New Articles: The moral economies of recycling in England and Sweden & Compost, domestic practice, and the transformation of alternative toilet cultures around Skaneateles Lake, NY

There are two new waste-related articles in the latest issue of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Abstracts for both articles are below.

Nice save: the moral economies of recycling in England and Sweden
Kathryn Wheeler
Abstract. My aim in this paper is to develop the concept of moral economy by exploring how moral principles intertwine and interact with forms of economic organisation. Through applying a holistic moral-economy framework, this paper explores institutional variations in the moral economies of recycling, paying attention to those lay normativities that shape consumers’ everyday interactions with their waste. The starting point for this paper comes from the observation that moral messages used to promote recycling differ between Sweden and England. In Sweden the protection and stewardship of the natural environment are key tropes, whereas in England recycling is promoted as an action that saves the environment and public money. I show that the content of these moral messages is closely related to the system of recycling provision within a country, together shaping nationally distinct moral economies of recycling.
Keywords: moral economy, recycling, waste
Note: A moral economy, in one interpretation, is an economy that is based on goodness, fairness, and justice.

Waste matters: compost, domestic practice, and the transformation of alternative toilet cultures around Skaneateles Lake, New York
Mike Dimpfl, Sharon Moran
Abstract. The Skaneateles Lake Watershed Composting Toilet Project highlights the material and sociocultural challenges of developing new kinds of embodied practices that effectively utilize alternatives to traditional water-dependent plumbing. Practical, small-scale innovation is important to addressing the human dimensions of these changes, particularly given the widely held taboos informing discussion of what happens behind closed bathroom doors. In this example an innovative watershed policy placed composting toilets in seventy-five lakeside homes to prevent household blackwater from polluting an unfiltered drinking water source utilized by 250 000 people. Interviews with key informants and participating households illustrate the ways in which expectations of toileting practice sit in tension with the need to preserve the health of the local watershed, particularly over the long term. Understanding shifts in toileting practice must move past functional assessments of new or untested technology, taking into account sociocultural understandings of private, deeply embodied, yet resolutely pragmatic daily habits. As individuals seek to normalize new toilet technology as a part of daily routines, they encounter the body’s materiality in ways that conflict with expectations of what belongs inside the home. In this case, the traditionally excluded effluence of the human body remains too close for comfort, forcing a renegotiation of the common boundary-making habits defining domestic space. The result is a shift in expectations about what of the body can or should belong in the home.
Keywords: composting toilet, boundary making, domestic space, everyday practice, material geography, blackwater