Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book One: Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash

I found Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, written by Elizabeth Royte, to be fairly entertaining.

Royte attempts to track where her garbage, recycled goods, and even sewage go, as a resident of New York City. She runs into a variety of obstacles - reluctant junkyard managers, un-forthcoming landfill operators, and even run-ins with the law. To be fair, she technically does trespass, and doesn't end up facing any consequences from those actions anyway, but it certainly does make for a more interesting book. The book is interesting, too - Royte goes so far as to follow her "san men" - her trash collectors - on their route, and attempts to help them as they collect (literally) tons of garbage on their trips around the city.

Garbage Land wasn't as preachy as I expected, given that it's a book written about an environmental topic. It followed the predictable format that most non-fiction books inevitably follow; the first 60-75% is facts, the "this is the problem," while the end is the "This is what *I* think you should do about it."

I came away from the book with the following thoughts:
-Don't buy things in glass containers, as they don't break down and there really doesn't seem to be much market for the recycling of it.
-Buy aluminum cans over plastic soda bottles, because metal can be used repeatedly while plastic can only, realistically, be used once or maybe two more times.

Ultimately, though, we're presented with some dismal statistics. Consumer "waste" and "trash" really doesn't represent very much of the problem at all, and perhaps, by putting the onus of recycling and waste reduction on consumers, attention is diverted from the monumental problems of industrial waste and the sheerly massive quantities of packaging hefted onto us by manufacturers.

Not one I'll keep in my library, but I'd give it a solid B.

One down, 51 to go this year! Next up: Richard Russo's Empire Falls.

1 comment:

  1. I think I need to set a book goal for myself. I haven't read a book since last summer. How sad is that?