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August 8, 2018 (New York, New York) 

 NYC Zero Waste Advocate Uses the Power of Poetry to Change Perceptions of Trash

While most poets write about the things they love, Jacquie Ottman writes about what she hates: waste and wastefulness — and the 25,000 tons of trash that her NYC hometown generates every day.           

If Trash Could Talk is the world’s first collection of verse devoted exclusively to waste. It was written to amuse, empower and inspire readers to waste less by reducing and reusing more. With the recycling market in disarray, it's a book with a timely message.

Jacquelyn Ottman 
45 pages
Amazon $19.99  

If Trash Could Talk contains 60 poems, stories and musings amassed over a lifetime, starting when Ottman, a third child, wore hand-me-downs, and at age four, dragged home board games from a neighbor’s trash in Queens, New York. Ottman now revels in updating the 3 R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle — for a new generation by communicating the soulfulness of clearing out the fridge by pooling leftovers with neighbors, swapping fashions with friends, and discovering the joy of fixing things deemed beyond repair.                                                     
Readers will discover simple steps to live trash-free by using things up, keeping stuff longer, passing stuff along, or passing it up altogether. All in keeping with today's lifestyles.
Why did you write If Trash Could Talk?
I want to show the value of what that lies within our trash heaps. Who doesn’t like free stuff? By taking advantage of opportunities to share, swap, donate, thrift, mend, repair, and taking other easy steps (See below), we all can keep the things we love in use longer. This can bring a lot more joy and soulfulness than constantly buying and trashing our stuff.
Why poetry?
I was inspired by the artists who are repurposing Pepsi cans, laundry jugs and other stuff as a way to open people’s eyes to the potential that exists in trash. I’m a natural storyteller, so I decided to tell my own stories which are ‘news’ to many people.     
I also believe we cannot bore people into dealing with trash — a topic no one wants to hear about. And we can’t bury them in statistics. Or make them fearful. So I thought poetry would make the topic fun and compelling.                                                                                                                                                     
 What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Think twice before throwing things away! I’d like readers to learn about the commonsense things that I do in my daily life and wonder, “Why can't I do this too?"

Who will benefit from reading this book?
Everybody — because everyone creates trash. Everyone is curious about where it goes. And shocked when they find out!  Government officials will learn how to engage the public in recycling and reuse programs. Entrepreneurs will get insights for new products and services that will make it easier for consumers to reduce waste.                                                                            
Finally, my book will amuse and validate everyone who hates to see things go to waste. They will see their own behaviors in mine and not feel so crazy anymore! 😄
Tell us a little bit about you, Jacquie
I’m a native New Yorker, and like my Dad who stapled together little squares of paper to make notepads for himself, (there’s a poem in the book for him, see below)— I was born with the "reuse gene." My apartment is filled with all my “street trophies.” I was my NYC high school’s recycling czar in the 1970’s, and I pioneered the field of green marketing in 1989.               

In 2012, I founded as a platform for sharing stories about reducing waste. Today, I am founding chair of the Residential Recycling and Reuse 
Committee of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board. We are appointees of the Borough President who advise the City Council, the Department of Sanitation, and others on strategies for achieving New York City’s Zero Waste x 2030 goal.

“If Trash Could Talk will entertain you, educate you, and quite possibly change the way you look at trash forever!” – Stuart A. Cowan
“This is such a refreshing, humorous, wonderful little book of writings. Almost every poem touched me in some way – it inspires for a better future – together we CAN make a difference. Thoroughly recommend this on your coffee table!” – Hannah Hartley

“Do you love to save things from the trash heap? Take pride in picking up litter from your street? Love to recycle everything? This book is for you.”      – Alice Fleming

If Trash Could Talk is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle version.
For more information and a video of Jacquie reading one of the poems in If Trash Could Talk, please link HERE.

Contact: Rachel Hurst

Additional Contents: 
  • Four Selections from If Trash Could Talk by Jacquelyn Ottman
  • 9 Must-Carries to Reduce Waste on the Go
  • 21 Ways to Reduce & Reuse

What if instead of going “away,” our trash came back?
And what if it came back all at once? And, there it was, laid before you:
The Snow Cone machine and the Busy Box, the Chutes and Ladders game, and the Crazy Eights cards. And over there, the Snippy Scissors and the Dale Evans lunch box.
Dig a little deeper and find every last one of your salt and pepper notebooks, every college Blue Book and three by five card. And under it all, a grilled cheese sandwich still wrapped to go.
Do we realize when it’s happening, how much we’re throwing away? If we had to do it all again, would we make the effort to recycle a little more, pass on a board game or two, take an extra bite before tossing?

Along with the bottles and cans and banana peels and worn out shoes, there’s a lot of hope in the trash.
Hope — like when a bang of clean, neatly folded clothes is left in the recycling room.
Hope — like when a small unopened container of Yoplait is carefully balanced on the lid of a litter basket.
Hope — that someone in need will happen upon these things and put them to good use.

Left You a Note
I’ve always thought the experience of buying things in a thrift shop could be made more appealing, even fun, if the previous owner left you a note. Think of the possibilities. “I’m Jackie O and I wore this Givenchy gown when the Queen came to dinner.” “I’m Liz Taylor and I wore this to my third wedding. Michael Todd just loved it!”
Now, many notes wouldn’t be that exciting. But let’s not underestimate the power of the familiar to amaze and delight. For example, what if a sofa came with a note from a previous owner saying, “This was my only piece of furniture during four years of medical school. Please take care of it.”                                                                                        
Stories are cheap. It doesn’t cost a thing to attach one to a sweater, a sofa, or a pair of shoes. Stories add value. Enhancing the value of something that might otherwise go to waste. 

Born to Reuse
He doesn't have to, but he does. My father chops up scraps of paper into four by four inch squares and then staples them together to make little pads for himself. He sharpens pencils down to their nubs and bundles them together in a doubled over rubber band.

He isn't one for fancy clothes, either. If it weren't for my fashion-conscious mother, he'd still be wearing the woolen sweater vests and fluffy corduroy pants he wore during my childhood. And what about that handkerchief he'd produce from his back right pocket for every scraped knee and sniffle we kids had growing up!

Dad was born in 1926. I hear about how the Great Depression made a bunch of recyclers out of that generation. Do you think my Dad is one of those? Or do you think he was just born that way?

  1. Uni-tensil collapsible fork, knife and spoon  (Pictured below)
  2. Collapsible reusable straw
  3. Chico bag/ reusable shopping bags
  4. Reusable produce bags
  5. S’well refillable water bottle
  6. Reusable coffee cup
  7. People towel reusable alternative to paper towels
  8. Collapsible food storage containers
  9. Recycled, refillable plastic ballpoint pen


  1. Sew, mend, and “visibly mend” clothes 
  2. Fix, repair; watch videos on iFixit
  3. Repurpose, upcycle items into art
  4. Donate, thrift; wear hand-me-downs, buy vintage. Donate office and other supplies that can be upcycled into art by school kids. New Yorkers: Donate to:  Materials for the Arts.  Locate a local thrift shop at DonateNYC. Enroll your building in RefashionNYC,
  5. Swap: Host a swap event in your neighborhood. New Yorkers: Check out Grow NYC’s free Stop ‘n’ Swap community events
  6. Throw a regift party after the holidays
  7. Hold a yard, rummage, stoop, white elephant, or granny sale
  8. Borrow/Lend: Use to borrow and lend with others in your neighborhood; Set up a power tool lending library in your community.
  9. Reuse: Bring a reusable shopping bag. Carry a refillable water bottle, fork/ spork, straw, and coffee mug. Order coffee to stay.
  10. Borrow, lend stuff to neighbors using
  11. Buy/Sell Used: Use websites like Craigslist, eBay, LetGo, Furnishare, and OfferUp to buy, sell, or exchange with others. Buy and sell clothing with Refashioner
  12. Put a “Free Stuff” box in your building
  13. Repurpose day old bread;  Makeover the leftovers. Make stock and soup from scraps   
  14. Pool the leftovers with neighbors  
  15. Start a Community fridge or dry goods pantry on your block; designate a sharing shelf in the office breakroom
  16. Give away surplus food with the Olio app. Donate the contents of your pantry to Move for Hunger on moving day
  17. Dumpster Dive on trash night
  18. Give away or sell things on Craigslist, eBay, FreeCycle
  19. Share: Create a “Little Free Library” in your apartment building, office breakroom and senior center
  20. Flag still usable items placed on the curb with a “Take me, I still work” sign
  21. Rent a formal dress on


For more information, LINK HERE:
Copyright © 2018 Jacquelyn Ottman, All rights reserved.

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