The authors make the case, after serious study--including Rathje's archeological analysis of landfills over the years as the director of the Garbage Project--that recycling, while not a bad thing, has limits and will not truly solve the problems of waste production and resource depletion unless other patterns of consumption and use are changed. The key, in so many words, is to use less stuff to begin with!
A concerted effort to reduce consumption coupled with the creative reuse of materials are truly the only long-term solutions. Readers are given a wide range of simple activities that will help reduce the use of raw materials and resources, such as turning down the heat before a party (allowing the guests to generate their own heat), buying highly concentrated forms of products like juice and detergents to minimize packaging, using Web pages to post notices rather than flyers, and simply leaving unused hotel amenities for the next guest.
Although they give an extensive list of practical suggestions, perhaps the authors' main service is to encourage a way of thinking about resources that translates into significant lifestyle choices with a consciousness of resource use, thereby permitting the reader to devise his or her own simple techniques and strategies to use less, waste less, reuse materials, and conserve raw materials and energy in their own creative ways. This is a very practical book filled with tips and techniques, but it is also a very hopeful book, showing people how to work in a daily way to conserve resources and help the environment. --Mark A. Hetts
From the Inside Flap
Q: What do all of the previous civilizations that practiced recycling have in common?
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A: They're extinct.
Let's face it. Recycling has its limits. But so does our Earth. As environmentalists Robert Lilienfeld and William Rathje explain, the answer to our twenty-first century garbage crisis is both simple and practical--use less stuff. This groundbreaking consumer guide suggests helpful money- and energy-saving tips for everyone who cares about how we live today and tomorrow. Learn to reduce and reuse with creative suggestions for all areas of your life, including:
At home: Turn down the heat before guests arrive for a party--the extra body heat will warm up the room
During the holidays: Save gift boxes to use the following year
At the store: Buy products that come in concentrated formats--like juice and detergent
At the office: Donate or sell old office equipment
At school: Post announcements on a school Web site
In the great outdoors: Bring magic markers to your picnic so guests can label their cups and plates
And many more!
Start a war on waste and help save the planet!