What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay.  "impassioned guide to living a truly responsible life on earth. "

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What We Leave Behind is a piercing, impassioned guide to living a truly responsible life on earth. Human waste, once considered a gift to the soil, has become toxic material that has broken the essential cycle of decay and regeneration. Here, award-winning author Derrick Jensen and activist Aric McBay weave historical analysis and devastatingly beautiful prose to remind us that life—human and nonhuman—will not go on unless we do everything we can to facilitate the most basic process on earth, the root of sustainability: one being's waste must always become another beings food.


"Unwaveringly forthright, urgent and compelling. While there has been no shortage of recent works written about climate change, environmental degradation, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and impending catastrophe, few are as direct, pragmatic, and compassionate as this one." —Jeremy Garber, Powell's

" … An in-depth analysis of waste and wastefulness … Some may bridle at Jensen and McBay's bluntness, urgency, and bold vision, but their demand for the end of wishful thinking and beginning of environmental transformation is rooted in meticulously constructed arguments, striking psychological insights, and profound love of life." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

"What We Leave Behind is the kind of direct, unflinching, personal writing that you'd expect from a memoir about a harrowing childhood, not one about the state of the planet, or what happens to waste … The directness of the storytelling and of the horrific vision [Jensen and McBay] lay out is both depressing, and oddly, comforting."—Brita Belli, E Magazine

"What We Leave Behind is not light reading. But a reader willing to stay on this circuitous journey to the end will be rewarded." —Karl Kunkel

" … Jensen and McBay's message that we need to grow up and 'put away the childish notion that we have the right to take whatever we want from nonhumans' is eminently reasonable." —Publishers Weekly

"Part I [of What We Leave Behind ] outlines each major form of pollution, from solid waste products to toxic gases, and for the most part, it's as engrossing as it is important. The facts Jensen and McBay present should horrify you … if facts like these don't spur readers into action, then nothing will." —Feministe

About Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay

DERRICK JENSEN speaks on behalf of a younger generation whose sense of impatience and indignation stems from the fact that they, like him, will still be walking this earth fifty years from now. Jensen writes beautifully, asking fundamental questions about our civilization and our species. Activist, philosopher, small farmer, teacher, leading voice of uncompromising dissent, Derrick Jensen holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. His books include Dreams; Endgame, Volumes 1 and 2As the World Burns, with Stephanie McMillanA Language Older Than WordsThe Culture of Make BelieveWhat We Leave Behind, with Aric McBay; The Derrick Jensen Reader, with Lierre Keith; and Deep Green Resistance, with Aric McBay and Lierre Keith.

Writer, activist, and small-scale organic farmer ARIC MCBAY works to share information about community sufficiency and off-the-grid skills. He is the author of Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life after Gridcrash and creator of "In the Wake: A Collective Manual-in-progress for Outliving Civilization" (


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