A warm tribute to an unsung hero of the environmentalist movement.
Every day we hold the results of her labors in our hands. Disturbed by the heedless dumping rampant in the United States and inspired by seeing the way many Japanese households were sorting their trash for collection, Milly Zantow and a friend cashed in their life insurance policies, bought an industrial shredder, and, in 1979, opened a recycling center in their Wisconsin town. That was just the start: along with leading grass-roots efforts with schoolchildren and others to collect discarded items and, equally vital, finding customers for the shredded material (notably a local yo-yo factory), Zantow became an effective advocate for recycling programs everywhere. Beyond that, though, she went on to be instrumental in seeing that the seven little identifying numbers inside triangles that make large-scale plastics recycling possible were adopted as a universal, industrywide standard. (The backmatter includes a chart of the seven plastic resins and their typical uses.) Moser bases her account of Zantow’s life (she died in 2014) and work on interviews with her and her family members, plus a family history. Ritchie’s cartoon sketches of landfills, littered beaches, and trash collectors at work add visual emphasis to the author’s side notes on plastics pollution, yo-yos, and the promise of biodegradable plastics.
Required reading for young eco-activists. (glossary, resource lists) (Biography. 8-11)