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Recycle This Book

This book is judged by its cover

Environment: Lawrence author published book with recycled paper


By Paul Eakins
The Capital-Journal

Lawrence author Pam Grout recently completed her latest project, a book titled “Recycle This Book.” She produced 250 copies from whatever material she had on hand. The book comes out of a concern for what sort of world her 8-year-old daughter, Tasman, right, will find when she grows up.
EARL RICHARDSON/The Capital-Journal

LAWRENCE — Pam Grout’s new book is pretty trashy.

It isn’t a cheesy romance novel. Instead, it is a book literally made from trash. The pages are made from recycled brown paper bags or white paper that was waiting to be recycled in Grout’s house. The cover itself is made of the thick, stiff brown paper from grocery store bags, and each cover of the 250 books Grout has self-published came straight out of the recycling bin.

Once you are finished reading the book, Grout asks that readers return it to the place from whence it came, as indicated by the title, “Recycle This Book and 72 1/2 even better ways to save ‘Yo Momma’ Earth.”

Grout, a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence with her daughter Tasman, 8, decided in February to write the book after a meal with Tasman.

“We had gone to McDonald’s with one of her friends, and I looked at all of the trash the three of us had created in just this one little outing, and I thought, multiply us times every person who came to McDonald’s today times the 28,000 McDonald’s that there are, and I thought, ‘This is a lot of trash,’ ” she said.

Although Grout said she has always tried to be environmentally conscious, she decided to go a step further by researching dozens of ways in which the average person can help the environment and then putting the information in a book. But she had to work fast, because she wanted the book to be ready for Earth Day, which is Monday.

Each one of Pam Grout’s books is unique, made from paper that she recycled.
EARL RICHARDSON/The Capital-Journal

“People do have a lot of power, and I just want people to know, hey, we can do something,” Grout said.

Once she started researching the book, Grout was surprised at some of her discoveries, such as the impact of washing household chemicals down a drain or that compact fluorescent lights can replace incandescent bulbs and not only last 10 times longer, but also are four times as energy efficient.

“Some of them I’d already been doing, like composting and recycling and that sort of thing, but there’s a lot of things in there that I learned,” she said. “I really truly learned things that I’m using in my own life that I didn’t know before.”

Grout, who has been a reporter for the Kansas City Star and is a correspondent for People magazine, has had seven other books published by independent companies, but this was her first attempt at self-publishing.

Normally, having a book published takes about a year, Grout said. So she knew she had to publish “Recycle This Book” herself if she were to make the Earth Day deadline. She may yet submit the book to a publisher to target Earth Day 2003, she said.

“This has been very labor intensive. Usually when you write it, you’re done,” she said.

Pam Grout, of Lawrence
Trash from McDonald’s outing
Something one person can do
Making your voice heard
A market for the book

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But publishing made the job much more difficult, she said. After starting the project, Grout said she has been “really working on very little else since then.”

The book also was much different from most of the writing she had done before, she said, except perhaps one book in which the style was different but the subject matter was similar. That book, published in November and called “Living Big,” was about regular Americans who have made a real difference in the world.

“In a sense, I guess I’m taking what I wrote about to heart,” Grout said.

“Recycle This Book” is available at Raven Bookstore, located at 8 E. 7th in Lawrence, and soon will be available at the Lawrence Borders Books, Music & Cafe, 700 New Hampshire, as well as other area locations.

Environmental tips

“Recycle This Book and 72 1/2 even better ways to save ‘Yo Momma’ Earth,” by Pam Grout, of Lawrence, offers ideas for helping the environment from the simple to the funny to the drastic. Here are samples:

• Tell automakers what you think of their 19th-century technology. Most automobile manufacturers don’t use available technology to build more efficient, cleaner vehicles. Write to them and tell them what you think.

• Replace pesticides with herbs. Certain herbs can deter such pests as ants, flies and mosquitoes.

• Avoid plastics, which are major sources of indoor and outdoor pollution.

• Stop junk mail. Write to remove yourself from large mailing list companies.

• Take your own doggie bag. Carry Tupperware in your car and use it to take home leftovers, instead of using restaurants’ Styrofoam containers.

• Use some hot air. Underinflated tires, which comprise 50 percent to 80 percent of all tires in the United States, result in 2 billion gallons of fuel being wasted each year.