Review of Zero Waste: How One Community Is Leading a World Recycling Revolution

How One Community Is Leading a World Recycling RevolutionZero Waste: How One Community Is Leading a World Recycling Revolution [Green Power]
by Allan Drummond; illus. by the author
Primary    Farrar    40 pp.
3/23    9780374388409    $19.99

Drummond (Solar Story, rev. 5/20; Pedal Power, rev. 1/17) continues to spotlight communities that adopt environmentally sustainable projects. This time, he takes readers to Kamikatsu, Japan, a small mountain town with big ambitions. The narrative centers on two children visiting their spunky, dedicated, proverb-sharing grandmother, a lifelong resident of Kamikatsu who explains the town’s environmental history. Years earlier there had been no waste collection service, so residents dumped and burned their refuse, creating not only eyesores and noxious smells but also poisonous dioxins in the air, soil, and water. In 2003, citizens of Kamikatsu declared that by 2020 they would produce zero waste. Impossible? Almost, but today, through “Chiritsumo!” (as Grandma says, or “Perseverance is power!”), more than eighty percent of the town’s waste is recycled. While ­Drummond depicts some citizens grousing about the ­proclamation, more often his breezy, humorous ­watercolors show them eagerly ­engaging in “­Mottainai!” (“Waste not, want not,” or reduce, reuse, recycle.) Residents not only compost but also painstakingly divide their waste into dozens of different containers. The rewards are great: new, younger inhabitants; a tourist-attracting hotel constructed entirely of recycled materials; and the creation of a Zero Waste Academy where individuals come from all over the world to study the project. Best of all, the book shares the local sense of “Kachou fuugetsu!” (“Experience the beauty of nature. Learn about yourself!”) This inspiring account concludes with an author’s note and suggestions for further reading.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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