In “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” Edward Humes takes the reader to the Pacific Ocean where currents swirl with plastic bits and scientists study how it’s affecting plants and animals and how to clean it up. He shows us giant sanitary landfills and explains how they work. He gives a history of trash and how civilization has dealt with it over the years.
Where does all the trash come from? He recounts how, in the 1940s, marketing and design leader J. Gordon Lippincott summed it up:
“Our willingness to part with something before it is completely worn out is a phenomenon noticeable in no other society in history … It is soundly based on our economy of abundance. It must be further nurtured even though it runs contrary to one of the oldest inbred laws of humanity, the law of thrift.”
Thanks to television and savvy marketing, it was nurtured well, and we have been running contrary to the laws of thrift ever since.
This book is a good overview of trash, how we produce it and what we do with it.
It’s not all gloom and doom. Humes talks with entrepreneurs who are working on sustainable, reusable products. He profiles a family that lives without using plastic of any kind. He shows how some governments are coping with trash problems and encouraging more recycling.
And he offers some tips to be less wasteful. Among them: Refuse junk; go for used and refurbished products instead of new; stop buying bottled water and stop using plastic grocery bags.
This is a well written and researched look at our trash problems. It’s an eye opener for the average American and will get you thinking about how much you waste every day. It’s definitely worth reading.