#BookReview: Year Of No Garbage by Eve O. Schaub

Realistic Look At The Practical Side Of Trying To Eliminate Household Garbage. I intentionally read this book immediately after reading Wasteland by Oliver Franklin-Wallis (which is scheduled to release about two months after this book), and the convergences and divergences were quite interesting. Franklin-Wallis’ text is absolutely the better, more well-rounded, guide to almost the entirety of the overall waste problem around the world, and is has nearly triple the overall percentage of the text as bibliography – indicating *far* more actual research and documentation. This is actually the first star deduction – the lack of bibliography. Perhaps more excusable in a more memoir-based book such as this, but even among memoirs, getting closer to that 20% range on documentation is more typical in my own experience with reading Advance Reviewer Copies of these types of books.

But where *this* text stands out is in just how *practical* it is. Schaub is apparently effectively a performance artist whose medium is memoirs, and she has to learn quite a bit along the way and ask a *lot* of questions of people that I’m honestly not sure Joe Blow (who can’t say that he is working on a memoir) would ever have actual access to. But even outside of all the questions Schaub asks of various waste industry professionals and activists, she has to wrestle with the day to day realities of truly trying to eliminate 100% of her family’s trash – for an entire year. A year which turned out to be 2020, and thus involve the worst parts of the global collapse and home imprisonment. Which is where the star deduction comes in, as I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. Yes, even in 2023.

Nevertheless, the challenges Schaub had to surmount were indeed quite formidable, and in the end she learned a hard fought, depressing for some, lesson: Ultimately, eliminating 100% of garbage cannot currently be done in modern society. *Perhaps* as a true Homesteader/ Survivalist – which Schaub is not and therefore did not test -, but for the vast majority of those living in the modern, Western-ish society, it simply cannot be done.

Read the book to see how close Schaub and her family got and all the trials and travails they had to go through to get there. Schaub writes in a fashion that comes across as both no-nonsense and humorous, and the tale reads well because of this. Her ultimate recommendations… let’s just go with “Your Mileage May Vary” on. If you’re a avowed environmentalist fan of Bernie Sanders… you’re probably going to like a lot of them, perhaps all of them. The further away from that archetype you are, the less you’re likely to agree with her recommendations.

Still, regardless of where you think you’ll land on her recommendations – and thus, how much you’ll want to throw this book on the nearest trash heap, pour gallons of gas all over it, and light it up (even if it is on your Kindle) -, read this book to see just how hard it is to eliminate household garbage in the US, and perhaps start thinking about some possible solutions for your family or possibly policy solutions for your local community, your state, and/ or your nation that more align with your own principles.

Overall, this book is very much recommended.

This review of Year Of No Garbage by Eve O. Schaub was originally written on April 8, 2023.

#BookReview: Wasteland by Oliver Franklin-Wallis

Comprehensive Look At The World Of Waste. I’ve seen bits and pieces of some of this in some books, such as Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Unraveled by Maxine Bedat, Worn Out by Alyssa Hardy, Pipe Dreams by Chelsea Wald, and Sewer by Jessica Leigh Hester, just to name a few. And I’ve even lived a version of some of it, having worked at a US nuclear waste disposal facility a couple of times over a period of a couple of years. But this is the first book I’ve ever found that really covers all aspects of waste from nearly every possible angle. About the only glaring omission, perhaps, is space junk – the orbital debris that causes headaches for new and existing satellites and the International Space Station and could one day cause a *major* problem terrestrially via knocking all satellites out of usability (an issue known as the Kessler Effect, and used quite well in the late Matthew Mather’s Cyber Storm trilogy of fiction).

But what Franklin-Wallis *does* cover, he truly does cover in remarkable depth and clarity, using a combination of direct interviews and scholarly research to give both a human face to each particular issue and ground it in its full severity. This books is truly quite eye opening in several different respects, and will likely greatly add to the overall discussion of the topic… assuming enough people read it. Which is, in part, where this review comes in. Go read the book already. 🙂

The documentation is *maybe* *slightly* low at about 21% of the overall text, but this is actually within the lower bound of “normal” in my experience, and thus not worthy of a star deduction nor even true criticism, I’m simply noting it because I try to make a similar note in most non-fiction reviews.

Overall truly an excellent book full of both reality and hope, and very much recommended.

This review of Wasteland by Oliver Franklin-Wallis was originally written on April 8, 2023.

#BookReview: Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz

Strong Start, Your Mileage May Vary On Ending. I gotta admit, as an American I’d never heard of Plastic Free July before seeing this book on NetGalley. (And yes, since I am writing this review on July 21, 2020 – the day after it hit NetGalley – and it doesn’t publish until December 8, 2020, this is certainly an Advance Review Copy, with all of the things that generally entails.) But the description of how Prince-Ruiz started the organization sounded promising. And the text of the book, for the first half – two thirds or so, showed exactly that promise. Someone deciding independently to choose to do something that could make a difference and work to convince her friends and family to do the same… in the age of social media. The back part of the book, where the organization shifts from voluntary action to political action – which is ultimately *always* at the point of a sword (in Ye Olden Times) or gun (in the modern era) – is more problematic and is where the book will likely be seen as much more divisive. I try to keep my own politics out of my reviews to as much a degree as possible, so I’ll simply note that through this section the voluntary actions the author describes are commendable, and I’ve actually supported a few of them myself, but the less-than-voluntary actions… any time politics gets involved, you invite problems. Ultimately a great look at various things we all can and arguably should do, marred by its descent into politics. Recommended.

This review of Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz was originally written on July 21, 2020.