Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash

Written by Edward Humes

OPL BOOK SUMMARY:  Reading Edward Humes’s book is like taking a class on garbage in the United States. Humes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, shares how the American lifestyle creates wastefulness.  Incredibly, each American produces about 7 pounds of garbage per day. In a lifetime, an American creates 102 tons.  Americans are the biggest trash producers in the world. Germany and Italy produce 50% less garbage than the United States. Humes shares that if every country consumed and threw away at the rate of Americans it would require five planets of resources to create the products.  Imagine the landfills around the world — an earth of trash heaps. We have been led to largely ignore our trash problem.  It is time to open our eyes and make changes. 

Hume’s book is a great way to understand our mountains of garbage, what happens to it, and explore solutions.   We learn about reducing waste using the power of “no” like Bea Johnson, whose family moved to a zero-waste lifestyle. Denmark is a leader in recycling on a massive scale.  For the small percentage of things not recycled, Denmark has a waste-to-energy program.  Garbology is a great book to explore the state of trash and potential solutions. 

It is time to end our “love affair with trash” as Hume states.  Individuals, communities, businesses, and governments will need to make changes to move to a low-waste lifestyle for the benefit of all.  We recommend adding this illuminating read to your list and start reducing your trash. 

Available used at BetterWorldBooks.