Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Edward Humes's Garbology is a powerful book that analyzes the social, economic, and environmental impact of the wastefulness of American society. Through Humes's scientific and sociological approach, readers are provided an insight into alarming statistics on American wastefulness. Readers may find themselves considering their own patterns in regard to what they throw away, how much, and why, as they learn that the average American throws away 100 tons of trash in a lifetime! While Humes discusses the start and growth of landfills, readers can begin to obtain a picture at the scope and scale of America's trash problem.
The American culture of surplus, excess, and wastefulness is called into sharp focus as Humes examines the lives of individual hoarders, American companies, and the ways in which Global South nations are used as the United States' dumping grounds. Particularly, Humes pulls on our heartstrings when he devotes a chapter to discussing the environmental impacts of American wastefulness. Humes particularly examines the effects of trash pollution on marine life, and he provides upsetting statistics on debris and plastic found in the intestinal tracts of marine mammals and fish. Discussing these impacts certainly presents our trash problem as a moral and ethical problem in addition to an economic and logistical one. Humes ends the book on a positive note by detailing the ways in which individuals, companies, and nations can and are finding environmentally friendly solutions to wastefulness and trash excess. The ending of this book serves to encourage and inspire readers to take part in these solutions.