Academic, Culture & Community

EarthxReads: Waste & Recycling

These informative and hard-hitting books tackle issues such as food waste, the toxins present in digital devices, and the way we dealt with trash before the Environmental Protection Agency, but all center around how we can ultimately do better by our planet when dealing with waste.

Garbology by Edward Humes

Take a journey inside the secret world of our biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash. In Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Edward Humes investigates the trail of trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Garbology digs through our epic piles of trash to reveal not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Are we destined to remain the country whose number-one export is scrap—America as China’s trash compactor—or will the country that invented the disposable economy pioneer a new and less wasteful path? The real secret at the heart of Garbology may well be the potential for a happy ending buried in our landfill. Waste, Humes writes, is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.”

1448394761696

The Road to Love Canal by Craig E. Colten and Peter N. Skinner

 “The toxic legacy of Love Canal vividly brought the crisis in industrial waste disposal to public awareness across the United States and led to the passage of the Superfund legislation in 1980. To discover why disasters like Love Canal have occurred and whether they could have been averted with knowledge available to waste managers of the time, this book examines industrial waste disposal before the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. The authors find that significant information about the hazards of industrial wastes existed before 1970. Their explanations of why this knowledge did not prevent the toxic legacy now facing us will be essential reading for environmental historians and lawyers, public health personnel, and concerned citizens.”

9780292711839

American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom

 “Entire fields unharvested. Half-eaten restaurant meals abandoned. Fresh foods rotting in the fridge…From farm to fork, we as a nation waste a staggering amount of food—as much as 40 percent of all the food we produce. Now, award-winning author and journalist Jonathan Bloom wades into the garbage heap to unearth what our squandered food says about us, why it matters, and most importantly, how you can make a difference starting in your own kitchen—reducing waste and saving money. Through behind-the-scenes reporting and interview up and down the food chain, Bloom’s exposé ensures that you will never look at your shopping list, refrigerator, dinner plate, or trash can the same way again.”

51S9-1Dju-L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

High Tech Trash by Elizabeth Grossman

“The Digital Age was expected to usher in an era of clean production, an alternative to smokestack industries and their pollutants. But as environmental journalist Elizabeth Grossman reveals in this penetrating analysis of high tech manufacture and disposal, digital may be sleek, but it’s anything but clean. Deep within every electronic device lie toxic materials that make up the bits and bytes, a complex thicket of lead, mercury, cadmium, plastics, and a host of other often harmful ingredients. High Tech Trash is a wake-up call to the importance of the e-waste issue and the health hazards involved.”

61aEy6qYP2L._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_

Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter

“In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter—veteran journalist and son of an American junkyard owner—travels deeply into a vast, often hidden, multibillion-dollar industry that’s transforming our economy and environment. Junkyard Planet reveals how “going green” usually means making money—and why that’s often the most sustainable choice, even when the recycling methods aren’t pretty. With unmatched access to and insight on the junk trade, and the explanatory gifts and an eye for detail worthy of a John McPhee or William Langewiesche, Minter traces the export of America’s recyclables and the massive profits that China and other rising nations earn from it. What emerges is an engaging, colorful, and sometimes troubling tale of consumption, innovation, and the ascent of a developing world that recognizes value where Americans don’t. Junkyard Planet reveals that we might need to learn a smarter way to take out the trash.”

JunkyardPlanet_Na_Cvr1