We are a society of consumers. And as consumers we produce an amazing amount of trash. We buy. We use. We toss. We repeat.
We’ve known for decades that we need to take better care of our Earth, but we often fail to do so. One book seeks to change that with a simple goal: Make garbage great.
Make Garbage Great: The TerraCycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle by Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes shows how the products we use affect our planet and what we can do about it.
The book covers the materials we use every day – paper, plastic, metal, textiles, glass, wood, rubber, and organics – and offers tips for repurposing, recycling and reusing them. There are more than 100 recycling tips and 20 family-friendly DIY projects to help you live greener.
The authors of the book know what they’re talking about. Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a globally recognized recycling business that recycles everything from drink pouches to candy wrappers and toothpaste tubes. Zakes is the Global VP of Communications for TerraCycle and is committed to the company’s mission of reusing, recycling, and upcycling.
Together they’ve created an eye-opening education into how our consumerism is impacting the planet and provide numerous ideas for what we can do to be more Earth-friendly.
If you’re trying to live greener, this is a great read. There are so many aspects of daily life that we don’t give much thought to that are having a negative effect on our planet. Here are a few examples from the book:
- It’s been estimated that Americans use nearly 100 million plastic utensils every day and because they are rarely recycled, they end up in landfills. And plastics can take thousands of years to break down.
- Metal bottle caps can be recycled, but often are not because they’re so small and most people don’t think to do it. Even if they have a thin layer of plastic on the underside, the caps can still be recycled because the plastic evaporates during the recycling process.
- An estimated 80 billion sticky notes are used each year and many recycling mills can’t process the adhesive that makes them sticky. That’s a lot of paper going straight to the trash.
- About 7.5 billion pounds of clothing ends up in landfills each year, wasting water, releasing toxic chemicals, and creating pollution.
- In the U.S., the average person goes through approximately seven trees’ worth of wood products every year. If all of the wood products, including paper, that end up trashed were used for heating, 50 million houses could be heated for the next 20 years.
- Wasted food costs for the U.S. are about $165 billion per year and each year $750 million is spent to get rid of food we throw in the trash.
Make Garbage Great showed me that there is so much I don’t know about the damage common household goods can cause. It was incredibly eye opening to realize that there are so many products that can be recycled, but aren’t. And it gives you a lot of ideas of where and how to recycle those things.
The 20 projects in the book are fun ( I especially liked the sport coat tote and CD room divider) and will have you looking around your home to see what else you can upcycle.
The book is a little heavy on the “Isn’t TerraCycle great?” sentiment but since the book is written by the folks at TerraCycle, that’s not surprising. And it certainly isn’t enough of a factor to prevent you from learning and enjoying the lessons in this book.
This book has inspired me to re-think my future purchases. It has made me realize that while I’m getting better at living greener, I have so much more to do. I’m glad this book is filled with ideas both big and small to get me on the right track. And I love that so many of the ideas also help save money, too.
If you’re trying to live greener by being a better consumer, Make Garbage Great is a must-read. It will enlighten and inspire you and hopefully help you to change your world.
While Harper Collins did provide me with a review copy of this book, the opinions expressed here are 100 percent my own and were not edited by the publisher, author(s), or their affiliates. This post also contains affiliate links which help support this blog at no additional cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy for more information.