A Response to Garbology

I attended the Waste Symposium at Merrick Hall last Friday.

For those of you who did not have the chance to attend such, this book was an adequate representation of nearly everything that went on generally speaking. I very much enjoyed the style of Humes, and the thoroughness with which he present the information. Overall, Garbology is an excellent book.

Some things to think about:


There is a strange tension between the individual and the collective present in this book. Garbage and waste are things that all of us produce individually, and yet effects us all collectively. And even though he reverts to a rather simplified cultural argument (the mass media makes us consume more), I think a lot can be said about the political and economic decisions surrounding the way we deal with trash. Indeed, waste is not an apolitical topic, rather it is a byproduct of consumption (something inherently political).


Waste, even when handled by the private sector, needs to be monitored and supervised by local, state, and federal levels of government. Yet the government cannot limit consumption…Can they? And if the government cannot limit consumption or enact policy to change our consumption habits, can we adjust our habits on our own? What sort of oversight and “punishment” can we use to enforce a change in consumption/waste habits?

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