Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage

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9780816521432: 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 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.

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About the Author:

William Rathje is Director of the Garbage Project in the Bureau of Applied Reserach in Anthropology and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Cullen Murphy is Managing Editor of and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly. He lives in Boston.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Twenty years ago, Rathje founded the Univ. of Arizona's Garbage Project, a program in which students sample, sort, and tabulate the awful offal collected from selected households, landfills, and other repositories of garbage, making comparisons on the basis of time, social class, and other variables. Here, he and Murphy, managing editor of The Atlantic, cull from the record astonishing data to counter many a myth. ``We do not necessarily know many things that we think we know,'' the authors cannily remark. Item: We are about to be buried in a sea of plastics. Not so, say Rathje and Murphy; compacted in a landfill, plastic represents 16 percent of the volume. Paper, on the other hand, represents over 40 percent; food and yard waste 7 percent; construction debris 12 percent. Item: These are the worst of times. No, garbage disposal has plagued all cultures, everywhere. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of dead horses that had to be disposed of before automobiles came along. The authors speak knowingly of the ancient Maya, lavish wasters at the time of their cultural ascendancy, frugal recyclers when the end was near. There's even a whole chapter on disposable diapers that should reassure many a guilt-ridden parent. And the point is that there are things that can be done to reduce the burden: no single magic-bullet approach, but wise use of a variety of approaches, including sanitary landfills, recycling, incineration, and ``source reduction.'' Do not provide consumers with large garbage containers (which automatically become filled in accord with Parkinson's Law), but do charge consumers by the volume of nonrecyclable trash. And so on and on--in a refreshing treatment of a subject not usually associated with refreshment. (Line drawings throughout.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description University of Arizona Press, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780816521432

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Book Description University of Arizona Press, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780816521432

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