Garbage Matters Notes + CurrentEvent

November 16, 2016

By Amanda Apicella

I found the ways in which the author divided up the approaches/views towards waste in various works to be pretty interesting and a pretty accurate/effective way to distinguish between these schools of thought. We have talked a lot in this class about divisions and viewing things as “separate” from humanity/us and where those divisions lie or if they are not entirely founded in reality (aka are arbitrary to varying degrees) so considering how often it comes up this is a significant distinction when it comes to topics like this. This time though it is our relationship with waste and how it is treated. Although none are necessarily “wrong” as the author states, it does give insight into different ways people view waste and how it relates to us/our society as a whole. Considering that I don’t often hear of people referring to waste in a positive manner due to the word’s connotations, It is interesting to see how many different ways it is viewed/addressed that I never really considered before (most of the time I hear about waste it is in the “waste as hazard” way of addressing it). The waste as a resource section was particularly relevant to me as I have always been interested in recycling and the extent/effects of it. The idea of viewing recycling and waste as a resource in terms of being similar to other cycles/systems that we also see in nature was something I was aware of but never really fully thought about to be honest. When it comes to “nature” we tend to think of everything as a cycle when it comes to animal waste/leavings and even death but when it comes to our own waste/leavings we tend to fall into the “one way street” way of thinking, even if it isn’t intentional. The waste as a commodity section was something I didn’t even realize was a “thing” so to speak as it just never seems to be thought of that way by people not familiar with it. The trade and market regarding waste considered hazardous just never really came to mind and I honestly plan to look into it more as it seems to be a fascinating topic.


Current Event: Study finds limited sign of soil adaptation to climate warming

Soil is releasing 9x more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all human activities combined due to natural respiration of soil microbes/plant roots. Due to the increased temperatures of soil across all biomes, there is significantly increased respiration as well as releasing of stored carbon dioxide in previously frozen soil in the Arctic. Data regarding the effects on and of soil in relation to climate change is needed to be studied and gathered more extensively as they also need to obtain data from non/under-represented regions to include in the wider dataset. Considering the significance of their contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gases we already know about, this is a serious issue that we need to look more into and potentially find a way to address it (or at least mitigate the problems it will likely cause).

Garbage Matters: Carter Rae and Munir Qaddorah

November 16, 2016

Whats a billion dollar industry that most people have never even heard of? Waste trade. This is what Sarah Moore’s “Garbage Matters: Concepts in New Geographies of Waste” is all about as she explains what waste is and the different ways one can interpret it. Moore focuses on the social sciences, both political and economical, that that sandwich wrap you threw away. The commodity chain for that piece of waste can end up in a landfill but its value that it has can be spread around with positive or negative effects.

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As a Hazard

As a Resource

As a Commodity

As a Manageable Object

As Archive

This is not a book but a scientific article in Human Geography. With the intention more on presenting an insight into waste in terms of social sciences, the writing is hard to understand at times. Key words like “fetishized commodity” is something that you don’t hear often.

Can objects be defined positively or negatively?

Do certain social processes pre-exist objects and subjects together help to constitute society and space?

Notes on Garbology (Pessell)

November 16, 2016

This is yet another book that we have read this semester that made me feel ashamed in the amount of waste I generate on an annual basis. However, like many other books we’ve read, it also made me focused on improving my vigilance to issues like this and has inspired me to reduce the amount of trash that I create.

At first, when Humes mentioned the statistic of 102 tons of waste per person sounded crazy. How is there even that much stuff to create 102 tons of trash per person in America? However, I started to think of how my family throws away. We typically wait to take out the trash until it begins to overflow. Once we do, we replace the bag. I usually believe that it would take a while, at least several days, until we would need to replace it, but more times than not, the new bag is half filled by the end of the day. My family is relatively small, with my two parents, myself, and our dog. That is smaller than the average family size of two children, parents, and a pet or two. It would stand to reason that my family would produce less garbage than the average family, but I have found that we generate about the same amount as some of my peers who have larger families. Depending on who I ask, we produce a lot more. Now, that 102 tons of waste per year doesn’t sound so large.

One aspect that really interests me is the trade of garbage. This book is not the first text I have found about this aspect. In a previous class, we talked about families or entire communities that take in trash (particularly electronics) and sort through it for usable components that they then sell back to manufacturers who then recycle and reuse them. Similar to the example of the paper company that exports paper waste to China in the book, these garbage economies allow people to find livelihoods while doing things helpful for the envionment. I believe that we cannot rule out this practice as a way to reduce the amount of garbage wasting away in landfills. Now, if this were to become a more common aspect of the world economy, it would have to be highly regulated for safety. We would also have to implement stricter guidlines for seperating trash into categories. As we read in Chapter 3, this is not an easy command to have people follow. I continue to see people carelessly throw recyclable objects away in regular trash bins. Some thing should be done to mitigate those actions as well as harsher punishments to those who do not follow those rules. Finally, exporting and importing garbage for reuse cannot replace the idea of reducing the amount of trash we use. We cannot continue using materials that cannot be reused and steps should be taken on reducing overall trash production in an economically reasonable amount.

Environmental News

With the results of the American 2016 election, many envionmental agencies both in and outside of the government have concerns on how the new administration will handle progress towards lowering carbon emissions and investment in renewable energy sources. During the campaign, president-elect Donald Trump has said many times that he would defund the EPA and fight for coal and gas workers and now that he will have the power to do so, those in the scientific community and other world leaders have urged Trump to reconsider, including President Obama. This week, Obama has cautioned Trump and his supporters to move forward with the Paris Agreement, an international agreement aimed at decreasing carbon emissions. No country is required to participate, but the US has been a leader and has helped to persuade other countries to join the agreement. In the past, Trump has stated that he would not uphold the agreement. However, some politicians and scientists remain hopeful that the new President will listen to reason.


Pacia Purcell: Garbology

November 16, 2016

The book mentions a few alternatives to landfills. One such alternative is burning the trash to create energy that can be used. This is already done in some places such as Sweden and Connecticut. Not only does this practice cut back on the amount of trash that ends up in landfills, but it also provides alternatives to unsustainable practices of producing energy. At the creation of one large landfill mentioned in the book, the thought of using the trash to run a power plant was proposed, however was not put into action. Landfills are cheaper options and have a higher profit margin. People in this society are money crazy, because they have to be. Here in America and many other places around the world, you won’t go far without money, but you can go far by harming the environment. The world’s drive for money is causing an environmental crisis.

A great majority of the book dealt with the topic of plastic and mentioned how one woman researched the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and eaten by the wildlife. When plastic in the oceans is mentioned everyone thinks about those plastic rings that hold cans or bottles of pop together and how they end up wrapped around a turtle’s body or some poor penguin’s throat. However there is a lot more plastic in the water than what meets the eye. Small, unseeable particles of plastic are present throughout the water. These can come from many sources, but many are washed down the shower drain and come from your favorite hygiene products. Many soaps, shampoos, and face washes contain plastics that are unknowingly washed down the drain when you rinse off. Who knew that trying to be cleanly could be so bad for the environment? Some of these plastics are discarded into the ocean, where they are eaten unknowingly by fish, which can not only cause problems for the fish, but those who eat the fish also.

Humans rely heavily on plastic. Looking around my room I can’t help but notice all the things that are made of plastic and the things that probably contain plastic, but you just can’t be sure. Plastic is cheaper to produce than alternative materials in many situations. However, humans still overuse plastic for things that really need not exist. Many candies contain plastic parts from which you eat the candy off of. There are many little, cheap, plastic toys that are bought one day and thrown away the next. Many cheap plastic things are not made with the thought of do people need this, but rather do people want this? This makes people sound greedy and in truth they are. Why else would products that harm the environment be produced if humans did not necessarily need them? From human greed for more money and human greed for more material things. Plastic is a huge part of the composition of our landfills, and a lot of plastic that is produced could not be and humans would be just fine.

Pacia Purcell: Current Environmental Event

November 16, 2016

Nation’s First Offshore Windfarm to Debut

NBC News

On a tiny island off of Rhode Island the nation’s first offshore wind farm has been built. This wind farm is going to provide energy for all of the island and some will even be sent to the mainland. Some of the residents of the island believe that this will be a good thing. One woman who was interviewed believes that this new form of energy will help bring down the cost of her electric bill and knows that this will reduce the use of diesel fuel burning, which is what is currently used to provide energy to the island. However, others believe that the wind farm will raise the price of their electric bill because it is coming from a third party company, who can jack up the prices as much as it wants. Additionally these same people are also displeased with the disruption of their coastline view.

Environmental news: Brad Brodek 11/15

November 16, 2016

As of right now 2016 is set to become the hottest year on record. It is also set to be the hottest year by a large margin. Temperatures in morocco have been gathered and are 2.2˚F above pre industrial times. 2015 was the hottest year to date and looks like its going to be broken after just one year. Also this banner year follows what was the hottest five-year period on record, 2011-2015. When 2016 takes over the title of hottest year, it will also mean that 16 of the 17 hottest years in the books will have occurred in this century, the only exception being the intense El Niño year of 1998. All of this shows that the earth is warming and at a steady rate. Which brings up the questions of when will it stop, how hot will it reach and also will animals, vegetation and humans be able to survive in these temperatures? Reports also show that we have reached record high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and also record low Arctic sea ice levels.





Garbology: Brad Brodek 11/15

November 16, 2016

This book is very well written and has a lot of interesting information of garbage. It talks about the history and future of garbage dumps. It talks about how much garbage we make a year and where it comes from. As of now an average person will generate 102 tons of garbage over their lifetime. Another thing the talk about is the problems this trash is starting to cause and expected to cause. I chose a few interesting chapters and wrote about them below.

Chapter 1:

Chapter one is interesting because it talks about Mike who works at the Los Angeles Puente hills landfill. Here he runs a bulldozer and piles up garbage into this giant mountain. There they have built a massive mountain of garbage that has grown to 500 feet high. This hill consists of about 130 million tons of garbage. This chapter is really interesting because it brings up the questions of “Where are you going to put the trash now?” and “Why do we have so much trash, and what might we do to make less of it?”. These are questions that humans are starting to run into because of the amount of land we have used already for landfills and the amount of garbage humans make. We need to find mitigation techniques to deal with this problems because the population is only going to up resulting more garbage produced.

Chapter 8:

This chapter was also interesting because it talks about Bill Rathje who became the first garbologist and while doing that did some shocking studies. In the U.S. Army alone they threw away food that was still edible and not just a little bit of it, a lot of it. He found out that of all the garbage about 17% of it was food waste. They later began to save 2.5 million pounds of wasted foods. Also while doing this he talked to many households about garbage and many of these people believe that what they were throwing away was going to decompose and not take up land but in reality they just sat at landfills. This chapter shows the lack of knowledge some people have with dealing with their garbage they think that its out of sight and out of mind but forget it sits at these landfills.

Chapter 10:

Andy Keller went to a dump and his life forever changed. He could not believe what he saw and how horrible the stench was. He talked about how many plastic bags he saw everywhere. This led him to start a reusable bag company that has expanded to a large size because of the information he has shared about the paper bags littering the earth and never going to go away. One of the craziest stats I have ever read came from this chapter and this is if you tied together all the bags on the earth it could wrap around the earth 776 time! That is a lot of bags that will never decompose.He then tried to get people to change food containers, but that did not work as well because businesses saw that they were losing customers so they gave up on this idea.


Project update:

I have looked into the energy monitors you emailed me. I think I am going to get the “Kill A Watt Control” because of the lower cost and ability to do everything i need to get this project rolling but still not 100% sure. I also have talked to another librarian about this and they seem to have no problem with it.

Carter Rae: Placing Animals

November 9, 2016

Placing Animals is an interesting read that brings up the human-animal relationship that exists. Issues such as how different mediums influence our perception of animals and ideas like bestiality and animal driven economies.

Urbanik starts off talking about the legal aspect of animals, incorporating past movements to preserve their homes and way of life. Preservation of their natural habitat is a must, she describes, for the well being of not just the animals but people as well. Chapter 2 goes on to talk about normal animal activities like dogs playing at a park and going on runs while also commentating on bestiality. Reading this I was a little grossed but carried on. Then she moved onto to the “working” class of animals like horses, guide dogs and even to lab rats and other such animals. This was interesting as testing products on animals is one of the main concerns about animal rights so it was good to hear an argument from a so called “expert”. Then it was farm and wildlife animals.

Main ideas that were discussed that have a global scope were the declining number of biodiversity going on in the animal kingdom, climate change and its impact on the animal kingdom, and finally land use patterns.

Current News

Since Donald Trump has publicly denied climate change by labeling it a hoax created by the Chinese and with the election in full swing I thought it would be good to include this relevant news. Trump states that if in office then he will roll back and ease environmental policies that the Obama Administration had imposed, in an effort which Obama took very serious during his presidency, in an attempt to allow for business operations to be done with little government regulation. However the UN aims to control Trump from taking things too far and out of hand. The Paris Agreement, this article brings up, is a sort of saving grace.

Environmental news post- James Ormerod

November 9, 2016

How President Trump Will Affect Clean Energy and the Climate Change Fight

We just elected a president who believes climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. This is a major set back to the big push towards clean energy movement that has been building for the past decade. He pushes for removing regulations that would protect streams and wetlands from coal mining and claims that the Paris Climate agreement – an effort by major world leaders to address climate change on a political level – is unconstitutional. This means now more than ever we need take action towards issues of our fossil fuel consumption and make our voices heard. Putting the economy before the safety of our environment is not OK.

Placing Animals Discussion

November 9, 2016

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Initial thoughts: In my professional opinion this was not a great book as an academic resource. The good points could be summed up in less than 20 pages.

Discussion Questions and Points:

1. Any incredible revelations in the book? For me it was mostly becoming aware of contradictions in thought.

Bestiality, Called it! Also that guy did actually die and the act was while he was filming it if you are curious.

2. Differentiation of what an animal is and what it means to be human

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3. Animal Symbols

4. Dominance and control over animals

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5. Does labeling work? Is it possible to only purchase goods that you believe are completely ethical? Is this different in other places of the world?

6. Should animal farming for food be treated and studied differently than farming for furs or other non-food animal parts? Does the US have examples of this or just in other countries? Does this show an ethical, cultural, or economic differences?

7. Does the endangered species act contribute to the specieist problem by placing them above others and placing some of the only legal policy concerning animals to protect them? Should these lives always be put above others?

Image Source Death Valley pupfish

8. Does recognizing individual animals and the species needs within a lab ruin subjectivity?

9. Should we be aware that human interactions can affect or enhance human and nonhuman animal interactions?

10. Based on the strategies in the last textbook and the views in this book, is there a peaceful better solution for animal agriculture than going backwards?