I’ve been anti-littering advocate for as long as I can remember. School mates would pocket their junk, joking they’d be mortified if someone saw them pick up trash when I’d tell them to do so. Parents soon learned that my little self will either pout and moralize about thrown trash, or go pick it up, even if it’s dirty, and carry it with me until we find a place to throw it out. I never felt shame to pick something off the floor and throw it in the bin, never took checks or paper information from ATM’s, always refused physical statement letters, and even books I more often choose in digital form, or take them from library. So when I saw “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash” (ISBN 1583334343; 288p.; Goodreads) by Edward Humes on NetGalley, I just had to ask for it. And so here we are.
This book mostly speaks of Americans, but a little of research will confirm – Europe is only a fraction better, and that’s just because we have a few truly magnificent countries here. And now brace yourself. The number is 102 TONS of trash legacy per person. There are patches in the ocean with literal trash chowder in it, so thick one can barely, if at all, see the water itself. Some items we buy, like hair conditioner, cost less than the packaging they come in. Some mountains and parks didn’t exist until the day a landfill there was officially full and had to be closed down. They buried it, planted trees, and ta-da! Let’s pretend we didn’t just shit all over our planet with our disposable life-style. For it is easier to have a b-day party in park with plastic plates to throw out, than bring home your ceramic ones for a wash and re-use.
But we’re not helpless in this. Put down your riot/strike-gear, leave that paper for posters alone for better use, and rather start with yourself. Not even your whole home, you are enough. Small example: got a reusable grocery bag? Never forget it going out the door. A plastic bag is what? 0.14e? That’s 0.14 you personally are NOT giving to corporations that thrive on you needing a new one the next time you come in. There’s no profit in being green, so why would they care? And saying “someone else will still buy it” is no excuse: personal responsibility is key here.
I really expected to find someone angry and grumbling, scaring us into living like hermits. But truth is, author is kind and understanding. He tells us of these great people, and these scary people, all the while inspiring us. And then adds that small things matter, like tying a bag in a knot so that it won’t get blown out of the landfill and end up in your lake, river, ocean: it matters. So I give this book 5 out of 5. It may not be the best you can find, but it sure is a good motivator, and an even better start.