family’s approach, as it offers courses on the environment and gardening.

Her lifestyle and ultimately the book are the culmination of a quest Fredrika Syren initiated in 2006 when she decided that the family should start reducing their carbon footprint.

“When I became a mother, I realized that climate change is an issue that actually needs a lot of attention because it affects my children’s future,” said Fredrika, a professional environmental writer. “I did a lot of research and found that individual action is actually very important.

“So I slowly started making some changes because I was becoming a housewife and I had a little more free time. I have decided that no matter what happens, I will do this.”

In 2015, while the couple was living in Sweden, where she was born and raised, the couple discovered the changes saved money. James Syren proposed the idea of ​​going completely waste-free.

“That’s when we started finding alternatives for everything we bought, or we just stopped buying it so we could go on this journey,” he said. “It took several years, but we finally made it.”

Returning to other United States and settling in San Diego, they continued to refine their methods and increase their independence from the culture of mass production.

The family’s techniques continued to evolve. They use various composting methods, including worms and garden waste, while fertilizing with chicken manure and eggshells.

“Composting is so important,” said James Syren, who works in the software industry. “When you throw leftover food in the bin, people think it’s going to landfill and it’s not going to be composted. It turns into methane gas, which is a terrible greenhouse gas.”

The chicken waste comes from about half a dozen hens who share the outdoor area with a house rabbit and a dog, as well as various other creatures that are attracted to the garden setting, such as bees, hummingbirds, lizards, praying mantises, butterflies and garden snakes.

“We coexist with nature,” said Fredrika Syren. “They always say if you don’t have a snake or lizards or bees in your garden, you’re not gardening properly.”

Neighbors have supported her gardening, they said. Residents bring their garden waste to compost, while the Syrens and other gardeners trade surplus produce.

The Syrens hope the book, their example, and their outreach will encourage others to pursue Zero Waste.

As Fredrika Syren states in the introduction to her book: “Although living without waste was challenging and often required creativity, we always knew that the result would be worth the hard work. I knew that reducing our waste to almost nothing would benefit the planet, but we were surprised at how much money we saved through our zero-waste lifestyle.”

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