Finding Sustainability comes out on June 1st. It’s a non-fiction book, focusing on how one person reconciled his concerns for the state of the planet with his role as a small business owner, manufacturing plastic packaging. As a former environmental manager I was very interested. I received an advance review ebook copy from the publishers and netgalley, for which I am very grateful.

finding sustainability

Finding Sustainability: The Personal and Professional Journey of a Plastic Bag Manufacturer

by Trent A Romer

What if the foundation of your family business were threatened by something out of your control?

What if the livelihood of 70 employees and their families were at stake, as the license to operate your business became called into question?

What if 57 years of family history, grown through generations of hard work and sacrifice, were at risk of being lost?

What if the reasons were actually one with which you fundamentally agreed?

Journey to 8 states, 3 national parks and 3 countries to experience the life-changing education and adventures that led Trent A. Romer to finding sustainability for his plastic bag manufacturing business and himself. The book has won a Gold Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. [goodreads]

My Review

The blurb for Finding Sustainability is exceptionally good. It starts with three questions that are of interest to many business owners. Then it adds a kicker which is about who you are and what you personally believe in.

Most people don’t get a chance to work for an ethical company, and it makes work just that: work. I’ve been lucky to work with several whose ethics I either agreed with, or could work to improve. This book will be an inspiration to others as it has been to me.

‘how to’ plus great narrative

The great thing about it is that it wraps a ‘how to’ book in a great narrative. Mr Romer took a step by step approach to researching the problems and solutions. Then he educated himself to do something about it. Then he describes the process in making changes in his organisation–these are all patterns for use by others.

At first I found his anecdotes (which start each chapter) a little homespun. He describes holidays in the wilderness, travels with his wife and family, the beauty of the world. As the book developed I realised they were illustrations of what Mr Romer wants to keep for future generations. Connecting his own experiences to the evidence of what we are doing to the planet makes a personal document. It becomes something most of us will relate to, even if we don’t run a business.

Mr Romer is not a professional writer, sometimes the phrasing or arrangement might be a little unusual. But it’s a very readable book. And it has led me to a question:

If people like Mr Romer want to sell more sustainable products (not damaging ones), he needs consumers to demand them. How can I do that?

Action Plan

Like Mr Romer, I want future generations to enjoy the planet. As a result of this book, I have an action plan. I will work out what plastic I am using, and how it fits within the categories Mr Romer describes. Then: how am I going to change from non-recyclable to something better?

Since 1st June starts the WildlifeTrusts’ #30DaysWild again, I’m going to do just that throughout June. I’ll blog about what I find.

Buy this book: act on it: save the planet.

Book Review | Finding Sustainability

7 thoughts on “Book Review | Finding Sustainability

  • 29 May, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Great review, Jemima! Any idea when the book is scheduled to be published in the US?

    • 29 May, 2021 at 8:09 pm

      It’s saying June 1st on netgalley’s US site as well as the UK one. Haven’t checked the publishers site, though.

  • 29 May, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    Great review! I have been working on reducing plastic in my life for the past year, and am making some progress. It all goes to pieces, though, when I want ease and convenience, so instead of buying veggies at the farmers market, for example, I grab a bag of pre-prepped salad.

    I have the reuse and recycle bits down pretty well. Now for the serious work on “reduce.”

  • 31 May, 2021 at 1:03 am

    Very interesting. A year ago I was asked not to use my resusable bags at the grocery store and I am sad to say I am still struggling to get my bag habits back! I really wish we had more food packaging options for sure. I miss living near a Whole Foods that had less plastic. Now I can’t even buy a bell pepper without it being wrapped in plastic. So sad. I am interested to see what you have coming up on your blog!

    • 3 June, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      I assume your grocery store is in the US? That would be unthinkable in Europe. Reusable and non-plastic bags have been a big issue for the past ten years at least, with single use plastic bags only available at a cost (pushed for by environmental legislation).
      There’s now a push for returnable drinks bottles like we had in the 60s for glass ones. Lots of us made up our pocket money by collecting empties from the neighbours and returning them to the store for reuse by the drinks companies. That’s the point where the plastic chain fails at present, for bottles.

      • 3 June, 2021 at 7:36 pm

        Stores here, at least on the coasts, have gotten pretty good about the bring-you-own for hauling your groceries home. It’s the law in quite a few places, including CA (that is, you have to pay for a bag). But the veggies and things—either they are already packaged, or they provide plastic baggies to put them in. So far there’s no push to eliminate those bags.

  • Pingback:30DaysWild is over for another year - #staywild ~ Jemima Pett

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