Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte
On the Secret Trail of Trash

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Synopsis

Out of sight, out of mind ... Into our trash cans go dead batteries, dirty diapers, bygone burritos, broken toys, tattered socks, eight-track cassettes, scratched CDs, banana peels.... But where do these things go next? In a country that consumes and then casts off more and more, what actually happens to the things we throw away? In Garbage Land, acclaimed science writer Elizabeth Royte leads us on the wild adventure that begins once our trash hits the bottom of the can. Along the way, we meet an odor chemist who explains why trash smells so bad; garbage fairies and recycling gurus; neighbors of massive waste dumps; CEOs making fortunes by encouraging waste or encouraging recycling-often both at the same time; scientists trying to revive our most polluted places; fertilizer fanatics and adventurers who kayak amid sewage; paper people, steel people, aluminum people, plastic people, and even a guy who swears by recycling human waste. With a wink and a nod and a tightly clasped nose, Royte takes us on a bizarre cultural tour through slime, stench, and heat-in other words, through the back end of our ever-more supersized lifestyles. By showing us what happens to the things we've "disposed of," Royte reminds us that our decisions about consumption and waste have a very real impact-and that unless we undertake radical change, the garbage we create will always be with us: in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we consume. Radiantly written and boldly reported, Garbage Land is a brilliant exploration into the soiled heart of the American trash can.
 

About Elizabeth Royte

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Elizabeth Royte is a contributing writer for Outside magazine. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone.
 
Published October 15, 2007 by Back Bay Books. 320 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Only 100 years ago, 100,000 pigs cleaned New York City’s streets of the organic wastes casually thrown there, but now the pigs—which created their own organic wastes, it must be said—are gone, and our wastes are different, consisting of more paper, more glass, more plastic.

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

The New York Times

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Royte's quest to see where her discards end up hits a number of human obstacles: in parts of the waste underworld, people don't want to talk to her or let her view their landfills or plants.

Jul 10 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

Publishers Weekly

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As the NIMBY logic of waste disposal forces its practitioners into secrecy, Royte is obliged to engage in some entertainingly furtive skullduggery.

May 09 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

Entertainment Weekly

Unable to quell her curiosity about where, exactly, her garbage was headed after her local ''san man'' tossed it into his truck, Elizabeth Royte set off on a cross-country journey to scuzzy waterways, sewage-purifying plants, recycling facilities, and diaper-strewn landfills.

Jul 27 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

People

Looking for exercise one day, author Royte took a paddle along a Brooklyn waterway—where floating trash made her wonder where her own garbage went.

Jul 25 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

Daily Kos

As we are in the middle of the holiday (consuming) season, I thought a book review of Elizabeth Royte's book: Garbage Land, On The Secret Trail of Trash (link to the Grist store site for the book: http://astore.amazon.com/...

Dec 17 2007 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

Bookmarks Magazine

Altschuler Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 3 of 5 Stars "Royte is an entertaining writer .

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

TreeHugger

Instead, we have to think about what Andrew Light calls our ecological citizenship, "a ground of moral and political environmental responsibility for one's duties to the human and natural communities one inhabits and interacts with" The author ends with the realization: "we can recycle and compos...

Aug 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

On Earth.

But my interlude at the waste bins tells me that we've got a ways to go down the path toward sustainable packaging (an ideal that ought to include no packaging).

Dec 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Garbage Land: On the Secret T...

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