Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal Our World By Edward Humes Cover Image

Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal Our World (Hardcover)

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An investigative narrative that dives into the waste embedded in our daily lives—and shows how individuals and communities are making a real difference for health, prosperity, quality of life and the fight against climate change, by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist

What happens to our trash? Why are our oceans filling with plastic? Do we really waste 40 percent of our food 65 percent of our energy? Waste is truly our biggest problem, and solving our inherent trashiness can fix our economy, our energy costs, our traffic jams, and help slow climate change—all while making us healthier, happier and more prosperous.     This story-driven and in-depth exploration of the pervasive yet hard-to-see wastefulness that permeates our daily lives illuminates the ways in which we've been duped into accepting absolutely insane levels of waste as normal. Total Garbage also tells the story of individuals and communities who are finding the way back from waste, and showing us that our choices truly matter and make a difference.
    Our big environmental challenges – climate, energy, plastic pollution, deforestation, toxic emissions—are often framed as problems too big for any one person to solve. Too big even for hope. But when viewed as symptoms of a single greater problem—the epic levels of trash and waste we produce daily--the way forward is clear. Waste is the one problem individuals can positively impact—and not just on the planet, but also on our wallets, our health, and national and energy security. The challenge is seeing our epic wastefulness clearly.
    Total Garbage will shine a light on the absurdity of the systems that all of us use daily and take for granted--and it will help both individuals and communities make meaningful changes toward better lives and a cleaner, greener world.

About the Author

Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author whose sixteen previous books include The Forever Witness, Mississippi Mud, Garbology,  and the PEN Award–winning No Matter How Loud I Shout. Ed and his family, including their rescued racing greyhounds, live in Southern California.

Praise For…

"This timely, highly recommended book makes a strong case for taking practical steps to reduce nonrenewable consumption and waste."  
--Library Journal, starred review

"An engrossing, practical guide to living healthier, less improvident lives and benefiting the planet by doing so."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Total Garbage is an engaging and uplifting book that offers compelling stories from experts and activists and strong recommendations to cut through the complacency or resignation that stymie efforts to create a greener, cleaner, more efficient world."

“Humes is back to make you want to read about waste again. Total Garbage is like a constellation of stories about people who shine brightly on their own, and yet together illuminate a path forward on one of the most pressing issues of our time, making waste obsolete.”
—Dr. Jenna Jambeck, MacArthur genius grantee and coauthor of Plastics

“Our system produces waste almost as if that was its intent; but there are always people thinking deeper and more clearly, and their stories will help you see the possibilities for a very different world!”
--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"Covering everything from your kitchen table to the depths of the ocean, this is the book to inform you about one of the biggest, most substantial crises humanity faces today: garbage. Thoughtful, inspiring, concerning, and even fun, Humes' book will entertain and inform you in ways that may well save both your life and our planet. Enjoy!”
--Thom Hartmann, radio personality and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
"Edward Humes’s subject is waste, and he doesn’t waste a word making his eye-opening case. He zeroes in on ordinary things—food, energy, buildings, cars, clothing—that have morphed into grotesque, life-threatening, planet-destroying problems. For instance, plastics—a brilliant, almost indestructible invention we’re now ludicrously using to make things like potato chip bags that will be thrown away in minutes and last for centuries. But Humes is here to help, not horrify, and he introduces us to extraordinary, smart, indefatigable people who offer practical, affordable answers, concepts that in a few more years may well become household words—heat pumps, induction stoves, passive houses, community solar gardens, rural electric gardens, urban microfarms, refill stores, and thrifting. Total Garbage is total gold!"
--Tony Hiss, award-winning author of Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth
“This brilliant book will first make you angry and then motivated to do more to protect this blue planet on which we all depend. It exposes the bafflingly wasteful practices that have become commonplace in modern society and goes further to provide clear ways we can act right now to solve our most pressing environmental problems. From passive houses, induction stoves, refillable bottles, electric golf carts, and new laws that would force firms away from disposable, single-use packaging, we see here a mix of individual and collective actions that can make a real difference in the real world. The gas industry and businesses hoping to preserve the status quo will probably call this book total garbage, but don’t buy what they’re selling. The stories told here will open your eyes to the possibilities of a future in which kids don’t get asthma from indoor gas ranges and where we avoid eating a credit card's worth of microplastics every week. There is hope in these pages, which is something those of us living on this warming planet need now more than ever.”
--Bart Elmore, professor of environmental history at The Ohio State University and author of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism and Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future
"Oh what a mess we've made. We are all villains in the story of Total Garbage, but Edward Humes's exhaustive reporting reveals that some among us—a genius trashologist in Georgia, a rebel farmer in Los Angeles, a small-town mayor in a golf cart—have become waste-fighting heroes, too. Read this book, and you'll know how to join their fight. You'll never look at a piece of plastic the same way."
--McKenzie Funk, journalist and author of Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming
“Waste has been normalized to the point that many of us hardly notice it, but Edward Humes argues that by confronting our waste, we can address our intertwined global crises. You'll be inspired by the ordinary people filling Total Garbage—young and not-so-young, rural and urban, red state and blue—using creativity and common sense to tackle waste in all its forms, and thus tackle the biggest challenges we face. I love this book!”
--Anne-Marie Bonneau, author of The Zero Waste Chef
“Every home with microplastics in the water from the tap, in the milk in the fridge, in the fruit on the counter -- that is to say, all of them -- should also have this book in it.”
--Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl and The Story of More
“Did you know that two thirds of all energy produced is wasted, or that a third of all food ends up in landfill? Staggering wastefulness is the root problem of our biggest global crises, Edward Humes argues. By reframing issues like climate change, plastic pollution and energy as waste problems, he finds a slew of hopeful solutions. Total Garbage will make you rethink how you live, shop, cook, eat and travel. It’s a keeper. And now I am shopping for a heat pump and an induction stove!”
--Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

In Total Garbage, Edward Humes talks trash about wastefulness, describing it as the underlying cause of the apparently disparate environmental crises that afflict the world. His diagnosis not only enables us to understand our predicaments more accurately but also empowers us to address them more effectively. Engagingly written and convincingly argued.”
--Glenn Branch, deputy director, National Center for Science Education

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593543368
ISBN-10: 059354336X
Publisher: Avery
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English