Chapter 7

Trash trackers are people who tag their trash electronically to see how far it travels before reaching it’s final destination in hopes of determining the carbon footprint of their trash. Depending on the trash it can travel different distances. Regular trash travels around 10 or more miles before landing in a dump whereas electronic trash usually ends up in China.

Is there something we can do to decrease the amount of electronic trash we create so that we will also decrease the large green house gas emissions that electronic trash in particular creates?

How can we stop trash from traveling so far? Can we take advantage of different aspects of our geography to do this?


Chapter 8

When Rathje’s team pulled up guacamole from a landfill I found it a bit scary to think of how well preserved it was and wondered what else other things were preserved. Trash is supposed to be useless and degrade into something else but in this case it was not.

The bucket augur seems like a very useful tool for the Garbage Project. Misinformation about landfills were dispelled through Rathje’s team and this tool, which is why they called him the, “Indiana Jones of refuse.” He implemented the same idea and methods archeologists did when trying to discover how the ancient Egyptians lived to discover how we live now. It was interesting to me how identifiable the trash from poorer areas was based on it’s toxicity.

Things learned through the Garbage Project:

-Discarded birth control pill dispensers show a substantial minority of women were taking the pills incorrectly

-The number of condoms found rose by 45% in the first 2 years after AIDs hit the news.

-Poor families buy more meals in smaller packages than rich families which in the long run means the poorer are spending more on packaging than the rich.

-Drinking rates increase at certain times of the month (after common paydays)

-There is a lot of unopened Valentines day candy in the dump.

The First Principle of Food Waster is , “The more repetitive your diet-the more you eat the same things day after day- the less food you waste”.

Does knowing that you waste less if you eat the same thing make you want to keep the same diet?


Chapter 9

“She [Niki Ulehla] was looking for Dante’s Inferno”

How did you guys feel about creating art out of garbage?

Do you think it is practical as a way to reduce garbage in landfills? Or is it better used as a way to remind people how much waste we use and try to educate more on the effects our trash has on the earth?

Did anything surprise you about the AIR (artist in residence dumps) in San Francisco? Apparently there are hundreds of applications to be a resident but only six total per year. Do you think it would be practical to create other programs like this elsewhere for kids to visit?

I was surprised when I found that San Francisco made more waste than the national average. Is the AIR program actually making people think it’s ok to create more waste?

“If you need it, it will come” – This is the house cliche at the AIR program. It means that even though the idea of picking the right materials and making art out of garbage may seem impossible, it all works out in the end and you find what you need.


Chapter 10

Were you impressed with Andy Keller’s ingenuity and entrepreneurship in making a degradable clothe bag to replace all the plastic bags he was dropping off at the landfill and eventually creating ChicoBag’s?

The one downside that I found was that the bags have a large carbon imprint from not being manufactured in America and having to travel.

Americans consume 102 billions bags a year. Can you think of any way that we can reduce this? I loved the idea Keller had to make a Bag Monster and educate people in a new way.

By 2010 San Francisco and multiple other communities have banned or placed a fee on plastic grocery bags. Do you think this is ok for them to do? Do you think it will help?

Apparently you only need to reuse a bag 11 times for it to have a quantifiable environmental impact.


Chapter 11

Portland holds many surprises. I did not know it lead smart growth policies in the 1970’s and kept them in place throughout the years. This is probably why it is always at the top of sustainability and energy efficiency lists.

The book called this sort of city is an upstream swimming city. Do you think the motto, “Government’s the problem, not the solution,” that Portland has could help other communities with sustainability issues get over the challenges they face?

The garbage power plant built near the Eiffel tower in paris that is surrounded by shrubbery and trees but burns 1,260 tons of trash per day seems amazing. Even more amazing was finding out that in Copenhagen, the old Amagerforbraending plant will be replaced this year (2016) by a new plant that will double as a community ski park! I really want to go skiing there. There seems to be a lot more that Europe is doing in terms of energy conservation and sustainability. Do you think we need to catch up? Why do you think we are so far behind?

Chapter 12

Do you think if you did what Beu Johnson did and moved to a new place where you had to give up a lot of unnecessary dishes, furniture, clothes, etc. you would feel like you needed and missed those things or not? When you came to college did anyone experience anything like this?

Johnson ended up selling 80% of her belongings. How much do you think you could practically and emotionally sell in your life?

The way that she describes living reminds me of veganism. There is a similarity in the amount of knowledge and research that you have to be willing to do in order to accomplish these two things successfully.

Johnson describes the american dream as, “having financial freedom…being able to do what we want to do…saving instead of wasting,” do you agree?

Ways to Low Waste

-Bring glass jars, bags, other containers to the store.

-Buy in bulk.

-Microfiber clothes instead of paper towels.

-Wrap sandwiches in cloth napkins.

-Make your own multipurpose cleaners.

-Refill wine bottles at local bottling events.


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