Member Reviews

Oliver Franklin-Wallis's quest to figure out where trash goes took him all over the world. The stories are harrowing and illustrate the cost that major garbage producers inflict worldwide. He looks at a variety of different types of garbage and explores the cost of several industries, including single-use plastics and fast fashion. This book will make you question not just what you discard but what you buy in the first place.

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Eye opening book. It took me a little while to read because this is not my normal genre of books that I read but it was truly worth the read.

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This investigative, readable deep-dive into waste management systems and issues both locally and globally is interesting and horrifying. I learned so much about how waste is handled that I was clueless about before. There are no easy answers—it very clearly becomes apparent we are offloading our trash onto the Global South and countries least equipped to handle it—and there is no way for real change to happen without large-scale systems and policies in place. This book should be on everyone’s radar. Read it to be fascinated by our biggest ongoing creation and nightmare.

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When you throw things out in the garbage or for recycling, do you wonder where it goes? Do you wonder if it gets a second change or if it goes into a dump?

Wasteland is a well researched book doing a deep dive and describing these and other practices of the waste management industry. And it is an industry - a multibillion dollar industry that doesn’t want you to know just how much we waste and where it goes.

Wasteland is a book that should be on everyone’s radar. We need more solutions on our waste problems and if everyone reads this, maybe we can get more people held accountable.

Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Books for this eARC. Wasteland is out now.

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Wasteland: The Secret World of Waste and the Urgent Search for a Cleaner Future doesn't seem like an interesting read. It certainly isn't what you'll see at your next book club meeting or recommended as a light fun read for your next vacation trip, BUT it is so informative and enlightening that I highly recommend it to all around me. Oliver Franklin-Wallis not only researched all about waste, but takes us on his first hand journey to different locations around the world in where our waste ends up. I remember the first time I watched Pixar's Wall-E, with the trash mounds everywhere across Earth, and this is a frightening realistic view of where we are headed. We are consuming everything, to the point we are running through resources we can't replenish, fresh water, untoxic earth, clean air. Within these pages, you also meet some interesting characters, Compost Joe for one, that while we can't fix everything, shows us a path forward that we can each do at least something. Very informative and highly recommended!!!
*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my own opinion*

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A readable and well researched book on the world of waste management, I had the opportunity to learn more about the worldwide waste problem. Before reading this book, I was familiar with the practice of shipping waste from first world countries off to third world countries for responsible processing, but I had no idea how much waste will still remain about the usable parts were stripped clean. I was also left with the feeling that we really need more renewable, eco friendly practices in waste management, but the solution is far, far in the future due to the hold that many big businesses have on global trade, and to an extent, country-level politics.

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A readable and deeply researched book on the black box that is waste management. Realizing the scope of global waste mismanagement is incredibly dispiriting, but necessary. There are no easy solutions given here, as we are well past individual action having a noticeable impact - however, it will make me even more cognizant of packaging and waste going forward.
An excellent read.

Thank you to the publisher, via NetGalley, for providing an arc for review.

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An engrossing well written book detailing the fate of waste materials in our world. The actual story of how we dispose of our waste materials from plastics to textiles is a horrifying and eye-opening look at big business and how our perceptions of these profit-based entities are influenced by slick marketing.

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This is amazing. I learned a lot about recycling in China. I literally had no idea. I also learned a lot about the waste in the UK. I never even thought about it before.
I highly recommend this.

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As a planet we have a lot of waste. Impulse buys that end up in the trash months later. Appliances that are made with a shorter life span. Plastic…so much plastic that the author mentions plastic bags floating by in the depths of the Mariana Trench. Oliver Franklin-Wallis investigates where this waste actually ends up and none of it is good news. He visits waste mountains in India, recycling facilities, incinerators and islands created to hold trash. It is not enough and it is a problem that needs to be figured out quickly before we all are buried beneath our own waste. Sometimes this felt like it could have been shorter and I struggled at times to pick it back up, but it is an important account of a very huge problem.

I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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Oliver Franklin-Wallis
Pub Date: July 18, 2023

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Have you ever wondered what really happens to what we throw away?

In Wasteland, journalist Oliver Franklin-Wallis takes us on a shocking journey inside the global waste crisis and the waste industry—the secretive multi-billion dollar world that underpins the modern economy, quietly profiting from what we leave behind.

From details of the waste economy to what abysmal amount of your recycling actually ends up recycled; Franklin-Wallis followed this story to every dirty corner of the world giving the reader a whole picture view.

Swipe right for a few facts>>>

I recommend this wonderfully written must read to everyone who lives on this planet.

Thank you NetGalley and Hachette Books for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

#bookstagram #NetGalley #hachettebooks #readersofinstagram #ARC #nonfiction #nonfictionbooks #wasteland #oliverfranklinwallis #wasteindustry #wasteeconomy #readmore #readmorebooks #wastecrisis #investigativejournalism

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In Wasteland, GQ editor Franklin-Wallis examines what happens to garbage after we bring it to the dump. It is a fascinating journey full of discoveries and posing many questions. The book also exposes how we contribute to the environmental disaster by being negligently wasteful. Author manages to making this 'gross' subject absorbing. Even though he doesn't have ready remedies, bringing attention to the topic and educating people who are mostly happily unaware is already helpful. His advice to buy less, and three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle - seem like a feasible goal to set, It's an urgent topic well delivered.

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This book is equal parts fascinating and disturbing. I learned so much about garbage and the process it goes through after it gets thrown away. I liked the way the author shares the findings from his research without sounding judgmental.

It’s interesting to sit down and really think about as a society how we just throw things away so easily. Always in search of the next gadget. And to think that gadget might end up in a huge landfill in a third world country. Very eye opening.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about trash and the effects it has on the world. Honestly, everyone should read this book.

✨Thank you to @hachettebooks for the gifted ARC to read and review.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Hachette Books for an advance copy of this look at the waste we make, what happens to it, and how our not dealing with it is going to really shape our future.

My mom had her kitchen redone about 5 years ago. During the Pandemic she had to call 5 times for people to come and fix her new refrigerator for the same problem. During her last service call the rep told her well things are being built to last anymore. Her old refrigerator was 24 years old and worked so well the carpenter who redid the kitchen still has it in his basement, working away. So if a say a couple of thousand dollar refrigerator has to be replaced in New England in five years, how many of these other ones will be. Yes they might be stripped for parts, copper wiring, and parts that don't seem to stay fixed. Maybe the plastic inside can be recycled, though after reading this book I have my doubts on that. Still maybe 50-70 pounds can't be saved, this happens everyday. And it builds up. Higher and higher as mountains of garbage in India show. And we still keep throwing things out. Welcome to the the fascinating world of waste, trash, medical, biological even nuclear, and all the threats that come with it, and the money that is made exploiting it. Wasteland: The Secret World of Waste and the Urgent Search for a Cleaner Future by journalist Oliver Franklin-Wallis is a look at how countries deal with waste, make money on it, ditch it on others, and what the future of this world might be like.

Oliver Franklin-Wallis had a thought. Where does all waste from these recycle bins go. And so Franklin-Wallis decided to find out. Soon even in the midst of a Pandemic Franklin-Wallis began to travel the world and see how waste was treated, some of the companies making money on it, and what the future might hold for dealing with waste. In India he saw giant mountains of garbage and families picking through it, looking for things that could be sold, electronics, copper, anything that could make money. Franklin-Wallis also saw high tech recycling plants, that clean break down and resell plastic bottles to manufacturers to make new bottles. As Franklin-Wallis investigated, the more problems he found. Corporations gaming the system, governments playing with numbers, or making it harder and harder for waste places to open, because honestly who wants that in their backyard, even if the company releases smells of cotton and other nice things in the air. Franklin-Wallis even discusses medical and nuclear waste and the the numerous difficulties those have to process.

A book that teaches alot about a world and business that not many people know about, but one that effects the whole planet. And the future really doesn't look that good. Franklin-Wallis does a very good job of explaining the various processes these companies have, what happens to our waste, in a way that is very clear and makes sense. I was aware about the numbers on plastic recycling but never knew what they were for, or really how useless they were. There are a lot of revelations, some interesting scientifically, some that will keep me up at night with more things to worry about. The amount of money in waste is fascinating, along with the history that Franklin-Wallis covers, and really makes for a very informative read.

Not a trashy book, but one that teaches us alot about the packaging of our food, the price both monetarily and physical for a lot of the items we use, and the price also for convenience. Actions have a reaction, and for all the whining from a certain political party about not getting straws anymore, well it looks like there is a lot more that we should be giving up. Ultimately that is what the book leaves one with, humans really can't change easily, and dealing with our waste is going to take a lot of change. Highly recommended, and one that will hopefully start a few conversations.

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I'm the kind of person that worries, a lot, about everything. This includes worrying about whether my recycling is really being recycled or not, wondering where my trash is actually going, and frequently reminding myself that I should start composting. So naturally, I was interested in this book, because I want to know what impact my consumption is having. I knew it wasn't going to be great news, but this book even surpassed my expectations for how grim and depressing the truth would be!

The chapters of this book are like a personal tour of different kinds of waste: landfills, recycling (especially plastics), fashion/textiles, food waste, electronic waste, industrial waste, etc. The author is a journalist, and this book often reads a bit like a news piece, but in more detail and depth. It has a first-person feel to it, documenting the interactions the author has with workers that are directly involved in many of the trades that manage our waste. I think this makes the writing more engaging, but I was also nagged by the suspicion that maybe the book didn't include many voices of other experts that might be studying the problem of waste at a higher level.

The end of the book has a simple message from the author: we should probably buy less stuff. As a person who was already trying to do this before reading this book, I think the grim depictions of what happens to my stuff after I throw it away gives me stronger motivation to watch what I consume. At the same time, I wish there had been some suggestions for what readers could do to impact the higher-level policy decisions that impact what waste is produced and how it is managed.

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In the mid-1980s when my husband worked The United Methodist Committee on Relief he was sent to tour the garbage dumps of Cairo to see the community that lived there, picking through the trash for things they could sell. UMCOR was working to provide clean water and health care to the community. He brought back slides that amazed me.

I grew up with “give a hoot, don’t pollute.” I remember the first Earth Day and wore the pinback button “give earth a chance” I bought that day for years. I took ecology in college and an organic gardening class as a young woman. We have recycled for fifty-one years, starting when we had to haul newspaper, glass, and cans to a monthly recycling center. We average under 4,000 miles a year on our car and have kept cars for a dozen years. We cook from scratch, grow lettuce and herbs and vegetables, and buy from the local farm market. I use old linens instead of paper towels and fabric napkins instead of paper. I have fabric shopping bags, take Styrofoam to the recycling center and plastic bags to the grocery store. I buy in glass jars whenever I can. I could go on, but the point is, I have tried to make good choices. And I know it isn’t enough.

I think of the phones and tablets and computers that died or were unsupported and replaced. Even our new bathroom scale has a rechargeable battery and a limited life span. There are the delivered packages of books and food in cardboard boxes we then recycle. The expensive supportive shoes that wear out too quickly.

We make a lot of waste. Perhaps less than some, but because of our standard of living, more than most of the world. And a lot of that waste is in landfills, preserved for decades, and in dumps across the world.

Wasteland begins on the personal level, looking at recycling and composting and food waste, the things we can sort of control. And then, it moves on to sanitation and health care, industrial and manufacturing waste and pollution of water, air and soil, forever chemicals, and finally nuclear waste.

It starts out informative and entertaining, but the end of the book, I was soberly concerned and almost hopeless. What can I as a private citizen do?

The modern economy is built on trash.

from Wasteland by Oliver Franklin-Wallis
Planned obsolescence started early. The author notes that a lightbulb has continued to burn since 1901! The light bulb manufacturers gathered in 1925 and agreed to redesign the life span of the bulbs! Manufacturers need to push sales. There are the new, improved products to spur binge buying, the new clothing styles–and as a quilter, new and limited quilt fabric lines to snag buyer’s eyes.

My generation and the generation older than me have too much stuff, and it isn’t stuff wanted by our children and grandchildren–the heirloom good china, silverplate, figurines, and embroidered linens aren’t modern enough. My quilt friends despair because no one wants their “outdated” quilts that are the wrong color or style. The thrift stores will soon be deluged with our stuff. And not all of that stuff finds new homes.

If buying less stuff is a major way to fight waste, how do we buy less stuff? And if we buy less stuff, what does that do to jobs and the economy?

The author notes that some governments and major corporations are taking steps to create a “circular economy,” making packaging biodegradable or recyclable. There are ways to turn waste into biogas, fertilizer, and other useful products. Products can be harvested for needed heavy metals, gold, and even uranium. New industries to deal with our waste could provide jobs.

There is a lot to absorb in this book, and a lot to consider.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.

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This unfortunately was a “did not finish” for me. I found it wordy, pedantic, and spent too much time on details that felt trivial in the pursuit of telling a magazine story. That being said, there’s absolutely an audience for this book — it’s just not for me.

Readers of the New Yorker or longer, essay writing that prioritizes prose would likely love this. Readers of more stereotypical nonfiction should proceed with caution - the lyrical writing is gorgeous, but not what I love to spend my time with personally.

The concept is one that is approached in an intriguing angle and allows space to grieve and ponder the ongoing climate crisis.

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"Waste is not the most appealing subject for a book," admits Oliver Franklin-Wallis in the introduction. But don't let appearances fool you. From the very first pages you will realise that this is not only an important topic, but a fascinating one. After all, our 'modern economy is built on trash', as the author convincingly demonstrates in each chapter. Waste management plays an important role in modern capitalism, global inequality, post-colonialism and, of course, environmental degradation.

For me, the most interesting (and infuriating) chapters were the ones on plastics and the illusion of recycling, which is mostly about clearing our consciences and generating more sales for multinational corporations. But I enjoyed the whole book, written with journalistic flair, combining on-the-ground reporting with fascinating data and a crash course in the history of waste, which is really the history of mankind.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in the workings of the modern world and concerned about its future.

Thanks to the publisher, Hachette Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of Wasteland by Oliver Franklin-Wallis. I am a big fan of non-fiction, and this one was absolutely a page turner for me. The author is based in the UK, but is able to take on different areas of the topic from a global perspective. I enjoyed that this book talked about topics that I was familiar with like compost, recycling (or not), water pollution, landfills, and burning waste in a way that was so detailed that I was able to learn something new in each chapter. Possibly the best part of this author's journey to understand the often unseen nuances of waste was the stories he told about the people he met along the way. This book was 5 stars for me, and I will keep it on my list of books that make great gifts as well.

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Comprehensive Look At The World Of Waste. I've seen bits and pieces of some of this in some books, such as Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Unraveled by Macine Bedat, Worn Out by Alyssa Hardy, Pipe Dreams by Chelsea Wald, and Sewer by Jessica Leigh Hester, just to name a few. And I've even lived a version of some of it, having worked at a US nuclear waste disposal facility a couple of times over a period of a couple of years. But this is the first book I've ever found that really covers all aspects of waste from nearly every possible angle. About the only glaring omission, perhaps, is space junk - the orbital debris that causes headaches for new and existing satellites and the International Space Station and could one day cause a *major* problem terrestrially via knocking all satellites out of usability (an issue known as the Kessler Effect, and used quite well in the late Matthew Mather's Cyber Storm trilogy of fiction).

But what Franklin-Wallis *does* cover, he truly does cover in remarkable depth and clarity, using a combination of direct interviews and scholarly research to give both a human face to each particular issue and ground it in its full severity. This books is truly quite eye opening in several different respects, and will likely greatly add to the overall discussion of the topic... assuming enough people read it. Which is, in part, where this review comes in. Go read the book already. :)

The documentation is *maybe* *slightly* low at about 21% of the overall text, but this is actually within the lower bound of "normal" in my experience, and thus not worthy of a star deduction nor even true criticism, I'm simply noting it because I try to make a similar note in most non-fiction reviews.

Overall truly an excellent book full of both reality and hope, and very much recommended.

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