Garbology Review


Garbology, by Edward Humes, discussed one of the main problems that we have our society today, and that is waste. We as people are producing too much waste and we need to figure out how to get rid of or reduce our waste.  It was a great book to read and I found many interesting facts/points. The book was divided into three parts, the biggest thing we make, the trash detectives, and the way back.

The Biggest thing we make

  • One out of every big truck in the United States is a garbage truck (6).
  • U.S. has 5% of the world’s population,. but accounts for 25% of the world’s waste. America accounts for a lot of waste and it is ridiculous for how small of a population we have (10).
  • The chart of where the trash goes by country is very interesting. for the United States, 69% of our trash is in landfills, 24% goes to recycling/composting, and 7 % goes to incineration. When it is compared to Germany, 0% goes in landfills, 66% goes to recycling/composting, and 34% is incineration (27).  Comparing the Recycling, Germany is still more sufficient in recycling unlike the United States.
  • This comes to the question of why do people burn trash. Burning trash is terrible because of the chemicals that emit. Backyard trash emits dangerous levels of dioxins, soot and fine particulates, and polycyclic arromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (53). Incinerators was a problem for New York City during the 50s and 60s. New York boasted over 17,000 apartment building incinerators which casted a huge smoke  throughout the city (54).

The Trash Detectives

  • The idea of smart trash, would be in a world in which zero waste stopped being a distant dream.
  • E-waste has been a problem as well. These kind of items have to be disposed of properly. Cell phones and keyboards are the most generated items and they are also the most disposed (155).
  • It’s interesting that studying the garbage can produce some info. 2 years after the rise of AIDS, the amount of condom wrappers rose 45% (167).

The Way Back

  • The history of the plastic bag was interesting. They were introduced in 1957 to replace wax paper. In 1966, plastic bags began to replace paper bags. In 2005, San Francisco began to impose laws on implementing fees for using plastic bags.(217).
  • The plastic bag has been useful. My family has always used plastic bags, but we always save them. We reuse them for many things, and have never used paper bags.



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