Julia L.F. Goldstein offers environmental research and information in her upcoming book Rethink the Bins: Your Guide to Smart Recycling and Less Household Waste. Her first book, Material Value covered a lot of manufacturing processes and a little household advice. On the other hand, Rethink the Bins is entirely directed at our individual households. It’s full of detailed everyday advice and planning worksheets.

Goldstein’s writing style is mostly businesslike. Even so, she’s admirably transparent about her own household’s exploration of this process. More importantly, she breaks down the most common types of household waste. Then she explains what’s most or least recyclable. How easy it is to recycle each material depends on your community’s policies. And in the last few years, a lot of places changed what could be recycled curbside. Goldstein explains that as well.

Since I live in small-town Pennsylvania, my recycling options are a bit different than the author’s. Perhaps that’s because she lives in the environmentally conscious Pacific Northwest. But either way, if you’re motivated to keep recyclable materials out of landfills this is a terrific resource.

Goldstein explains what to look for in your community guidelines. Next, she introduces alternatives if curbside recycling isn’t available for all your household waste. She even introduces readers to composting food waste.

My conclusions

One major section in Rethink the Bins is about tracking your household waste—by pound, item, or volume. The average household generates between 4.5 and 8 pounds of waste per person per day. It’s an astounding figure if you start multiplying just your own household and nearby community. Expand to your state and country, and it’s both staggering and motivating.

A few years ago, one of our nephews and his wife decided to save a year’s worth of household waste. Why? Because their new apartment didn’t have recycling facilities. So, they collected plastic, magazines, glass, and metal waste. At the end of the year, they did a photo shoot.  It’s a great visual to go with Goldstein’s book. 

I recommend Rethink the Bins if you’re curious or concerned about the state of recycling in your household, community, and the world. Watch for its publication date on November 30, 2020.

Pair it with something else about the environment, either related to climate change or materials usage.


Many thanks to the author for an advanced readers’ copy in exchange for this honest review.