Bring Your Questions for Edward Humes, author of Garbology

We are quite fond of talking trash, literally: see our “Economics of Trash” podcast, and our “Weird Recycling” episode, and even the “Power of Poop.”

The journalist Edward Humes is also fascinated with trash. His new book Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash is about the 102 tons of garbage the average American produces in a lifetime. Humes writes about what’s in our trash, how different communities deal with it, and how we might could think about trash differently: “Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change — and prosper in the process.” 

Humes has agreed to field your trash questions, so ask away in the comments section and, as always, we’ll post his answers in short order. To get you started, here’s the table of contents from Garbology:

Introduction: 102 Tons
(or: Becoming China’s Trash Compactor)

PART 1. THE BIGGEST THING WE MAKE
1. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
2. Piggeries and Burn Piles: An American Trash Genesis
3. From Trash TV to Landfill Rodeos
4. The Last and Future Kingdom
5. Down to the Sea in Chips
6. Nerds vs. Nurdles

PART 2. THE TRASH DETECTIVES
7. The Trash Trackers
8. Decadence Now

PART 3. THE WAY BACK
9. Pick of the Litter
10. Chico and the Man
11. Green Cities and Garbage Death Rays
12. Put-Downs, Pickups and the Power of No

Epilogue: Garbage In, Garbage Out  

This post is no longer accepting comments. The answers to the Q&A can be found here.

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  1. AJ Weberman says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Clancy says:

    Any research out there on container deposits? Do they actually reduce littering? Increase recycling? Is 5 cents an insignificant amount of money?

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  3. Geoff says:

    Beyond composting, what is the single most effective lifestyle change or habit we can change to reduce our personal landfill contribution?

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  4. vimspot says:

    Back in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg realized the cost of recycling outweighed the benefits and halted the cities’ (non-paper) recycling). Eventually, the pros outweighed the cons, and nyc recycled again. Should cities be thinking in these terms? What do you think of Bloomber’s 2002 decision?

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  5. Erud1t3 says:

    What is the item that is thrown out most frequently and/or has the most share in our garbage?
    To what extent does trash reveal the consumption preferences of the average American household (and what are they)?

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  6. Gene Hayward says:

    In your opinion, what (if anything) do we recycle now that after all the costs and benefits are weighed we would be better off just putting it in a landfill and be done with it?

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  7. Candace says:

    Waste incineration is economically viable for large population centers with stable economies. Does literature exist to analyze if your smaller boom & bust community is a good fit for waste incineration? Harrisonburg PA is a cautionary tale

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  8. frankenduf says:

    what’s up with people who litter?- is littering universal? cultural? – who wins for litteriest city vs. cleanest city?- what are the best public policies to minimize litter?- thanx garbage guy :)- ru related to Dave?

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    • caleb b says:

      I vote for Shreveport, LA as the most littered city. There’s garbage everywhere in that town.

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