Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It” as Want to Read:
Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Ever-expanding landfills, ocean gyres filled with floating plastic mush, endangered wildlife. Our garbage has become a massive and exponentially growing problem in modern society. Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky explores why this crisis exists and explains how can we solve it by eliminating the very idea of garbage. To outsmart waste, he says, we first have to understand it, th ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published November 4th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Outsmart Waste, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Outsmart Waste

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  122 ratings  ·  36 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a well written book by the CEO of TerraCycle, Tom Szaky.

This is yet another book on garbage, waste, recycling, repurposing, that I have committed to read, learn and institute in my life. I thought my family and I were doing a fine job,but with each book I read, I recognize something I’m not doing properly. So this makes me understand why many people are too busy or confused to sort their garbage or are uneducated on what exactly is the right thing to do. I thought I was a concerned and
Heidi The Reader
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The stand out idea for me (just because I didn't know all that much about it) was the section on "Planned Breakability".

"Today, more than 150 years after the light bulb was invented, an average modern incandescent bulb lasts 750 hours. So why is there an incandescent light bulb in Livermore, California that has been burning nonstop for 110 years? It's because in 1924 in Geneva, all the light bulb manufacturers got together and created a cartel, at the time called Phoebus, to cut the life of a li
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up from the library because the title and topic of this book intrigued me. While the enviroment has never been "my cause" I still think it's important to be educated about things and also to do what I can to be a good stewart of the resources I have.

Tom Szaky's Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It is interesting though slightly disappointing. At the beginning of the book he gives a history and science lesson about waste and how we as a
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this free from goodreads.
Tom Szaky does an amazing job at making recycling, reusing and reworking garbage attractive. He covers reusing, upcycling and recycling in an informative and non threatening or preaching way. The book gives you tons of facts and an equal amount of solutions to the problem. The book left me motivated to apply these new ideas to my own life. I was left viewing trash as a resource and not a negative thing.
Hayley Shaver
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. It talks about how to see waste differently. It touches on upcycling. It goes in depth about recycling and waste stream. It goes in depth also about incineration. It told me things I never even knew about waste. I would buy this book if I didn't win it from goodreads first reads free. ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I took so many notes on this book! It is filled to the brim with useful, practical, and important information on a sorely underestimated topic. The amount of waste we produce in this world is rampant and destroying our home, our health, and our future. Due to rampant, blind consumerism we've managed to plague oceans and acres alike with our garbage. "Outsmart Waste" outlines the problem and offers many solutions that we can all take, even in small ways, to create a less "trashy" world. I found a ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
An informative read on how our waste is currently handled, the big gaping holes in the system and the roles we play to facilitate the economics of this industry. This should be taught in all schools! If you’ve read the Konmari Method and Zero Waste Home this book is a useful tool to supplement your journey.
Adriana Marí
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For me EVERYONE on this planet should read this book, actually it should be a mandatory on school reading. This is an amazing book if you are starting to get interested in having a more sustainable way of living. You are gonna be surprised with where your garbage ends up and everything that we are doing that is wrong.
Doug Glenning
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such an eye opening book! I knew that recycling can vary by state, but did not know how largely ineffective and incomplete a process it can be. It can be one tool in the box to solve our world's environmental problems, but I love how this book also calls attention to a compendium of ways to make a healthy planet a reality! ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
As someone who has become more environmentally conscious, I think this is a great introductory book. It’s easy to read, informative and overall a step in the right direction in educating ourselves about the waste we produce and the simple ways we, as individuals, can contribute to clean up our planet.
Joseph Reilly
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very important and insightful book that opens the lid into the world of garbage (sorry for bad pun). Szaky gives a full view and sniff into our barbaric systems of waste management. He goes a step further with solutions to our garbage problem. This book really resonated with me and it has already changed my behavior especially concerning composting, recycling and up-cycling.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Want to find solutions for the waste in your life? This is a great book to help you rethink waste. Great read, informative, and inspired me to think differently about waste and reduce waste in general.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
Thinking about waste is a big thing. If you've been reading zero waste and other environmental works, there isn't much new here but it is still a title to read. I got excited at upcycling and I am inspired to, one again, try to reduce my garbage somehow. ...more
Diane Wang
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit dry, but very informative
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Delivers what it promises. Short and to the point, which I always appreciate.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
It has good information but it seems like the author copied the story of stuff
Rebecca Watts
A great little quick read.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A good book on a topic we as a society need to discuss more, but ultimately quite repetitive. Still, the points are worth repeating, so read it for the wisdom.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this !! I already knew a fair bit and doing much of it, but I did learn so much more. And most importantly to look at waste as a value and not as garbage.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I started reading Outsmart Waste expecting it to be a recycling guide similar to other books of that type but it turned out to be much more than that. While it does focus on reusing, reducing, recycling, and upcycling it really goes in depth about garbage and what we can (and need to) do about it. It offers solutions about common and not-so-common garbage areas, current problems and solutions regarding garbage at not only the individual level but also societal and industrial levels, different ty ...more
Tatiana Gomez
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A quick and easy primer on the modern day disaster that is the waste industry--and what we, as consumers, can do about it. Although Szaky's message can veer a bit extremist at times, and he makes the most of every opportunity to mention his company's name, the information and solutions offered here are relevant, realistic, and accessible. I found myself jotting down quick notes on things I can actually do today to make a small impact. I also really appreciate the accessibility of this book--Szak ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I'm quite taken with Szaky's company TerraCycle and I love what they are trying to do by innovating recycling. But rather than get people to recycle things like cigarettes, plastic bags, or diapers or even gum and chip bags: why not push for people to reduce and/or stop purchasing those items. Certainly, he does talk about the need to reduce and to play an active role as a consumer in telling people to vote at the cash register. But why not tal ...more
Michael Kochuga
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
When approached by anyone interested in but poorly educated in the realm of recycling this novel can be seen as an excellent source but to anyone reasonably environmentally conscious this is not ground breaking. Some of the ideas presented seem well thought out if a little poorly flittered. There seems an air of disapproval toward the production and use of materials seen as 'less than natural'. Advancement requires creation. Mankind is part of nature, everything we produce is constructed of natu ...more
Chanel Earl
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
This book, or one like it, should be required reading. I have been feeling pressure recently to reduce our families waste and live more simply, so it came at the right time for me. I think the ideas presented here are simple, logical and easy to follow. I really liked how the information was organized into a clear graphic that presented the ways to manage waste and that it began with ways to stop it from being created.

I skipped a few sections because the information wasn't new and I wanted to g
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was an eye opener for me in terms of trash lifecycle. Sure I knew that the trash that leaves our homes ends up in landfills, but what happens to it in those landfills was something I didn't know about. While it was saddening to read about that, getting to know that seemingly un-recyclable trash (like cigarette butts) can actually be upcycled/recycled filled me with hope!

I believe everyone should read this book because knowledge in this books directly affects us all. This is basic stuff
Jet Jones
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Eh, it was ok. Took some concepts of the waste issues we have today and made them easy to understand. So that was good. However his solutions are many oversimplifications piled on top of one another. Not to mention the inherent injustice issues with the "vote with your dollar" argument: if you have no dollar does that mean you don't get a vote? All that on top of some pretty sad attempts at humor and pretty sub-par writing leave you with just eh... ...more
Tracy Morgan
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First off I should mention I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I found this to be a fascinating read. It gave me a lot of information and ideas on ways to reduce garbage. I'll be spending the next few weeks, thinking about ways I can limit my impact on the amount of garbage I use. Excellent book and I definitely recommend it. ...more
Richard Bon
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. And if everyone who reads it changes 1 or 2 of their consumer habits with regard to producing waste, that would move the needle on reducing waste across the world. This is such a quick read and so informative, with such a simple but important message, everyone should read it.
Stacy Schmidt
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book is an easy, quick read, but is good at getting you to think differently about waste. The tips in it will be pretty basic for many sustainability-focused people, but it provides a great overview for those who are newer to the topic. I could easily recommend this book to family and friends.
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
It is short and sweet. It is pretty basic but gives you food for thought about how to not produce so much garbage.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale
  • Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade
  • Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber
  • The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery
  • God Went to Beauty School
  • Introduction to Toxicology
  • The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have
  • Star Trek: The Spock vs. Q Collection (Gift Set) (Spock Vs. Q, #1-2)
  • The Disciple of Las Vegas (Ava Lee, #2)
  • Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong
  • 82년생 김지영
  • The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy
  • The Girl Who Reads on the Métro
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal
  • An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good
  • Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations
  • The Dragon Head of Hong Kong (Ava Lee, #0.5)
See similar books…
Tom Szaky is the CEO and founder of TerraCycle, a company that makes consumer products from waste.

Szaky's parents are medical doctors, and Szaky himself is an only child. At age four, Szaky left his home in Hungary after the Chernobyl disaster. In 1987, Szaky immigrated to Canada, where he grew up in Toronto. Szaky attended high school at Upper Canada College. He attended college at Princeton Univ

News & Interviews

  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
6 likes · 4 comments