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A documented cry against waste and litter; The Waste Watchers, by Arthur H. Purcell. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday. $4. 50.

Arthur H. Purcell's "citizen's handbook for conserving energy and resources" is a powerful polemic against the evils of waste. It is filled with starting statistics.

Did you know that about 9 percent of your grocery bill pays just for the packing? Or that nonreturnable beverage cans cost an extra $3.2 billion per year?

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In addition, as many as 1 out of 10 fires start in litter piles. And a California study of litter-related accidents identified an associated cost of $1 .5 million yearly.

The book contains plenty of ammunition for Dr. Purcell's contentions: "We make and use more than we need. We discard before we have to. And we fail to recover and reutilize our discards. The fires of inflation . . . are constantly fanned by society's waste habits."

"Waste Watchers" is more than just a broadside against profligacy. It also includes recommendations for individuals and communities to use in combatting waste.