Synopses & Reviews
Garbage has become a huge problem. Ever-expanding hazardous landfills, toxic waste dumps, ocean dead zones, endangered wildlife — its an environmental nightmare.
But garbage is a recent problem — for most of human history it was a minor annoyance — so we should be able to solve it. And garbage doesn't even exist in nature, where the output of one organism is the input of another. So why does garbage exist in human society? Why has it become a problem only in the last century? And most importantly, how can we eliminate it — outsmart the very idea of garbage?
Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky says that to outsmart waste, first we have to understand it, then change how we create it, and finally rethink what we do with it. He traces the roots of our current garbage crisis to 20th-century social shifts and technological advances that resulted in historic changes in consuming habits — both the amount of garbage created and its longevity increased dramatically. We are now producing five billion tons of waste a year, and our only ways of dealing with it are crude and even dangerous: burying it or burning it. We can do better!
Every time we make a purchase, we are essentially voting for the kind of world we want to live in. Szaky shows that by becoming acutely aware of the deeper implications of why we buy, what we buy, when we buy, and what we do with what weve bought, we can cast our vote for a waste-free world. And through innovative recycling and creative “upcycling” (creating new products from discarded objects), we can transform the waste we cant avoid creating from useless waste into a useful resource — as it is in nature.
We do not have to turn the Earth into a cosmic trash can. We as individuals have the power to turn this situation around. And, as Szaky demonstrates, there is a use for every kind of garbage — cigarette butts, toothbrushes, pens, packaging, you name it. After reading this mind-expanding book, you will never think of garbage the same way again.
In this accessible book, Szaky analyzes the historically recentproblem of garbage, advocates for consumer activism, and calls attention to innovative strategies for diverting our waste intocyclical systems. He begins by framing garbage first as human waste distinct from the waste of other organisms, and then as anegative-valued commodity. The influence of individual purchasers is presented next, followed by several chapters on landfills,incineration, and the distinction between these linear solutions and circular solutions. Recycling and upcycling are discussed as circularways of making our garbage behave more like biological waste in ecosystems. The last three chapters tie together the ideas presentedinto practical recommendations for dealing with garbage, including separation of materials, economic incentives, and personal habits.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
Garbage doesn't exist in nature — the output of one organism is the useful input of another. So why does garbage exist in the human system? Why did it only become a problem the past century? And most importantly, how can we eliminate it — outsmart the very idea of garbage?
Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky says that to outsmart waste first we have to understand it, then change how we create it, and finally rethink what we do with it. He traces the roots of our current garbage crisis to 20th century technological advances that resulted in historic changes in consuming habits — both the amount of garbage created and its longevity increased dramatically. Szaky argues we can turn this around by changing what we buy, when we buy, why we buy, and what we do with what weve bought. And through innovative recycling and creative “upcycling” (creating new products from discarded objects) we can stop seeing garbage as useless waste and start seeing it as useful waste — a tremendous volume of resources that are simply misunderstood. After reading this mind-expanding book you will never think of garbage the same way again.
About the Author
Tom Szaky is an eco-entrepreneur, known for starting TerraCycle, a company that makes eco-friendly, affordable consumer products from waste. Begun in his dorm room when he was a Princeton freshman in 2001, Terracycle now operates in 21 countries, collects waste in 177,734 locations in the US and thousands more locations in other countries, and turns all of that waste into hundreds of upcycled and recycled product that are sold in Walmart and many other retailers.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The unique nature of garbage
Chapter 1: Where did the modern idea of garbage come from?
Chapter 2: The culprit: You and me.
Chapter 3: Our primary global solution to waste: bury it.
Chapter 4: The energy inherent in our waste.
Chapter 5: The hierarchy of waste
Chapter 6: The art of upcycling.
Chapter 7: The science of recycling
Chapter 8: Separation: The critical element.
Chapter 9: The economics of outsmarting waste
Conclusion: There is no such thing as garbage, if we want it