Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage

Rubbish The Archaeology of Garbage It is from the discards of former civilizations that archaeologists have reconstructed most of what we know about the past and it is through their examination of today s garbage that William Rathje a

  • Title: Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage
  • Author: William L. Rathje Cullen Murphy
  • ISBN: 9780816521432
  • Page: 223
  • Format: Paperback
  • It is from the discards of former civilizations that archaeologists have reconstructed most of what we know about the past, and it is through their examination of today s garbage that William Rathje and Cullen Murphy inform us of our present Rubbish is their witty and erudite investigation into all aspects of the phenomenon of garbage Rathje and Murphy show what the stuIt is from the discards of former civilizations that archaeologists have reconstructed most of what we know about the past, and it is through their examination of today s garbage that William Rathje and Cullen Murphy inform us of our present Rubbish is their witty and erudite investigation into all aspects of the phenomenon of garbage Rathje and Murphy show what the study of garbage tells us about a population s demographics and buying habits Along the way, they dispel the common myths about our garbage crisis about fast food packaging and disposable diapers, about biodegradable garbage and the acceleration of the average family s garbage output They also suggest methods for dealing with the garbage we do have.

    152 Comment

    • AJ says:

      A note to what Rubbish is not. It is not a book like the Story of Stuff, or Garbage Land that explores what happens when you throw something "away." Rubbish is literally about garbage archaeology and details the findings of a group of "garbologists" who examine the contents of garbage cans and landfills.The findings of the Garbage Project are certainly fascinating and worthwhile. In order to cut down on waste that makes it into landfills, it certainly helps to know what we are wasting in vast qu [...]

    • Pam says:

      I enjoyed this book a lot. My one complaint is that it is copyrighted 2001, and while that is only 11 years ago, it left me wondering about how some of the data they used has held up. Specifically, the authors mention the persistence of paper in landfills, and the reliance on newspapers to date the artifacts they find. How is this going for them now that newspaper subscriptions have crashed? So, I'd love an updated edition.Otherwise, I found the book amusing and entertaining and very easy to rea [...]

    • Danni Green says:

      These are some of the questions I was expecting this book would answer:+Where does my garbage go after I throw it out?+What is the impact of landfills on the environment and on the people who live near them?+What is it like to be a sanitation worker?These were not actually the questions that this book answered. The questions this book did answer were very interesting anyway! Some of those questions were:+How likely is it that people will tell the truth when you ask them a question about their pe [...]

    • Paul Mullins says:

      It is hard to imagine a more compelling and readable archaeological study, and the implications of the book on waste management and consumption patterns are astounding. When people ask me for the single archaeology book they should read, I always tell them to start with Rubbish.

    • Angela says:

      I gave up on this book I am not sure what I was expecting, but this reads too much like a research paper is interesting, but DRY

    • Cynthia says:

      side note: while discussing this book, I realized that most likely, it would one day become garbage itself. METAARCHAEOLOGY!That being saidis book was kind of awesome, kind of not. The awesome part: incredibly researched, truthful, and transformative. Environmentalism as a truth and a science, not as pop culture. SO MUCH GOOD INFORMATION! (Perhaps, one might say, like a landfill?)The kind of not part: there's a lot of talk and just enough pretention all over this narrative that made me reluctant [...]

    • Anna says:

      This is a fun book, especially for archaeologists and environmentalists -- I am both.Much as I enjoyed the approach, writing, and perspective, I did not buy many of the conclusions that the author drew. For example, the author is very defensive of plastic and styrofoam because he's only looking at weight and volume in landfills, not at the toxic qualities these materials possess during every phase of their life course as well as their permanence on this earth. I noticed that this project was fun [...]

    • Rachel says:

      I read this book as a part of my investigation into infrastructure topics and because of my passion for understanding environmental impacts of waste. This is a balance scientific view that really isn't available anywhere else (because no one else will do the research). The only downside is that it is comparatively out of date and it doesn't really delve into the underlying concerns with the waste cycle. Rather it uses waste as a way to understand humans (not make value assessments of their waste [...]

    • Elaine says:

      I would really appreciate a new, edited, updated edition, given how long it's been since this publication.

    • Tracey says:

      I bought Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage quite some time ago off a remainder table at Borders, according to the price tag. I'm glad it still seems to be in print. This book examines what our garbage tells about ourselves, both in terms of how we're currently dealing with it, as well as what the subtitle suggests. Rathje is the director of The Garbage Project at the University of Arizona Anthropology department. This project has explored our society over the past few decades both in terms of [...]

    • Cat. says:

      This was a fascinating book, albeit on the older side. The good news is that it has recently been updated by another book, called Garbage Land On the Secret Trail of Trash, which I haven't read (but probably will).In any case, if you want to know what The Arizona Garbage Project has learned from what we throw away, this book will be a fun read. We throw away a lot of food in this country, whether we want to admit it or not. And diapers? That bane of landfills is actually not that big of a deal. [...]

    • Vanessa says:

      If I'd realized this book was 20 years old, I probably wouldn't have picked it up, but it did have some interesting insights on the 'garbage problem'. For example, I learned that fast food packaging, disposable diapers, and other conspicuous waste items don't actually constitute a big portion of the garbage going into landfills - the largest percentages belong to much more mundane items like construction debris and paper. The book also repeats an important point about recycling, namely that it i [...]

    • Staci says:

      The book is interesting - most of our assumptions about what we throw away, how landfills work and what happens to our garbage over time are not based on actual evidence. His project is gathering that evidence. The discussion of plastics and materials is useful, as is his point that most things, especially paper, don't biodegrade even if they are technically able to do so. After awhile though, you get the point and he keeps repeating it - so worth a good skim, unless you're into watered down (bu [...]

    • Litza says:

      This is a remarkably sane, objective, and comprehensive account of a very complex set of issues aimed at a mass audience. The writing is far better than it needs to be for its purpose, making it a pleasure rather than a chore to read. And it has brought about major shifts in the way I think of our culture's waste. If you're someone who has ever worried about happens to your garbage when you throw it away, read this book -- it will probably reassure you on some issues, though it may shock you on [...]

    • Charles says:

      When I first read I thought this was an important book. I haven't changed my mind. Every article I read about the huge gryers of trash floating in the ocean (Moby Duck, etc), oil spills, air pollution, homeless barges of trash, toxic pollution, third world disposal of electronic waste, third world becoming the disposal site for first world disposal of dangerous waste and by products of industry, oil and coal production despoliation of land, air, and water I wonder at what the hell we think we're [...]

    • Nathan says:

      Not about the garbage you toss (per se), but literally about digging into trash piles and doing archeological studies on the stuff they found. One study estimated the percentage of recycling in the 70’s based on the type and frequency of beer can pull-tabs (studies found that the cans were recycled, but tabs were tossed).

    • Jeanne says:

      This book is based on the The Garbage Project out of the University of Arizona. I found it fascinating. I didn't read it word-for-word, but by skimming it I learned about garbology and the history of garbage and how garbologists interpret their findings in landfills. (They can actually go down to the 1940's level of garbage and compare it to more recent decades.)

    • Jessie B. says:

      An interesting look at garbage, what makes it up, what is says about demographics , how is is dealt with and how that is changing as well as critically looking at attempts like recycling to reduce it.

    • Amanda says:

      It was ok, I learned a lot about human behavior, but some of the information is outdated. I would like to read a more updated version especially with the green movement that has been going on for the past 20 years.

    • Grillables says:

      Interesting stuff! Some surprising conclusions about what actually does - and doesn't - happen to garbage (particularly in landfills, though other garbage disposal methods and recycling are also discussed), and some interesting advice about how to think about and deal with the problem of garbage.

    • Shawna says:

      Not as interesting as I envisioned. The book did illuminate that Seattle has a progressive garbage system. Citizens pay by the size of their trash can and all recycling is free. This encourages citizens to be very aware of what they throw away and what they recycle.

    • Suzi says:

      An anthropological study on what our society throws away. Makes some surprising insights into socio-economic trash trends and explains the science of landfills.

    • Jen (NerdifiedJen) says:

      Fascinating. You'll never think about garbage the same way again.

    • Bernard Chen says:

      I wanted to get a better idea of my role in the eco-system and this is _the_ Ur-book on urban trash and its lifecycle.

    • Becky Fowler says:

      Who would've thought trash could be so fascinating?

    • Kate says:

      Very good, but all the information/trends discussed in their findings are about a generation old.

    • Chris says:

      Weirdest student projects ever.

    • Jen says:

      Good, quick read. Interesting. Informative. Full of things that are important to know. A bit preachy at the end. Tant pis.

    • Jada Roche says:

      Possibly the driest and most repetative book about garbage I've readI've always been fascinated by the garbage project, and thought this would be stories about it more than dry facts. My mistake.

    • Stephen says:

      Using real data - in the form of digs and core samples - to separate myths from facts about garbage and the economy.

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