Garbology- summary- Boucher

Thomas Cary Boucher

Professor Krygier


Garbology Summary

I felt that the book was very interesting and how trash affects our lives so much, and how our generation is making a mess of our world. I felt that “Garbology” was making a reference to our society as “trash”; in regards to the actions of trash removal and landfills, as well as our everyday trash builds up. After reading this chapter, I definitely started to feel guilty in the way I littered when I was younger and throwing trash away everyday. I now recycle as a 23 year old, but in remembering how much food and clothes I have thrown out in past I feel bad.

Hume’s talks about the contrast between how trash was dealt with in Puente Hills and in New York in the 1890s. As someone who is from New York and moving to California after college, I relate to his discussion on the trash in these places. I would never thought of utilizing animals, especially pigs as mentioned, as a solution to getting rid of trash. I found it to be interesting how Colonel George E. Waring, a Civil War veteran, would be thought of as the solution to our trash problem during that time. Waring and his “White Wings” were applauded by many in which they pursued to clean New York. At first, I thought of Waring’s plan of the three waste bins would work, but just when you think we have a solution, it completely fails. I think if Waring’s plan were to be utilized as of today, most likely more people will choose not to follow. When you think about it, there really is no difference the way we get rid of trash than in the 1890s. I believe that some people still recycle, but I don’t think people would actually follow Waring’s three bins.


When Hume’s started to get deeper into the discussion on Puente Hills, right when you start to believe Puente Hills was crazy enough because of how much trash it has, more insane stories developed. It is crazy enough to visualize how much trash is placed there, but the most disguising part of it is how body parts were hidden with the trash. Humes continues to mention as well how pigs were still used to eat our trash, which again I find disguising because to think when we eat pork, we are also eating the trash they used to eat.

Hume’s continues to talk about the landfills, but this time the history of it.  He goes on talking about David Steiner, who is the CEO of Materials Management Inc., in how he portrays a lot of confidence when it comes to the discussion of trash. He believes that trash will continue to fill up the landfills, but then he believes that there’s a possibility that his company will buy people’s trash.

Hume’s explains to the reader that the ocean has become a form of trash, it made me think of several trash islands, and in particular the plastic island of plastic bottles. After looking into this I felt that I want to recycle more to prevent our world from being continuously harmed from our trash disposal tactics.

Hume’s talks about a man named Bill Rathje an archeologist who was specialized in the study of ancient Mayas ruins. He created the Garbage Project a study that analyzes trash garbage. He is the first garbologist that with his archeological tools and techniques helps to understand the civilization of Americans from its garbage(163). Through his methods he developed a new language to identify pieces of trash from the landfills to discover what was it before.

Humes gives a summary on Portland, Oregon and how Portland has been known as one of the greenest cities in America, in which the city came up with ideas in order to remain environmental friendly. For instance, transportation consisted more of bikes, which led to more bike parking, and an aerial tramway. Also, fitness clubs would utilize exercise bicycles and their members to generate green power. Portland’s trash is more than the average American’s 7 pounds a day and is half more than an average Oregonian. In Metro Portland, about 59% of trash was recycled, composted, or burned for energy in 2010.

Our country needs to try to emulate the Green tactics that Portland has been doing, and in my opinion we need to get on it quickly or we are all in a heap of trouble.

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