I enjoyed Garbology more than most books in the course because I thought that it was well-balanced between statistics/data and stories. These types of books are usually organized in this way to persuade the reader by presenting often surprising statistics and emotional stories to connect the reader to the text and convince them of the topic at hand. This is not to say that these books are guilty of wrongly manipulating the reader into advocacy of an issue, but effective in getting a point across and raising awareness to the audience. Furthermore, I appreciate these types of book because they are intended to reach a general audience. Not only is a textbook dry and inaccessible to most, but the intended audience is likely already well-versed in the issue. We need books like Garbology to inform and inspire those outside of the sciences.
I also enjoyed this book for the raw content. I found about 50% of the text to be revalidating what I already knew about trash and waste management but it never felt redundant; Humes was able to present the material with a new perspective that created excitement and kept my attention. This book helped me reconnect to what I know about waste while inspiring me to become informed about waste issues that I had not previously been exposed to.
One thing kept coming to mind as I read this book and it was the idea of “personal ethic.” Recent Sagan speakers (Max and Josh) both eluded to the idea that what we do in our personal lives don’t really matter because almost all waste is created at the industry level. They argue that anything we do to minimize waste and recycle is all part of our “personal ethic” and while it is not inherently wrong, it is ineffective on the greater scale. My personal belief on the matter is that everyone should do what they can to play their part. Ignoring the problem because it isn’t effective on the scale that is necessary is not going to solve anything. For example, the book introduces the problem describing the mountains of discards. All of this came from people. If we didn’t try to limit ourselves or solve the problem (given, not many of us do), this situation would be much worse and continue to escalade. We cannot simply give in to waste management to make our “personal ethic” feel better – it really does matter!
(not so) CURRENT EVENT
While reading Garbology I was often reminded of a campaign from 2010-2012 called “Pick Up America.” Although this event isn’t that current, I thought it was worth discussing.
Pick Up America began with the idea that Davey Rogner and Jeff Chen (founders) would team up with 11 other “Pick-Up Artists” to travel coast to coast (Assateague Island, Maryland to San Francisco Bay) picking up litter every step of the way.
The journey took nearly three years. Volunteers picked up trash for 378 non-consecutive days during this time, walking 3,672 miles of highway and picking up 201,678 pounds of litter!
However, this trip wasn’t just about picking up litter. The founders knew that the work being done by the mission would be ineffective if nobody knew what they purpose was. The days between litter pick-up days were spent in education. The team stopped at schools and community centers to inform kids about litter and encourage them to live a waste-free lifestyle. Additionally, they would hold events for the community with music and art to encourage attendance and teach the patrons about sustainability and minimizing waste. The bus the crew was driving became an icon – at each city people would continue to paint the restored school bus that ran on waste veggie oil collected from restaurants and markets along the route.
A few years ago I was able to meet and hang out with Davey and one of the other crew members when they were just months away from reaching San Francisco. Since then, I have been inspired by this campaign and I hope that Pick Up America plans another trek someday.
Do these types of campaigns have hope? Are there others similar to it happening now?
Follow the link to find out more info and see the map that Davey and his crew followed: http://www.pickupamerica.org/
Everything is set in place for the film screening on April 19th at 6:30 in the Benes Rooms. The panel will include Dr. Amy Downing (OWU), Dr. Thomas Wolber (OWU), and Tom Hinson from the water treatment plant. Brad Stanton, the utilities director of the water treatment plant may also join and I am still waiting for confirmation from a representative of the Ohio Sierra Club.