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Nonfiction November: Books on how to reduce waste

This week’s prompt, hosted by The Thousand Book Project, gives me an opportunity to ask for help. So I’m calling out for expertise on books that deal with the topic of how to reduce our impact on the environment; as a society and as an individual.

There are scores of books already published on this topic and I suspect, given the increasing attention on the bigger theme of climate change, there are scores more waiting in the wings. Every time I go to the bookshop that section of shelves seems to have expanded.

My problem is that there’s actually too much choice. I can’t sift out the really good ones from the dross. The subject has become so ‘popular’ that I’m nervous about people just jumping on the bandwagon.

So many of the books around have titles that make me suspicious they could be rather basic like Six Weeks to Zero Waste: A simple plan for life by Kate Arnell or 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg. I may be unfairly judging the authors here and the content has far more depth than the title suggests. That’s where I need your help.

What I’m looking for ideally are books that discuss the “reduce/reuse/recycle” topic broadly examining why waste is an issue, what needs to be done (by governments, manufacturers, retailers and consumers) to improve the situation and what barriers/obstacles exist. Then I’d like to get into practical steps I could take as a householder and consumer and whether there are community projects we could take in our neighbourhood.

I did come across one book that sounded promising: A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button, who is the founder of a website called Buy Me Once, a website that sells the longest-lasting version of everything. The blurb says the book goes beyond helping readers to reduce everyday waste, by examining the psychology of our purchase decisions and how we value things as consumers.

I’m interested also in authors who have tried to adopt a more waste-reduced life and have written about the challenges and successes. They could be people who have tackled plastic usage or food waste or paper wastage.

Or they could be individuals who have campaigned to get action by the people who manufacture and sell products — I was so impressed a few years ago for example about a story of two young girls who took on the Burger King chain over the plastic toys bundled into their meal deals which simply ended up in landfill. There was a similar story in Wales last year of a 10 year old girl who persuaded a major supermarket chain to stop stocking children’s magazines which contain plastic toys.

What I don’t want are books that are little more than listicles.

If you have any ideas, do pop them into the comments box below.

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