Garbology by Edward Humes


9 Critic Reviews

In Garbology, the author takes a sober look at a very serious threat to our world, but he does so in an extremely inviting style.
-Blog Critics


A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist takes readers on a surprising tour of the world of garbage.

Take a journey inside the secret world of our biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash. It’s the biggest thing we make: The average American is on track to produce a whopping 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime, $50 billion in squandered riches rolled to the curb each year, more than that produced by any other people in the world. But that trash doesn’t just magically disappear; our bins are merely the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century.

In Garbology, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Edward Humes investigates the trail of that 102 tons of trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ immense Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists in residence at San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

digs through our epic piles of trash to reveal not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Are we destined to remain the country whose number-one export is scrap—America as China’s trash compactor—or will the country that invented the disposable economy pioneer a new and less wasteful path? The real secret at the heart of Garbology may well be the potential for a happy ending buried in our landfill. Waste, Humes writes, is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.

About Edward Humes

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EDWARD HUMES is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author whose eleven previous books include Force of Nature, Eco Barons, and the PEN Award–winning No Matter How Loud I Shout. He lives in Seal Beach, California.
Published April 19, 2012 by Avery. 289 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Professional & Technical, Business & Economics, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Garbology
All: 9 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 2


Mar 01 2012

An important addition to the environmentalist bookshelf.

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Publishers Weekly

Apr 09 2012

Humes' take on the science and culture of "garbology" is both academic and deeply personal, making this a fascinating read.

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Blog Critics

Reviewed by Greg Barbrick on Apr 17 2012

In Garbology, the author takes a sober look at a very serious threat to our world, but he does so in an extremely inviting style.

Read Full Review of Garbology | See more reviews from Blog Critics

WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Marc Levinson on Apr 17 2012

Taking his advice may make you feel good, but it won't do much to save the planet.

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Reviewed by Jenifer McKim on Apr 19 2012

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has written an eye-opening account reminding us of something we try to forget...

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Englewood Review of Books

Reviewed by Gary Wake on Jun 07 2012

Though Garbology can feel a little dismal ... he manages to encourage readers to roll up their sleeves and get busy on ways to reduce our 102 ton legacy.

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Columbia Journalism Review

Below average
Reviewed by Daniel Luzer on Jun 04 2012

This is a fundamental problem with the book: Humes is far too interested in describing the people and the way they’re figuring out what’s going on with America’s waste system.

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Book Loons

Reviewed by Bob Walch

A quick read, this fascinating book offers plenty of food for thought...

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Brad Linder's blog

May 18 2012

Garbology is a very readable volume, thanks to the author's method of combining statistics and facts with anecdotes and profiles of individuals...

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