Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage

William Rathje, Author, William Ratheje, Author, Cullen Murphy, With HarperCollins Publishers $23 (250p) ISBN 978-0-06-016603-8
One of the central tenets of the University of Arizona's Garbage Project is that ``what people have owned--and thrown away--can speak more eloquently, informatively, and truthfully about the lives they lead than they themselves ever may.'' Project garbologists have alchemized more than 250,000 pounds of refuse--from landfills and from trash cans in selected neighborhoods--into a treasure trove for experts in marketing and consumer research, census studies and environmentalism. Garbologists have determined that people waste three times more beef when the meat is in short supply than when it is plentiful; that many women use birth-control pills incorrectly; and that lower-income families consistently buy small-size, brand-name products rather than cheaper generic ones. Erudite and witty cultural tour guides, Rathje, an archeologist and anthropologist who directs the Project, and Atlantic managing editor Murphy claim that our garbage problems are solvable; that, with proper safeguards, incineration may be a viable option in some communities; and that paper--not disposable diapers or fast-food packaging--is a chief culprit in overloading landfills. Illustrated. First serial to Smithsonian; BOMC and QPB alternates; author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-06-092228-3
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