Today Kayla Kamp shares a guest post with us about books she feels are important…
I grew up in a small, conservative town in Oklahoma. As you can imagine that wasn’t the best incubator for a little environmentalist. Despite my mom’s best efforts to have good organic food in the house and tread lighter on the Earth, I wanted nothing to do with it until I was forced to take an environmental class. Long story short, this class totally changed my whole perspective on environmental issues, however, Oklahoma wasn’t the best place to cultivate the new passion I had.
Although there are many concrete environmental causes (not like global warming no one can see and the research is askew, but like water pollution, depleting forests, etc.) for some reason, reducing our waste and over consumption called my name. From that point on, I read every piece of information I could get my hands on. These are the books that changed my life forever.
Garbology by Edward Humes
I had read a lot of about environmental issues, but this book was the first I read that talked specifically about our waste management problems. No matter how many amazing books I read, this one will always have my heart. Humes is an archeologist and he starts the book talking about how we have always studied archeological ruins to study people of the past. Archeologists study and know the importance of the village artifacts to determine the culture and practices of the people inhabiting that village. The same will happen with us, except instead of pots, stone knives or arrowheads, they will study our landfills to see how we lived. Our trash, newspapers, plastic bottles, chip bags, anything we throw away doesn’t break down quickly, sometimes never, so future people will be able to study how we lived based on what we threw away. He doesn’t talk just about the problem but in the end, (I won’t give it away) he gave wonderful stories of people making a difference.
Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte
She shows us what happens to what we’ve thrown away and the very real impact it has on our lives and environment that will never go ‘away.’
If you don’t care for non-fiction, this book is for you. It has secrets, adventures of where our trash goes once it’s ‘away’, every character you possibly imagine from tin, plastic and paper men to ogres (CEOs) that encourage overconsumption and waste.
Make Garbage Great: The Terracycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle by Tom Szaky, Albe Zakes
Oh man. The creativity and brilliance that flows through these pages is mind blowing. Thanks to this book, I have to really work not to hoard every single piece of trash that goes through my front door, so I can live the gloriousness that is this entire book. For those who don’t know TerraCycle, it makes consumer products from pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. They started with vermicomposting and now you can ship in just about anything you have, including many unrecyclable packaging materials such as toothpaste tubes, bottles, Capri sun packages and they will turn it into something. such as a bag, toothbrush holder, etc. This book is filled with information about 9 major waste categories, their history, their lifecycle, what problems they present in the environment to create, recycle and once they are thrown away, plus creative ideas and tips to solve these problems. You can turn even the things that can’t be recycled back into something else useful, beautiful or practical.
The Zero Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst
I like to learn about environmental problems, the ins and outs of the politics behind them and why I should care about them, but I can’t stand a book that will complain about a problem without giving a solution. Although, none of the books I’ve mentioned so far fall under that category, this book goes above and beyond to give you solutions to your waste problems. Before I started on the journey to reuse more and waste less, I was just like the average American throwing away about 7 pounds of trash a day. I needed all the help I could get! But this book has wonderfully practical, every day tips to use less trash. Living in small Oklahoma towns, when I read other books like Garbology, I was so jealous of the opportunities people had in larger cities to reduce, reuse and recycle. There aren’t always a lot of environmentally friendly shopping options here, but this book still has many tips that anyone can do.
Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash by Susan Strasser
The history of materialism and how our society dealt with the accumulation of trash that came with it over time. Materialism was promoted to, of course, boost the economy. During the Great Depression advertisers told people that buying, even on credit would be good. During the Second World War, that began to change, even essentials were rationed for war. Once again, gardens and frugal living was encouraged. As I read, I began to realize the real difference between now and then isn’t infrastructure, manners, standards of living, but the simple idea that in the past, people didn’t seem to spend or waste money on things they neither needed or wanted since money was so hard to come by, or required such hard work to earn. When people did have the money, they were much more frugal. More recently, people recycle, donate, have yard sales, not because they don’t need those items, but they’re bored and want to buy the update version or something better.
We have blind ambition and are stuck in an endless cycle, a slave to our stuff. These books really help to illuminate that and give us ideas to change. They changed my life and how I spent my money. Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite books regarding any environmental issues, or if you’ve read any of these books, please let us know how they made you feel.
About Kayla Kamp
Kayla is on a mission to create awareness for the impacts our daily actions have on the planet and our fellow humans. She blogs at Ever Change Productions, which is edited by her cat, Cheerio. Readers are updated on the progress of her first documentary based in Stillwater, OK and other video projects, along with world changing ideas, other environmental and local issues that grab her attention.