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Journalist as Author: Katie Treggiden – Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure

Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure

Design and craft writer Katie Treggiden has written for publications including The Observer Magazine, Guardian Weekend and ELLE Decoration. Today, her new book Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure launches, examining how waste could become the primary resource of the future and highlighting designers pioneering the concept.

Can you introduce your book in a couple of sentences? 

Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure celebrates 30 optimistic and enterprising designers, makers and manufacturers who are turning our increasingly plentiful waste streams into raw materials for meaningful, long-lasting products, offering a glimpse into the ways in which we might be able to turn the legacy of 200 years of ‘take-make-waste’ into a more circular, sustainable and fair economy. 

Could you tell us about how you came to write the book? 

I have been writing about purpose-driven craft and design for almost a decade and in 2017 embarked on a two-year Masters at the University of Oxford to refine my niche within that space. I have always been motivated by the fact that design solves problems and that hand knowledge is often as valuable as head knowledge, and yet all too often underestimated. During my studies, I realised that climate change was the biggest and most urgent problem we are facing right now, and decided to try to answer the question, ‘Can Craft Save The World?’ On graduating, the publisher of my previous two books, Ludion, approached me about this book. It was the perfect fit, so I jumped at the chance to write it. 

Are you working on another book, or do you have other projects underway? 

Always! I have actually mapped out the next five books that go some way towards answering the question ‘Can Craft Save The World?’ as well as two that are tangentially related to that question. I also work as a freelance journalist for titles such as The Observer Magazine, Design Milk, Crafts Magazine and ELLE Decoration. I have also recently launched a podcast called Circular with Katie Treggiden – series one is all about waste, to align with the book. 

Can you offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book? 

Choose a subject you are really passionate about. While most of us can turn around an article within a week if needs be, you will be immersed in this subject for months, if not years, of your life, so it’s important that it’s something that really matters to you. And put together an informal panel of ‘critical friends’ – there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to help clarify your thinking. I’m endlessly grateful to the clever and talented people who give up their time to review early drafts of my books. 

What books are you reading right now, or about to pick up? 

I have recently read both The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac and Rutger Gregman’s Humankind and I actually think they make a really interesting pair. The Future We Choosestarts with two versions of a day in the life of 2050 – one in which we have done everything we can to halt climate change and one in which we have done nothing. It then lays out the three mindsets and ten actions we will need to adopt to bring about the preferable choice. One of the three mindsets is what Figueres and Rivett-Carnac call ‘stubborn optimism’ – the belief that humans can work together to effect change. Humankind challenges the assumption that humans are by nature selfish and driven by self-interest, and instead proposes that people are inherently good, collaborative and altruistic – a really helpful perspective in adopting a mindset of ‘stubborn optimism’.

Are there any other examples of your everyday journalism that you’re especially proud of or would just like to share? 

I write a column for American design blog Design Milk called Circular by Design, which champions designers and makers working within the circular economy and, at the moment, I am specifically highlighting those working with waste as a raw material, but will go on to explore other topics such as repair, bio-facture and regeneration. Recently, the Observer Magazine published a feature I had written entitled The Age of Waste, which explores some of the same themes as the book. Rory Mulvey took some great photographs and the whole piece came together really beautifully. And I’ve got stories for Hole & Corner and Crafts Magazine coming out soon – watch this space! 

Are you available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other roles? 

I am indeed. I recently spoke about waste at Atlanta Design Festival and will be delivering the closing keynote at the 10th annual Vancouver Zero Waste Conference in November – speaking opportunities like these are such a good way to share the message of the book, so I am very keen to find more. The next ten years are absolutely crucial in reversing climate change, so there’s a sense of urgency in what I’m trying to communicate. 

If I’m a PR professional with a story or another opportunity for you, how should I get in touch? 

Firstly, please make sure the story or opportunity is a really good fit and you can see how it would fit within one of my regular columns or something you know I’m working on, and then drop me an email.

Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (08.10.2020, Ludion) is available here. Follow Katie Treggiden on Twitter @katietreggiden and find out more about her work at

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