Thursday, August 5, 2010

Garbage Land

I have had this book for ages, but hadn't gotten around to picking it up. I'm really glad I finally did. I really enjoyed it. It was a fast, but important read.

Garbage Land is the story of where your waste goes--to a landfill, waste water treatment plant, recycling facility, or composting site. Royte lives in NYC and based her travels on where her personal trash went.

Living in a small town, where I can and have visited the dump or recycling site, I found the descriptions of big city facilities interesting. I also think based on my own experiences, I knew some of what to expect. (I've pulled stuff out of the metal pile. Evan found a thermarest, a camping sleeping pad, with a small hole and repaired it.)

Garbage Land is one of those books that makes you feel discouraged about the state of the world and your place in it. But, in a good way! It made me think a lot about the waste I produce and where it goes. I think all of us know that we could do better in reducing, reusing, and recycling.

The book acknowledges the downsides of recycling, including the fact that municipal trash is only about 2% of all the waste created in the US . Despite that, she writes of the value of recycling and the importance of reducing. Things you throw out create plenty of waste when they are created. When you reduce your consumption, it also reduces the 98% of other waste created.

I think that you should read this book because I think everyone should know where their waste goes. If you like Mary Roach's books (Stiff, Bonk, and Spook) I think you'd like this too. Royte's writing doesn't have the same humor that Roach's does, but it's easy to read non-fiction by a chatty author that covers some important and interesting topics. I've also read Royte's Bottlemania, which is about bottled water and is way more interesting than you'd think.


  1. Hi:
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  2. This sounds so interesting. I'm definitely adding it to my reading list.