Garbology Summary Graham & Kevin


We felt that the book was very interesting because it shows how trash affects our lives so much, and how recent generations have carelessly made a mess of our world. After reading this book, we definitely started to feel guilty about our littering habits and those of the ones around us. We both now recycle, and both of our families do too, but there were many years during our childhood where things were mindlessly thrown away.

Chapter 1: The book begins with introducing Mike Speiser or better known as Big Mike. His job is building sculptured some amazing work. His main tool of choice for his works of art is a BOMAG compactor. While his work of art is the Puente Hills Landfill which is located in Los Angeles. This is the United States largest landfill with over 130 million tons of garbage and counting. With the size of this landfill it could have its own ecosystem in it. Throughout the rest of the chapter the author discusses what our landfills are made up of and how we contribute to them by our consumption of goods. He also discusses how we have damaged our environment and that our consumption levels are so high that we have to sell our garbage to foreign countries to dispose of.

Chapter 2: This chapter really focused on New York City and the amount of trash that is disposed of every year. It jumps back a few decades to the 1960s when Colonel George E. Waring, a civil war veteran decided that something need to be done to keep New York clean so he began a cleaning team known as the “White Wings.” At first they were made fun of but then people realized the importance of what they were doing and if people continued to live in filth that disease pandemic would follow.

Chapter 3: We begin this chapter with revisiting the Puente Hills Landfill, but this time Humes focuses on the interesting things they find in the landfill and how it is treasure to some people. An interesting was made which dealt with how someone’s most valuable or precious stuff gets thrown away after one dies. Also an interesting find was a man named Robert Glen was found dead mixed in with a bunch of trash. This is just goes to show the amount of trash people dispose of daily is disgusting to the point where you can randomly find a dead body in there. Another important point in this chapter was about the amount of money we spend on local landfills and how if we need to learn to wasted less. However some people have different views such as Lippincott idea is that we can actually sell the garbage in turn boosting the economy. Finally a major topic was our plastic problem. Humes explains that we have come to the point where we are basically dependent on it and pretty much everything is made out of it. Then he also notes the harm plastic causes on the economy and how long it takes to decompose.


Chapter 4: Humes talked mostly about the history of landfills. He began discussing about Waste Management Inc, a great investment prospect in the country. In 2004, America decided to create power plants that had the ability to convert landfill gas to electricity.  It then goes on to talk about how this planned power plant has not made it off the ground because locals do not want it. Also there is a large amount of pollution caused by the production of this energy.

Chapter 5: This chapter sparked our interest because it talked about two important topics. The first is waste washing up on shore from off shore garbage dumps. We heared from Mary Crowley and her experiences while working on Project Kaisei. This project was designed to study and clean up the Pacific Garbage Patch. She then goes on to discuss the second big topic which is the amount plastic in the ocean and then how a scientist designed a machine to clean up this plastic chips also known as Chowder Chips.

Chapter 6- This chapter focuses on the history of plastic and the unintentional impact it has had on the world. When we look as see garbage 80 percent is made up of plastic. Nurdles are then introduced which are sand looking pieces of plastic that washes up on sea. Next we learn how these Nurdles actually harm and kill plankton. So what many people ask? Plankton creates nearly half the oxygen consumed on the earth. Finally the chapter reinforces the idea that plastic is literally everywhere.


Chapter 7: This chapter talks about the distance our trash travels and how nearly no one actually thinks about where there trash is going once they place it by the curb. In many cases people are naïve to the fact that they think the garbage man is going to just pick the trash up and take it to a garbage dump that’s not overwhelming and that’s it. However we are informed that in some cases “Trash Truckers” trash has traveled over 200 miles to a dump.

Chapter 8: This chapter talks about the founder of the first garbage project who was Bill Rathje. It gives the background of how it all started. It all began with studying neighborhood trash and then it escalated to incredible findings such as the US Army was throwing away 2.5 million pounds of food waste. It then goes on to state that after these findings they knew that something had to be done. Finally the end of the chapter Rathje wrote an article “Decadence Ways” that was referenced in which he states that if we do not change our ways we will slip into a declining economy.

Chapter 9: This chapter focused on the art in the garbage and how many people have become famous for garbage art. It was interesting to see in this chapter how there are actual art programs based strictly around modeling of garbage. Also how you must pay you access these classes. Humes also made a point in this chapter to point out that it is not just reducing the amount of trash being disposed or to waste less but that it is a mentality that people must begin to adapt to that we do not need the newest version of the Iphone or the newest TV.

Chapter 10-12: The last few chapters I thought tied in very well with one another. They talked about Andy Keller and how  a local dump changed his life completely. It then goes to discuss how Portland Oregon is one of the greenest cities and how basically everyone needs to learn to live like they do. Then in the final chapter it discusses how Bea who realized their bad habits and was able to change and make great improvements for herself and also for the environment.

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