Garbage Book Club-Launch!

If you know me then you know I love to read. I’m hoping that you do to, because LOOK OUT here come the BOOKS!!


These are sort of categorized by subject but in no particular order. I’d love to do a guided reading of a couple of these, but for now, here are the top 5 books from this list that you need to read to get in touch with your trashy academic side.


Top 5 Books

1.  “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash”, Edward Humes

This is the perfect introduction to garbage, and it’s the first on this list for a reason. Touching on numerous trashy topics, Edward Humes writes in a clear, easy to understand tone. You’ll never think about garbage the same way again.

2. “Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City”, Robin Nagel

If you loved reading about the people involved in the waste industry in “Garbology”, then “Picking Up” by Robin Nagel is the obvious next step. This woman JOINED the New York Sanitation Department in order to learn more about it, and her journey to and from there is absolutely worth the read.

3.  “The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health- and a Vision for Change”, Annie Leanard

If you’re tired from reading the first two books, then you’re in luck because Annie Leanard has made “The Story of Stuff” an easily accessible YouTube video. From the original classic to newly updated mini-series, this book/video will teach you about WHY we consume so much, and how we can stop.

4. “Plastic: A Toxic Love Story” Susan Freinkel

This book is for the person who’s constantly asking, “Can this be recycled?” Susan Freinkel goes into the history of plastics, chemical makeup of our most-used products, and their impact on our health. If you microwave your lunch in plastic containers, this book is a must-read.

5. “The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time”, Dr. Paul Connett

Now that you’re all sad about the state of the world, I’ll advise you to read “The Zero Waste Solution” to regain the pep in your step. As the title implies, this book is all about solutions and success stories in creating Zero Waste companies, communities, and cities all over the world.

Real book are great, but for even less impact try out an e-reader!

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

Do you STILL have a Christmas Tree?

Not judging, but some of us keep our Christmas Trees around way longer than we should. And so what? The trees smell nice, look pretty, and remind us of the holidays. They’re also heavy and hard to carry out the door.

However, when we finally realize that it’s now late-February and there is still tinsel littering the living room, a whole new activity magically appears: spotting old and abandoned Christmas trees on street curbs.


‘Tis the season.

This may not sound like a fun hobby, but trust me that it is. It also lives within a very narrow window, and now is the perfect time to spot an out-of-season holiday tree in your neighborhood.


Sleep well, little tree.

But after all the holiday fun and cheer, where do these trees go and what happens to them?

TLDR: Trees are plants. Plants can get composted. Tinsel and ornaments are made of plastics. Plastic cannot be composted.


Photo creds: me, 2015


Trees get collected by a waste hauler just like the rest of your trash, then get taken to a transfer station, where they are sorted away from the other material for further processing.

  • Sent through a wood chipper and turned into biofuel (burned for energy)
  • Mulched into compost (mixed with other plants/food scraps and eaten by microbes)
  • Something cool could happen to them Continue reading

The Garbage Life Chose Me

Hi, I’m Natalie. You can call me The Garbage Girl. Why? Mainly because I don’t want anyone to be confused as to what this is all about.


Contemporary American culture promotes a system of rapid material extraction and discard in order to achieve some prescribed level of material wealth and happiness. This is all fine and good except that we live on a single planet of finite resources. There’s also that pesky trend that connects GDP growth with resource extraction. Basically a recipe for planetary destruction.

And I contribute to this issue! I drive a car, I buy new clothes, I’ve been known to take home leftovers in Styrofoam boxes, and make only a minimal effort to live a Pinterest approved Zero Waste lifestyle.


Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, please email me. I need help. P.S. If you don’t know what this mason jar full of trash is, don’t worry, we’ll get there.

But back to garbage- why? Every person on this planet creates garbage, and every person is affected by it in some way. Garbage creates a context where I can discuss public health, economics, sociology, culture, mass media, the environment, science, history, international relations, human rights, art, and of course, our one and only finite planet.

If any of these sound interesting to you, please come back periodically to see what’s new on the blog. I’ll discuss recycling and composting, reduction and redesign, the Zero Waste movement and lifestyle, and maybe even throw in a book club or movie night here and there. If I can really get my act together, there will be some interviews with professional garbage people. Fun!

I might be really bad at this writing thing, but I do have the garbage part under control. Thanks for reading, sharing, and following, and I look forward to seeing you again soon! :