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Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage
Synopses & Reviews
From waste basket to landfill, a vertiginous descent into the mysteriously hellish world of trash.
- The average American discards almost seven pounds of trash per day.
- With only 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. consumes 30 percent of the planet's resources and churns out 30 percent of its wastes.
- Garbage production in the United States has doubled in the last thirty years.
- About 80 percent of U.S. products are used once, then thrown away.
- 95 percent of all plastic, two-thirds of all glass containers, and 50 percent of all aluminum beverage cans are never recycled; instead they just get burned or buried.
Every day a phantasmagoric rush of spent, used, and broken riches flows through our homes, offices, and cars. The United States is the planet's number-one producer of trash; each American discards over 2,600 pounds annually. But where does all that garbage go?
In Gone Tomorrow, journalist Heather Rogers guides us through the grisly, oddly fascinating world of trash. Excavating the history of rubbish handling from the 1800s--an era of garbage-grazing urban hogs and dump-dwelling rag pickers--to the present, with its brutally violent mob-controlled cartels and high-tech rural mega-fills operated by billion-dollar garbage corporations, Rogers investigates the roots of America's waste-addicted culture. Gone Tomorrow also explores the politics of recycling, a popular but limited solution that, as Rogers points out, should only be seen as a first step toward much greater reform.
Part expose, part social commentary, this work traces the connections between modern industrial production, consumer culture, and our disposable lifestyle.
"Americans produce the most waste of any people on Earth, says Rogers, but few of us ever think about where all that trash goes. Rogers endeavors to show the inner workings of the waste stream, from the garbage truck to the landfill, incinerator or parts unknown. She points out that recycling, once touted as an environmental lifesaver, 'has serious flaws,' and has done little to mitigate garbage's long history of environmental damage. Rogers also includes chapters on the history of waste removal and disposal, highlighting early sanitation efforts in New York City, as well as the multi-billion-dollar, multinational business of garbage. Consistently engaging, the book delineates the myriad problems caused by the country's waste output, but offers very few concrete examples of what readers can do to improve the garbage situation; instead, Rogers stoically acknowledges that 'while consumers making choices with the environment in mind is a good thing, it is in no way a real solution to our trash woes.' Nevertheless, the book is an intriguing look into an often misunderstood and overlooked industry. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
After completing her 2002 documentary film of the same name, Rogers realized there was much more to garbage than would fit on the screen. She focuses on household waste—rather than industrial, agricultural and so on—because that is the interface with average people. Her topics include the waste stream, rationalized waste, the sanitary landfill, waste and environmentalism, and the corporatization of garbage.
Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Part expose, part social commentary, this work traces the connections between modern industrial production, consumer culture, and America's disposable lifestyle.
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Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General