To dumpster dive, to glean, perchance to dream of a zero-waste world.
Mulder tells the garbage story in clean and engrossing prose, complemented by stock artwork and photographs. Humans have always made trash—eat that wooly mammoth leg, and you are left with a wooly mammoth bone—though trash production took off exponentially with the establishment of settled communities. What is trash, asks Mulder? Trash is something that no longer is useful. But use is in the eye of the beholder. An empty yogurt container could be chucked out the car window, or it could serve as a pencil holder. Old jeans can be used for housing insulation, as can tires or books or, weirdly, toothbrushes. Mulder provides all sorts of alternatives to incineration, landfills and ocean dumping. She explorers the cons of recycling—it can produce as much methane as cows; it consumes a lot of energy; it results in an often weakened product—as well as many pros, and she throws in plenty of mind-twisting sidebars: Yes, those styrene containers keeping your fast-food burger warm may well be serving you a dose of brain damage. Ultimately Mulder suggests we not make it in the first place.
Enclosed in these pages is plenty of food for thought and examples for direct action. (Nonfiction. 8-12)