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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Books I've Read: February 2016

Garbage Land: On The Secret Trail Of Trash by Elizabeth Royte.  The premise of this book is pretty simple: A woman wants to know what happens to her waste after she's done with it, so she tries to follow it.  I say "tries", because it's actually kind of difficult to follow some of your trash.  The book is divided into three sections: landfills, recycling, and sewers.

I'll be honest, everyone has their own level of grossness they can handle, and I made it through landfills and recycling with no problems, but some of the descriptions in the sewer section were a bit gag-inducing.  Imagine the smells.  Or don't, actually.

Most of the book was really informative, and although there were a few parts here and there where Royte went into the technical speak for too long, it was still fairly easy to read and interesting.  Which is impressive, considering the topic.  At the end, she got a little bit preachy about how we need to do a better job of producing less waste, which was undermined a bit by her statistic that consumers produce 2% of waste, and 98% is produced during the manufacturing process.

From reading this book, it seems like there is a way to reuse, recycle, or tear down into source materials pretty much everything, but because the process isn't profitable for a lot of things, it doesn't happen.

And now, quotes:

When talking about decomposition in landfills: "Set and setting hold much sway: depending on its burial context, a Granny Smith apple can biodegrade completely in two weeks or last several thousand years."

Towards people who say that recycling doesn't matter: "Recycling, however, is wise precisely because it's far-sighted.  Unfortunately, it isn't likely that we'll become truly efficient about resource recovery until we've exhausted all our raw materials (at which point the planet will be a fairly dismal place to live)."

On buying "green" products (those with recycled materials, minimal packaging, non-toxic materials, etc.): "Green purchasing tells us to vote with our wallets, but it ignores a third choice: not buying at all.  I resist the green buying message because I hate to think our strength is based in consumption, not in moral clarity."

Total books read this month: 1.  Total books read this year: 4.

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