How many garbage bags do you and your family fill each week? Watch a programme like Hoarders and the answer is probably, ďAs many as necessary!Ē But consider for a moment how many bags it would take to turn your home from the clean and tidy sanctuary it is into a reality television horror story.
For decades now society has been encouraged to consume and dispose, consume and dispose. Far too many have taken up the challenge with enthusiasm and little or no thought for the consequences. Once that black bag is dumped into the municipal bin on the pavement itís not really our problem, right?
, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes takes an in-depth look at the scale of the mess weíve gotten ourselves into, as well as how and why. The statistics are US-specific, but just a little research and thereís no denying that a) South Africa is not immune and b) it is us urban and suburban folk who are most responsible.
The book is not all doom and gloom and statistics, though. Humes introduces readers to an engaging cast of characters, from those who are slowly suffocating in their own garbage to those who have successfully reduced their personal loads, as well as the saints who spend their days surrounded by our trash, either collecting or working in landfills.
For the last few years Iíve made a concerted effort to reduce my waste. In the kitchen alone I save by seldom buying canned food, avoiding overly-packaged anything (sometimes purely on principle because it irritates me), making my own bread and avoiding food waste in any number of ways. In other areas I simply buy less; I no longer need so many things.
Even so, there is room for improvement and Humesís book does offer up plenty of ways to make even the smallest changes.
There is no preaching in Garbology
. Yes, it is a serious look at a serious problem, but the book is also interesting and engaging (and at times entertaining) and leaves it to readers to reach their own conclusions.
Well worth a read.
Avery Publishing Group
Publication date: April 2012