Garbology

Garbology begins with a look in to extreme hoarding, a topic that has struck the imaginations of people across the country. While huge numbers of people watch tv shows about hoarding, fascinated and amazed by how much trash these people accumulate, it is important to remember we all generate this much trash and just hoard it in places like landfills. As the author says, “The rest of us are just better at hiding it-mostly from ourselves.” The author does a great job of inspiring reflection on ones resource use and amazement about how much we must be using collectively.

The chapter Ain’t no Mountain High Enough describes our willingness and tendency to pile trash on to land fills. The US puts about 69% of its trash in landfills. This is pretty troubling especially when you look at other developed countries like Denmark and Sweden who both put less than 5% of their trash in landfills, the rest going to recycling/composting or incineration. Each person in the US produces an average of 102 tons of trash. The calls this our 102 ton legacy, a rhetorical technique  to induce a feeling of personal responsibility in the reader.

Their are multiple cultural and economic drivers of our trash crisis. TV and mass media marketing have shifted the common conception of the american dream from the aquisition of a decent standard of living to the accumulation of material wealth.

The problem with our trash is not only the huge amount we are producing but also the way it is handled. It turns out that trash supply chains are grossly mismanaged adding another dimension to our mismanagement of trash.

Garbology was a focused and important overview of our global trash problem with a focus on the united states, exploring causes, effects and mechanisms. It is difficult to keep these issues in ones conciouness as we make our day to day choices,  but books like this can make the difference.

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