‘Better Than New: A Recycle Tale’

By Annie Tobey | May 18th, 2022

Patagonia’s first children’s book encourages hope for improving our world

Better than New book cover from Patagonia Books

A company that is legendary for quality products and for its commitment to environmental sustainability has published its first children’s book. Patagonia presents Better than New: A Recycle Tale, a fun, inspiring, and soothing romp with two Chilean children who discover the wonders of recycling and reusing. Better than New makes for comfortable lap reading or for children thumbing through on their own. The book is targeted to children 4 to 8 years old, or 1st and 2nd grades.

The beautifully illustrated book is in Spanish as well as English – after all, the two young characters are from Chile. The use of the two languages, side by side, makes the book friendly for English- and Spanish-speaking families and opens children’s hearts to the beauty of differences.

The publishing company

Few companies can claim the “legendary” label like Patagonia. Plenty of companies have achieved success, from Ford Motor Company to IBM to Apple and Microsoft. But few put their money where their mouth is – where their heart is – like Patagonia. Founder Yvon Chouinard became enamored of outdoor adventure and began creating adventure gear and clothing. Simultaneously, he became passionate about the outdoors, about sustainability and environmental protection.

When the company was still small, it began to devote time and money to combat global warming, the destruction of tropical forests, the loss of groundwater and topsoil, and other environmental harm. In 1986, the company began donating 10% of profits to groups working to save or restore habitat, then increased that to one percent of sales, a continuing commitment. The company has done more throughout the years, through education, activism, sustainable company policies – including recycled and organic materials for catalogs, products, building materials – maintaining a program to buy, repair, and sell used gear, and much more.

In 2007, Patagonia Books was formed. The books reflect the company values such as outdoor pursuits and environmental stewardship. In 2022, Patagonia releases its very first children’s book, this bilingual story about ocean plastic and recycling.

More about ‘Better than New’

Better than New: A Recycle Tale / Mejor que Nuevo: Un Cuenta de Reciclaje, follows a Chilean brother and sister who live in a picturesque beach village. As they play in the surf, they encounter a sea lion tangled in an abandoned fishing net. They free the sea lion and become aware of other abandoned nets and harmful debris in the sea, and they wonder what they can do.

A little bird tells the siblings about a recycling center, where discarded nets can be made into new useful items – better than new. The children learn, and they feel empowered.

While presenting a comfortable familiarity of two languages, the book also opens young readers’ eyes to the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. It challenges them to help the planet by making good choices and taking action.

Abandoned fishing nets (aka “ghost nets’’) are considered one the world’s most harmful forms of ocean pollution. The story in Better Than New was inspired by a real-life solution created by California-based company Bureo, which has established infrastructure for collecting and recycling discarded nets and provides Patagonia with recycled NetPlus material.

The book does serve to inform readers that some Patagonia products use this NetPlus material. However, the marketing message isn’t blatantly attempting to persuade children, unless the adults choose to share it – which could be a valuable and worthwhile takeaway.

Better than New was written by Vermont-based children’s author Robert Broder and illustrated by Lake Buckley. The color palette of rich, muted blues and greens and other earthy tones syncs well with the story. The colors are peaceful and soothing – for a relaxing bedtime or naptime read.

Better than New: A Recycle Tale / Mejor que Nuevo: Un Cuenta de Reciclaje
Patagonia Books
Reading level: 4-8 years, 1st and 2nd grades
Released May 24, 2022

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