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Children's Nonfiction Environmental Conservation & Protection

What a Waste

Where Does Our Garbage Go?

by (author) Claire Eamer

illustrated by Bambi Edlund

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2017
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Recycling & Green Living, General
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Hold your nose while you read about the disgustingly fascinating world of garbage! What a Waste! answers the question: when we throw something away, where is “away”? Ever since cave people cracked open seafood shells for dinner, humans have produced garbage, and we’ve had to figure out what to do with it. What a Waste! explores the history of garbage from earliest times to today, covering subjects including dumps, human waste, water pollution, “problem” garbage, and modern “throwaway” culture. From islands made out of 5,000-year-old garbage in the Florida Everglades and sophisticated waste-disposal systems in ancient Pakistan to “fatbergs” the size of a city bus in sewers today, What a Waste! delves into the fascinating, weird, and often disgusting world of garbage, and shows why it’s a growing problem. Creative solutions are showcased, like Repair Cafés to fix broken items, grocery stores that specialize in “imperfect” fruits and vegetables, and filtration systems in Kenya made from discarded water bottles. With an inviting presentation including hand-lettering and humorous illustrations, this book will both educate and entertain young readers.

About the authors


Claire Eamer was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She worked as a radio copywriter, a reporter for newspapers and radio, a trade book editor and a university instructor. Currently, she spends much of her time writing fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. After living in Whitehorse, Yukon, for many years, Claire now lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia. She is fascinated by science and natural history, and by the habitats that surround her.


Claire Eamer's profile page

BAMBI EDLUND is an illustrator, writer, and peanut butter sandwich enthusiast living on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. She spends much of her time drawing, sculpting, and chatting with the various critters that live nearby. She is determined to someday teach a raccoon to juggle ... but so far they just roll their eyes at her and steal her oranges.

Bambi Edlund's profile page


  • Joint winner, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Book Club
  • Joint winner, Science Communication Award, American Institute of Physics
  • Joint winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award
  • Short-listed, Youth Science Book Award, Science Writers and Communicators of Canada
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children’s Literature Roundtables Information Book Awards
  • Nominated, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Long-listed, American Association for the Advancement of Science SB&F Prize
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, *starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Runner-up, Green Book Festival Award
  • Nominated, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association

Editorial Reviews

Awards and reviews for Before the World Was Ready *Best Books for Kids & Teens 2014, Canadian Children’s Book Centre *Lane Anderson Award *Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award finalist *Red Cedar Book Award finalist *2015 Information Book Award finalist, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada *2015 Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination

“Aside from providing interesting biographical reading, this book is replete with life lessons for adolescents and tweens about flouting popularity in the name of what is right.”—Booklist

“This engaging book has much to offer both children and adults and would be a wonderful personal gift or addition to any science classroom or library.”—The Guardian

Awards and reviews for The World in Your Lunch Box *Eureka! Children’s Book Award, Silver *Best Books for Children List, Science Books & Films *Best Bets List, Ontario Library Association *Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre *Next Generation Indie Book Award *Red Cedar Award *Recommended Reads List, Canadian Toy Testing Council *Canadian Science Writers’ Association Book Award finalist *Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award nomination *Silver Birch Award nomination

“With a kid-friendly structure and super-goofy illustrations, this is probably the best book on the history and science of familiar food to have been published for kids in recent years.”—School Library Journal

“Elevating the mundane into the realm of fascinating science and pop history, this book also offers a successful formula for encouraging students to enjoy nonfiction texts.”—Booklist

“This empowering read will motivate kids to think about a problem very close at hand and to dream up possible solutions for the future.”

Booklist Online, 03/17/17

“This thorough overview of waste provides a great introduction to the topic and offers other resources and a great bibliography for follow up reading. Bambi Edmund’s humorous and engaging drawings will draw in the grades 4-6 readers, as will the sidebars of ‘smart ideas’, ‘cool facts’ and ‘trash talk’ and the constant flow of topics.”

Green Teacher, Summer/18

“A smart overall survey sprinkled with choice nuggets of garbage lore. Dig in.”

Kirkus Reviews, 02/01/17

“Laid out in easy-to-read sections with plenty of colorful illustrations, this slim volume is readable yet comprehensive.”

School Library Journal, 03/01/17

Other titles by Claire Eamer

Other titles by Bambi Edlund

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