Gone Tomorrow by Heather Rogers
The New Press 2005
Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. It's never far away. It has been pouring rain since I woke up this morning. It is now 10:30pm, the rain is still coming down and the wind is still blowing. In the large lot outside my apartment window, there is garbage roaming around freely, propelled by the wind. On this street, the night before garbage pick-up everyone in the surrounding buildings places their garbage bags in the lot and the next morning the owner of the lot will take the garbage out to the curb. This is a somewhat flawed method for getting rid of all of our garbage. Sometimes bags rip open, and their contents are strewn about and dispersed throughout the area. Hence the cigarette packs, potato chip bags, Pepsi bottles and other trash items finding new homes in the lot and nearby yards. I find myself inspired now and then, so I venture out into the lot on nice sunny days with an industrial sized garbage bag and a pair of work gloves and I pick up trash for a few hours. The lot will look fairly decent for a few days, and then garbage night comes around again and the cycle starts over. This is the process that was going through my head while I was reading "Gone Tomorrow" and again, tonight when I sat down to write this post.
Why aren't there more books written about garbage? Elizabeth Royte's, Garbage Land was the first book that I read on the subject and I am aware of a few others that are among the masses of books that I hope to read someday, most notably, High Tech Trash by Elizabeth Grossman. It seems like such an important subject, if anyone can recommend any books to me, I would be grateful.
Gone Tomorrow by Heather Rogers starts off with a brief history of trash removal and leads up to our current predicament. The facts are sobering, very upsetting and layed out with many footnotes to back them up. We have been heading down a dangerous path for a very long time now and our over consumption is coming to an end whether we are prepared for it or not. We can swim in garbage and filth and waste or we can wake up and take some action to save what is not already "trashed". Recycling alone won't be enough; that is one of the main things that I took away from this book. We need deeper answers. Heather Rogers has written an alarming and critical book, read it and pass it on.