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  • MacLehose Press
  • MacLehose Press

What We Leave Behind: A Birdwatcher's Dispatches from the Waste Catastrophe

Stanislaw Lubienski

2 Reviews

Rated 0

Pollution & threats to the environment

A clear-eyed look at the rubbish we create in our everyday lives, what happens to it, where it goes and whether it will outlive us.

"Everything looked perfect. Sand - unique Baltic sand, the best in the world - and the calm sea. But wait. Something was amiss. Something was wrong"

It starts with a day at the beach. A single white sock that somehow spoils everything. It's enough to send writer and ornithologist Stanislaw Lubienski on a quest to understand what we throw away, where it goes and whether it will be our legacy.

By analysing items he unearths on his trips into nature - a plastic bottle, a tube of Russian penis-enlargement cream, a cigarette butt, an empty aerosol can - tracing their origins and explaining the harm they can do, he shows how consumer society has developed out of control, to the point of environmental catastrophe.

He also looks with a birdwatcher's eye at how various animals have come to adapt to and even rely on our rubbish, and interrogates the cultural significance of waste and the origins of our throw-away lifestyles. Finally, he adds a personal touch by examining his own "environmental neurosis" and by going out with refuse crews to watch them work.

While Lubienski never hectors his readers, nor shames them, his clear-eyed, persuasive and humble polemic reminds us what we, as individuals, can and cannot do to address an apocalyptic issue while there's still something worth saving.

Translated from the Polish by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones

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Praise for What We Leave Behind: A Birdwatcher's Dispatches from the Waste Catastrophe

  • There's no hiding the fact that for most of us reading this book will be a lesson in preparing for the apocalypse, and a brutal stripping away of our illusions . . . But if we then sink into 'ecological neurosis', it's a sign that we're on the right path to liberating the Earth from the tyranny of trash - Polityka

  • This is only outwardly a book about trash. In fact, it is a sad and bitter report on the current state of the world - Gazeta Wyborcza

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