The first thing we are hit with in the book is the sheer staggering amount of trash the United States has on its hands. Over five pounds of trash per day has to go somewhere in this country when we factor in the manufacturing and other sectors in combination with just consumers. More than just present us with large numbers to catch our attention though, Edward Humes tackles the issue through both what causes such staggering amounts of waste and something more, not only how to deal with it, but asking if we really are.
When looking at trash generation in the United States we are shown that far and away our largest problem is how our culture has changed in how we treat the things we buy in the last 60-80 years. To simply throw something away while it could easily be fixed or re-used or even scavenged for parts is something that has grown out of both our ability to make goods cheaper and the increase in the standard of living over time. We throw away because we can afford to do so, and Humes points out that by simply altering this wasteful practice we can completely change our waste landscape.
One of the most important parts of the book for me was how Humes showed that by simply treating recycling as another disposable means, in other words, we can not simply toss it in a recycle bin and think of it as “taken care of”. We must be aware of where those recyclables are going to ensure that they are indeed recycled. By changing how people are able to dispose of things we can make recycling a more viable option, such as changing the sizes of the containers available for pick up and how often they are picked up.
The treatment of our garbage is we purely ignore, we do not care where our waste goes and this is something Edward Humes believes we cannot ignore, Garbology goes a very long way in convincing the rest of us that this is something we to address now instead of later.