What We Leave Behind: A Birdwatcher’s Dispatches from the Waste Catastrophe by Stanisław Lubieński (Translated from Polish by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones) - review by Nigel Andrew

Nigel Andrew

Plastic Purgatory

What We Leave Behind: A Birdwatcher’s Dispatches from the Waste Catastrophe

By

MacLehose 272pp £16.99
 

It started with a sock. The Polish birdwatcher and journalist Stanisław Lubieński was enjoying the first day of a holiday on an idyllic Baltic beach when he spotted a single white sock lying on the sand, untidily rolled up, with a dirty heel. This one thrown-away item set him off on an obsessive quest. It began with Lubieński collecting all the discarded rubbish he could find on this apparently pristine beach – and there was plenty, including fishing lines, balloons and a packet of wet wipes that had found its way from Florida (later, on another beach, he found a tube of Russian penis-enlargement cream). The more rubbish he collected, the more appalled he became at the sheer quantity and ubiquity of waste, and the more determined to do something about it.

Part of what he did was write this book, which was originally published in Polish in 2020 (and has been fluently translated by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones). We follow the author as he investigates the vast ‘parallel world’ of waste, beginning close to home, with the stuff he discards himself,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

Follow Literary Review on Twitter