Wasteland: The Dirty Truth About What We Throw Away, Where It Goes, and Why It Matters

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Wasteland: The Dirty Truth About What We Throw Away, Where It Goes, and Why It Matters

Wasteland: The Dirty Truth About What We Throw Away, Where It Goes, and Why It Matters

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Companies, he argues, should be forced to reveal the waste footprint of their goods; problem materials should be “designed out” to make all products recyclable, biodegradable or both; greenwashing – when a firm makes false boasts about its sustainability – should be illegal; and “a fully and equitably funded waste system” created to make businesses pay to remove their waste wherever it ends up, “whether that be in the Thames or a Ghanaian gutter”. Waste is not the most appealing subject for a book," admits Oliver Franklin-Wallis in the introduction.

What’s worse, a lot of the time these actions are not always even better than the behaviors they replace. On the way, we discover the corporate greenwashing that started the recycling movement; the dark truth behind our second-hand donations; and come face to face with the 10,000-year legacy of our nuclear waste.Cotton tote bags, for example, must be used 7,100 times before they are more environmentally friendly than using the single-use plastic bag they replace, according to a 2018 study by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food. While we congratulate ourselves on saving the planet, traders in Africa are left to eke out a living from poor-quality fast fashion.

In Wasteland, Oliver Franklin-Walls offers us a behind the scenes guide to the processing plants, rubbish tips and refuse mountains that lurk in our back yards; the thundering machinery and skilled workers who strive tirelessly to relieve us of the spoils of our own profligacy. It might be burned, buried, reconstituted or sent on an expedition to new lands, where it might be burned, buried or reconstituted.Also, this book drives home the point of how the ever growing problem of trash is derived from overconsumption. Like the way he presents the info actually makes me want to try in a way I never have wanted to before. Again and again, we are scouring the innards of the Earth and filling the empty void with our waste. This book made me feel bleak, but it did end on a note that did convince me that while our current recycling practices are highly flawed, it’s still the best we got. As Franklin-Wallis also addresses the successes and limitations of recycling, Wasteland is an all-encompassing journey into what we throw away.

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