Outsmart waste The modern idea of garbage and how to think our way out of it

Tom Szaky

Book - 2014

"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 ce...ntury 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 we've 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"--

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Subjects
Published
San Francisco : Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc [2014]
Language
English
Physical Description
ix, 156 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781626560246
1626560242
Main Author
Tom Szaky (-)
  • The unique nature of garbage
  • Where the modern idea of garbage originated
  • The role of the individual purchase
  • Our primary global solution to waste : bury it
  • The energy inherent in our waste
  • The hierarchy of waste
  • The art of upcycling
  • The science of recycling
  • The critical element of separation
  • The economics of outsmarting waste
  • Waste is over (if you want it).
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Szaky (Revolution in a Bottle) knows of what he speaks when it comes to trash. The founder and CEO of TerraCycle combines in this brief work the well-known environmental strategies of consumption reduction and recycling with the newer concept of "upcycling." Familiar to crafters as the new term for repurposing found or discarded items, Szaky makes upcycling a central part of his overall strategy for outsmarting waste, falling between reusing and recycling on a hierarchy of "circular solutions." Upcycling can be done on an individual basis but is also possible on an industrial level, as his company and others like it prove. Szaky believes that we can solve our global waste problem in a way that makes both environmental and economic sense by adjusting consumption habits so that, as individuals, we buy less, buy used, and buy more durably and conscientiously. Moreover, we can ensure that items no longer wanted or needed get reused, upcycled, or recycled. While not everyone may have the DIY spirit to upcycle their own trash, it is undeniable that the Earth's resources are limited and that human-created waste is a growing threat; Szaky's book offers useful strategies that are available to anyone. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Traces the roots of the current garbage crisis to twentieth-century technological advances that brought about changes in consuming habits, and argues that this trend can be reversed through innovative recycling and "upcycling."

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"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 technologicaladvances 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 we've 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"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this accessible book, Szaky analyzes the historically recent problem of garbage, advocates for consumer activism, and calls attention to innovative strategies for diverting our waste into cyclical systems. He begins by framing garbage first as human waste distinct from the waste of other organisms, and then as a negative-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 circular ways of making our garbage behave more like biological waste in ecosystems. The last three chapters tie together the ideas presented into practical recommendations for dealing with garbage, including separation of materials, economic incentives, and personal habits. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Ever-expanding landfills, ocean gyres filled with floating plastic mush, endangered wildlife. Our garbage has become a massive and exponentially growing problem in modern society. Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky explores why this crisis exists and explains how can we solve it by eliminating the very idea of garbage. To outsmart waste, he says, we first have to understand it, then change how we create it, and finally rethink what we do with it.By mimicking nature and focusing on the value inherent in our by-products, we can transform the waste we can’t avoid creating from useless trash to a useful resource. Szaky demonstrates that there is value in every kind of garbage, from used chewing gum to juice pouches to cigarette butts. After reading this mind-expanding book, you will never think about garbage the same way again.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Ever-expanding landfills, ocean gyres filled with floating plastic mush, endangered wildlife. Our garbage has become a massive and exponentially growing problem in modern society. Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky explores why this crisis exists and explains how can we solve it by eliminating the very idea of garbage. To outsmart waste, he says, we first have to understand it, then change how we create it, and finally rethink what we do with it. By mimicking nature and focusing on the value inherent in our by-products, we can transform the waste we can’t avoid creating from useless trash to a useful resource. Szaky demonstrates that there is value in every kind of garbage, from used chewing gum to juice pouches to cigarette butts. After reading this mind-expanding book, you will never think about garbage the same way again.