Waste Not Everyday

As the COVID-19 virus eats into our grocery and other supplies, perhaps it’s time, while we cool our heels at home, to reconsider our consumption.

In ‘Waste Not Everyday: Simple Zero-Waste Inspiration 365 Days a Year’ Erin Rhoads provides tips for every day of the year of ways towards making simple lifestyle changes so that our impact on the world is less about waste and more about meaning.

Today, as we are encouraged to stay at home, and perhaps ration our consumption a whole lot more, it is worth looking at the framework she proposes in her book, including the tenents we all know:

              • reduce
              • reuse
              • refuse
              • recycle

There are several others she proposes (her list includes 11 steps) but it is the order of her framework that matters.

You’ll note that recycling is towards the end. This is because the act of recycling is not the way to fix the problem: instead it simply delays items … from ending up in landfill. (From the introduction of Waste Not Everyday.)

There are lots of simple ideas in this book like, buying your fruit and vegetables loose – and then making sure you display them to ensure you eat them, supporting local growers markets and choosing seasonal foods. There are many tips and recipes for things like cleaners, shampoos and weedkiller – all better for the environment than most commercial varieties.

However, much of the book is to make us pause and think. Do we need more? Is there a better way? Can I repurpose something? Use it longer? Repair it?

A timely page I opened to today said:

# 162 Don’t let scary statistics weigh you down: channel energy into changes you can make in your home or community.

At this time of change in our world, it certainly can’t hurt to look at some of the 365 options Rhoads has gathered together in this book – and start to make a difference – a genuine impact on the future of our planet.

# This is also available as an ebook from many sources – an even better option?

Perspectives – And the Ocean was our Sky

Patrick Ness, the author of ‘a Monster Calls‘ and ‘the Chaos Walking‘ trilogy,  is known for looking at things from a different perspective – so the inverted point of view in ‘And the Ocean was our Sky‘ should come as no surprise.

It is a tale told from the point of view of Bathsheba. Who or what Bathsheba is, takes a while for the reader to determine. However, when this comes about, it really turns your thoughts upside down.

Thankfully, there is some revelation of the setting in the beautiful illustrations of Rovina Cai. These play an integral part of the story, creating a time to pause and reflect on the events in the text. They are also a  reminder that different worldviews exist; their swirling colours echo the turbulence of the tale. (Warning: some of these may upset young readers.)

Key character Bathsheba reluctantly works as an apprentice under Captain Alexandra, in brutal battles against their foe. She bemoans that she never wished to be a hunter, and it becomes clear that her acute thinking skills will come to the fore. She constantly questions the morality and reasons for their obsessive searches for the devil known as ‘Toby Wick’, and their aggressive hunt for ‘man-ships’.

And the Ocean was our Sky‘ begins with ‘Call me Bathsheba…’ – a line that mimics one from Herman Melville’s famous ‘Moby Dick’. Indeed, there are many clever nods to this famous tale – now told by Ness from a far different perspective, where the hunted becomes the hunter! Ness has also made some interesting choices when naming characters like Bathsheba, Alexandra, Demetrius and Wilhelmina – the work of a master craftsman, don’t you think?

The story questions the things which we may use to justify our actions, emotions and prejudices. Should there be a never-ending war, just because “So it has been, so it shall always be.”? Is the enemy real or a myth? Do we keep enemies in our minds without really knowing why? Can moral choice instead override the historical biases laid on a culture? Must Bathsheba continue to follow in her assigned role forever?

Below, Patrick Ness introduces his book:

 # This was read as an audiobook – but fortunately with the beautifully illustrated copy on hand. This was definitely a time where the physical book was essential!! 

## ‘A Monster Calls‘ was previously reviewed here.

Launching ‘the Godwits’

godwitsWhile this blog is mainly dedicated to reviewing Young Adult fiction, after attending the book launch of ‘the Godwits’ recently, I knew I had to write about it.

This is a tale that connects two worlds – and shows how they impact on one another, in spite of great distances and differing perspectives.

In one place, Gao Wei, the young son of Gao Da and Gao Shu, celebrates his birthday on the shores of the Yellow Sea in China; his new binoculars in hand. Many thousands of kilometres away, Gowie, a migratory bird also celebrates a birthday, as he awaits a momentous occasion.

Wei is passionate about birds, in much the same way as author Bruce Pickworth describes his own long-term passion for writing. Wei’s passion moves him to oppose a development which his father, Da, is meant to support in his work, and the battle begins. (Bruce’s has finally produced a picture book!)

In the other ‘world’, Gowie personifies the life of a Bar-tailed Godwit – an amazing bird which annually migrates between Australia/New Zealand and Alaska, via mainland China. We learn about the instincts these birds need to call upon, and the behaviour of the flock and who controls it. We are reminded that the power of the individual is not determined by size, but by attitude and relationships, when it comes to achieving leadership.

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As the tale develops, page by page, events in Wei’s life sit alongside those of Gowie; as each becomes stronger, and better acknowledged by others.

Dr Meredith Burgmann, who launched ‘the Godwits’, reminisced her own battles against developments threatening the environment. She also identified with many other aspects the book touches on like freedom of speech, feminist issues and family relationships. And then she wondered if it was time again for her to protest – in front of a grader about to start a demolition like Wei does in the story!

Author, Bruce Pickworth has combined a life-long passion for writing with a family interest in bird-watching, adventuring and natural discoveries. The result is a delightful tale which both entertains and informs, as Wei and Gowie overcome struggles put before them. Illustrator, Lorraine Robertson, provides gloriously detailed scenes to contrast the two worlds (as well as informing the astonishing fact pages). Authentic support from Birdlife Australia and their own personal histories bring Bruce and Lorraine together in achieving a wonderful project.

Once the story itself is finished, it is complemented by pages of amazing facts about Godwits, and actions that have been taken to ensure their migration path remain accessible  as the industrial world encroaches on these sites.

Here is another book to join those like Jeannie Baker’s ‘Circle’ to both entertain and inform our younger readers – and stun and amaze older readers, by presenting great visuals, and an appealing story for important environmental issues we must all consider. (It may be interesting to use them as comparative texts?)

* Copies of the book and teachers notes are available from Bullawai Books. The trade and school distributor is INT BOOKS – intbooks.online