Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Big Apple in Garbage

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Big Apple in Garbage

Article excerpt

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royte, New York: Little, Brown, 2005.

Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land, touches on the politics of recycling programs as she takes the plunge into one of North America's oldest, largest and dirtiest waste disposal systems.

The genesis for the book is Royte's kitchen floor, where she sorts her garbage to discover the ultimate destinations of her trash. By repeatedly returning to the kitchen, Royte reduces the massive New York City system to a conceivable perspective.

Royte's search leads her through landfill disposal sites, composting stations, sewage and water treatment plants, and recycling facilities. As she follows the path of her garbage, the author gets right into the dirt of her subject. She canoes to off-limit landfill sites, rides with garbage collectors, and tromps through the bone-ridden shores of Dead Horse Bay, an abandoned disposal centre for dead horses dating from an earlier time when the animals were New York's main form of transportation.


From individual homegrown systems and neighbourhood compost farms to energy-producing composting generators and statewide garbage monopolies, Garbage Land is an account of the different systems that deal with waste.

While the setting of the book is mainly New York, an island city that by necessity ships most of its garbage elsewhere, Canadian readers will appreciate the global appeal of the message. The book illustrates the manner in which different systems work separately and together to dispose of waste. …

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