Zero Waste Home

An Interview with writer, speaker Bea Johnson and Lauren Read, Librarian, Business, Science, & Technology Department

Lifestyle changes are often made in incremental steps.  For this approach, is there a big-impact swap that you suggest as a first step?

Learn to say no is my first rule.  Refuse what you do not need. In such a consumer society, accepting is condoning.  Every time we accept a toothbrush at the dentist, a plastic bag at the store, a straw at the café, we create the demand to make more of something that quickly becomes trash.  Learn to say no on the spot; find a sentence for you to make it easy to politely decline, and people will accept and respect it. It takes three weeks for habits to form, this included, so take a second to ask do you need it first.

Many people may look at the zero-waste lifestyle as intimidating, and we know that your talk – and your book – address those things that might hold people back or that people think are too difficult.  What’s one misconception you’d like to point out to Baltimoreans in advance of your talk?

The zero waste lifestyle is the complete opposite of the mainstream understanding.  It does not take more time; it saves time. It does not cost more; it saves money. It helps the environment, yes, but also improves our standard of living.

Zero Waste Home is available as an e-audio through RB Digital.

Although thinking and living in terms of zero waste isn’t entirely focused on products, and overall, secondhand and built-to-last items rank highest, there is a lot of overwhelm to make the perfect choice among countless ones.  How do we balance making ethical product choices and not going crazy with options? Something to do with simplicity, perhaps…?

The best product is the one that you don’t buy.  Before you buy, ask do you even need this. We live in a consumerist society, created by manufacturers and marketers, creating fictitious need, promising time and money saving.  In the end we find that it’s the opposite: we must go to the store, buy, transport, stow, use, separate to dispose of “properly,” go back and buy more. There are simple questions to ask yourself.  Is this a quality, reusable item? Can you buy it secondhand [non-food] or in bulk [food]? Boost the secondhand market rather than the new manufacturing one.

A related area of overwhelm is caring for what we have.  I know to enjoy my strengths, such as cooking, and outsource my weak areas, like tailoring.  What’s your best advice to encourage people to fix rather than replace items?

When you adopt zero waste practices, you consider the whole life-cycle of things, and that includes repair.  Libraries can offer workshops to teach such skills. I wish it was more common in the U.S.

I know Baltimore has plenty of community gardens to get involved with.  What are some of your favorite ideas for connecting with community whilst keeping these practices?  

Whether you shop at the grocery store or the farmers’ market, bringing your reusables, it forces communication and creates interaction with staff and others.  It fosters communication, which over time can create great relationships. Shopping secondhand tends to be local, so it’s an added way to get to know your community members.  Renting items, also, creates bonds. In apartments, too. Even composting. There are social aspects to sharing.

Finally, libraries play a fine role in facilitating a sharing economy, especially when it comes to books, music, and movies, and in some places games, art, tools, instruments, bikes….  We’re also a third place for people to gather and collaborate in a noncommercial way. In your travels, have you noted a spectacular way that a library is promoting sustainability?

Overall, people can start looking at libraries as a space that goes beyond books, hosting workshops making useful things, having me talk, for instance.  Tool libraries are fantastic; my library has a seed library, and I wish they had created a tool library first, but people use our library like crazy. I think a lot of people go straight to the bookstore because they don’t realize how updated libraries are.  In France, they have toy libraries: I really like that.

Music Hath Charms. So Does Hoopla!

By Tom Warner, Librarian, Best & Next Department

In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, many of us are turning to music as an escape from the stress and anxiety this unprecedented pandemic has caused. Maybe that’s because, as William Congreave famously observed, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

Let’s hope music does have a curative effect on our savaged breasts, because many of the troubadours we turn to in our hour of need have themselves contracted the deadly coronavirus; according to Billboard, over 30 musicians have reported having the disease, with five – John Prine (April 7, age 73), Oscar-nominated songwriter and Fountains of Wayne co – founder Adam Schlesinger (April 1, age 52), jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (also April 1, 85), jazz trumpeter – composer Wallace Roney (March 31, age 59), and Arrows singer Alan Merill (March 29, age 69), who co – wrote “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, ” a later breakout hit for Joan Jett – recently passing away from complications related to the virus.

That unfortunate list includes popular artists Christopher Cross, Sara Bareilles, Jackson Browne, John Prine, Larry Campbell, Placido Domingo, Scarface, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’ Brein, Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryon, Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks), and even Idris Elba (yes, the actor – he opened for Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour in Berlin).

If there’s any consolation, it’s that the music these artists and others create lives on forever. And music of it lives on Hoopla, the digital media service that enables you to borrow music (as well as audiobooks, ebooks, comics, movies, and TV shows) for free using your Pratt Library card. Once you use your card to set up an account, you can download or stream up to 15 titles a month to enjoy on your computer, tablet, television, or mobile device. So grab your library card and earbuds and start listening today!

Following is a Hoopla playlist highlighting the music of several of these afflicted artists. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers and ears!

Adam Schlesinger

The late – great Adam Schlesinger was the co-founder of pop band Fountains of Wayne (as well as Ivy and Tinted Windows), before branching out to write award-winning tunes for stage (Broadway’s “Cry – Baby”) and screen (That Thing You Do, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Sesame Street, Stephen Colbert).

Hoopla offers all five Fountains of Wayne albums for downloading or streaming to mobile devices, including their critically acclaimed third album with the hit single “Stacy’s Mom”, Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

  • Hoopla offers all five Fountains of Wayne albums for downloading or streaming to mobile devices, including their critically acclaimed third album with the hit single “Stacy’s Mom,” Welcome Interstate Managers (2003).
  • You can also listen to Tinted Windows, the supergroup Schlesinger formed with former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Hanson singer Taylor Hanson.
  • Hoopla also features selections of songs Schlesinger wrote for the popular television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
John Prine

Country folk singer-songwriter Prine, a two-time Grammy winner, was known for his humorous songs of protest and social commentary. Before succumbing to complications resulting from the coronavirus, Prine had survived cancer and the loss of a lung.

His legacy was best summed up by his peer Bonnie Raitt, who in a 1992 Rolling Stone interview commented: “He’s a true folk singer in the best folk tradition, cutting right to the heart of things, as pure and simple as rain.”

Wallace Roney

Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney grew up in Philadelphia and learned his craft studying with the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble and later with Langston Fitzgerald of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He came to national attention performing in the Washington, D.C. area, winning Downbeat’s Best Young Jazz Trumpeter award in 1979 and 1980.

Hoopla boasts 30 selections featuring Wallace Roney and five full-length studio albums, including his acclaimed Misterios (1994), Village (1997), No Room For Argument (2000), No Job Too Big Or Too Small (2018) and his final recording According To Mr. Roney (2019).

Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Patriarch of the legendary musical family whose ranks include sons Branford and Wynton, Ellis wasn’t just a talented pianist but a respected educator, as well, teaching at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana, and receiving an honorary doctorate from Tulane University for his contributions to jazz and musical education in 2207.

Elliss Marsalis III, the rare Marsalis son who didn’t pursue a music career, is a photographer and poet who has lived in Baltimore for more than 25 years. Ellis Marsalis is represented by seven titles in the Hoopla library, including his albums Pure Pleasure for the Piano (2012), An Open Letter To Thelonius and New Orleans Christmas Carol

Christopher Cross

Five-Time Grammy winner Cross is best known for his #1 hits “Sailing” (1980) and “Arthur’s Theme” (1981).

Hoopla has 14 Christopher Cross selections, including the albums Christopher Cross (1979), Arthur: The Soundtrack (1981), Every Turn of the World (1985), and Back of My Mind (1988).

Jackson Browne

Rolling Stone magazine listed Browne in its list of “The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All-Time,” and no wonder: songs like “These Days,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “Lawyers in Love,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “Take It Easy,” and “Somebody’s Baby” helped propel him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo has recorded over 100 operas in his long-running career, and has crossed over into Latin and popular singing success, as well.

Hoopla offers listeners over 190 selections from the legendary singer!


Houston-based rapper and politician Scarface (Brad Terrence Jordan) started out in the Geto Boys before launching a successful solo career in 1991.

Hoopla has 14 full albums by Scarface, from his first Mr. Scarface Is Back to his last Deeply Rooted, as well as selected tracks by the Geto Boys.

Sara Bareilles

Singer-songwriter-actress has been nominated for eight Grammy awards and composed and wrote lyrics for the Broadway musical Waitress, for which she earned Tony and Grammy nominations for Best Score and Best Album, respectively. 

Hoopla offers 13 selections featuring Bareilles, including What’s Not Inside: The Lost Songs from Waitress.

These are just a sampling of the many artists whose songs can be heard on Hoopla; there are thousands more, in every conceivable genre! For a list of the most borrowed titles of 2019, click here.

Hooray for Harry

There’s no better time to relive your favorite moments from one of the most popular book series of all time! With Overdrive you can escape to the magical world of Hogwarts with just a click of a button. Right now the first book in J.K. Rowling’s series is available with no wait. Go ahead and check it out and enjoy Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s adventures!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
By J.K. Rowling

On Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

Read the eBook | Listen to eAudio

Also in the Harry Potter Series:

4 Free Educational Things for Teens (and Parents) To Do Online While Stuck Inside

Suzanne “Zanne” Phillips, Teen Library Associate

With much of the country in self-isolation or full lockdown mode due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to just let your brain turn to mush. Boredom sets in quick – so much so that you might even miss going to school. Well, maybe not all of it, but at least the part where you learned new things every day.

If you want to keep your mind stimulated – or just stay up-to-date on what’s happening with this whole virus situation – we’ve rounded up links for a few fun and free things to keep you occupied until you can leave the house again.

Get Coronavirus Info You Can Trust
It’s understandable to be anxious and even scared about the coronavirus (COVID-19), because it’s spreading so far and fast and affecting everyone’s lives whether they have it or not. We’re all trying to adapt to new ways of doing things without knowing how this will end. It’s okay to be scared, but we need to be careful not to panic and spread misinformation that will make things worse.

Because there’s so much happening with this virus all at once, everyone’s looking for information about COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all the fast and easy “facts” you can find are really true. Wrong and even dangerous info about the virus is all over the place, and it can be hard to sort out the truth by yourself.

Luckily, we have a couple of reliable sources for COVID-19 info you can actually trust. First is the official COVID-19 information page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is a great source of accurate, easy-to-find info about the virus. It’s broken down into easy sections to answer your questions about the disease, including:

  • How can I protect myself?
  • What should I do if I think I’m sick?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How many people have definitely gotten the virus in my state?

There’s lots of other helpful info on the CDC’s COVID-19 page too, including the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations posted under “Latest Updates.”

The Enoch Pratt Free Library website has its own page listing a lot of other helpful places to go for accurate, up-to-date information about the virus and how it’s affecting life here in Maryland. It’s a good idea to check these out before you share the social media post with a bunch of coronavirus “facts.”

Learn About Coding and Technology
If you want to learn to code, now’s the perfect time! There are a lot of sites that offer free coding lessons, including:

Take Art Courses and Tour Art Museums
Visit Artsy’s 10 University Art Classes You Can Take for Free Online. These courses are all offered by respected colleges and universities over the internet, and they’re all free.

If formal classes aren’t your style, why not take in some of the great art museums’ collections from your couch? You can check out online collections of art from the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of Art. Take a virtual tour of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. Even if you’re not a big art fan, it’ll give a break from all the reality show returns.

Keep Your Mind Fit While School is Closed
With school systems closing all around the country, many students (well, at least their parents) are looking for ways to keep their minds in shape for when schools finally reopen. Luckily, there are a few places offering online educational resources, such as:

For even more free online educational resources, check out this list.

Bonus: Use Our Digital Library!
If these aren’t enough to keep you occupied, check out our homepage. And don’t forget to sign up for Spring Reading too!

So, what are you doing to keep your brain from going all mushy? Let us know in the comments!

Christmas in April? Why not?

With so many of us at home practicing social distancing, naturally folks are enjoying binge-watching. There’s so much to choose from like thrillers, comedies and documentaries, so we were surprised to hear that many are enjoying holiday movies this time of year. It’s understandable, the uplifting films bring a smile to so many faces. 

If you are looking for some Christmas cheer (a couple months early), look no further than Hoopla. Here’s a list of some of our favorite Lifetime Holiday movies that are available to stream instantly.