Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide

Several weeks ago Chelsea Green Publishing had a huge sale on books, during which we purchased several. Some of those books were ones I would not have purchased at regular price, but thought it was worth giving them a shot at a deeply discounted price. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide by Nicky Scott was one of those.

This is a small book, measuring approximately 5" x 6.5" and with only 94 pages. Nearly two-thirds of the book, 60 pages, is taken up by the A-Z Guide, which is an alphabetical list of various products with ideas of how to reuse or recycle them. The A-Z Guide is, at times, oddly specific, in ways that makes me think the author was trying to just fill space. As an example, a quarter of page 52 is taken up by the following:
Herbicides - see Chemicals
Household Cleaners - see Cleaning
Hypodermics - see Needles 
Personally, I can't imagine ever looking up hypodermics without even considering to check needles, when I didn't find a match. This sort of thing happens often throughout the A-Z Guide.

Most of the info in the A-Z Guide, though, is helpful. I can't say that I learned a great deal, but I have been recycling for quite some time. For someone new to recycling, I think this guide could be helpful. I'm sure the same information is readily available online, but it could be handy to have it compiled into one book, which is small enough to carry in a pocket.

The main reason I purchased this book is its promise to answer the question "What happens to the stuff you recycle?". I know very little about the actual recycling process, including sorting, availability of facilities to recycle various materials, uses for end products, etc, so was interested in learning more. Unfortunately this book failed to really answer those questions, although that isn't surprising given the small number of pages. The book does make some of the same statements about mixing of certain materials causing an entire load to be un-recyclable that I've heard before, but I have my doubts about the accuracy of this due to the variety of pre-sorting requirements of different recycling centers. The book was published in 2007, so it is very possible that many improvements have been made to the recycling process in the years since its initial publication date.

I can't really recommend this book at normal retail price, because I just don't feel that it contains enough information. However, I picked it up for, literally, a couple of dollars, so feel it was worth my investment. If you can pick it up cheap, you may find enough helpful tips to justify the cost. There is one situation, however, in which I think the book may be worth the full cost. I think it could make a good gift, especially for someone who isn't already recycling, or is just getting started.

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