The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Zero Waste Solution
Untrashing the  Planet One Community at a Time
by Paul Connett
Foreword by Jeremy Irons
400 pages, paperback, B&W Images, 6” x 9”
Published by: Chelsea Green, October 11, 2013
ISBN: 9781603584890

Zero Waste"The Zero Waste Solution is for all those concerned about humanity's heal the and environment. Essential reading for anyone fighting landfills, incineration, over-packaging, and the other byproducts of our unthinking and irresponsible throwaway society." ~ Jeremy Irons, actor; executive producer of Trashed

Waste is something we make every day, but we rarely give it much thought. That is changing, though, as emerging programs around the globe show many ways in which a community can achieve zero-waste status.

In The Zero Waste Solution, author and scientist-turned-activist Paul Connett profiles the most successful zero-waste initiatives around the world, showing activists, planners, and entrepreneurs how to re-envision their community’s waste-handling process by doing the following:

  • Consuming less;

  • Turning organic waste into compost;

  • Recycling and reusing other waste;

  • Demanding non-wasteful product design; and,

  • Creating jobs and bringing community members together in the process.

Connett is a leading international figure in the decades-long battles to fight pollution and has championed efforts to curtail over-consumption and keep industrial toxins out of our air, drinking water, and bodies. He is best known around the world for leading efforts to help communities sustainably eliminate and reuse waste rather than burn it or stow it away in landfills.

In addition to showing how zero-waste status can be achieved, Connett exposes the greenwashing behind renewed efforts to promote waste incinerators as safe, nontoxic energy suppliers.

The book offers detailed information on how communities can battle incinerators that emit dangerous particles into the atmosphere. And they (almost) all do.

The Zero Waste Solution is an important tool kit for anyone interested in creating sustainable communities, generating secure local jobs, and keeping toxic alternatives at bay. And this book should be compulsory reading for anyone connected with waste “management” and especially here those in local government, as well as those in product and packaging design.

This is another one of those books that has been acquiring – during my review reading – post-it note flags by the tonne and that all for positive reasons. In this case mostly so I can find passages for future reference, as Zero Waste Solutions has so much to say that makes sense and it points the way forward.

“Zero waste is not utopian”, as the Vice-Mayor of Naples, Tommaso Sodano, said, “but the only way to go if we wish to be a sustainable city”. This comment could be expanded to say that zero waste is the only way to go if we want to have and see a sustainable world.

The author, and this is the only comment other than absolutely positive that I want to make about this, always mentions odors as a problem with (domestic) composting programs. However, a proper compost heap should not have bad or foul odor emanating from it. If it does then there is something wrong with what has been put into it.

Is Zero Waste, I mean total zero waste, as advocated by the author of this book, possible? Not only must it be made possible; it is the only way.

People, communities,m are not the problem towards a zero waste goal. Politicians and vested interests are, as in so many fields of sustainability. All too often zero waste, when mentioned by politicians, whether of local or central government, means zero waste to landfill; in other words a diversion of residual waste from landfill to incinerator instead of eliminating such waste. Whether it is just that those politicians are unable to understand the concept or whether they are in the pay of the vested interest groups is something people will have to judge for themselves. I believe that in many cases it is, as with so many other subjects, be this fracking, deposit schemes on glass bottles (and jars), and much more, the fact is that vested interest groups have been going about handing out gifts.

In closing I will say again what I said already earlier in that I suggest that the book “The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time” be made compulsory reading for all involved in so-called waste management and also those in design of products and packaging.

About the Author

Dr. Paul Connett is the Director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), and the Executive Director of its parent body, the American Environmental Health Studies Project (AEHSP). He has spoken and given more than 2,000 presentations in forty-nine states and fifty-two countries on the issue of waste management. He holds a bachelors degree from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College and is a retired professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology at St. Lawrence University. He lives in Binghamton, New York.

© 2013