Author Archives: Robin Nagle

That which was left behind does not a discard make.

Only a thin and littered strip of beach shows at high tide. At first it seems an unremarkable slice of forgotten sand, nondescript, sloping gently down from the bank of shrubs and grasses and low trees that stands behind it. But countless shards of deep blue glass and rings of bone worn to the color […]
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‘Garbage’ measures human nature?

Prolific Canadian artist Max Liboiron has a new show at the AC Institute in New York through October 16. Called The New York Trash Exchange, it creates a tiny world from cast-offs, then invites viewers to take it away piece at a time — so long as they replace what they take with something of […]
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It started because of injuries. About fifty years ago, a group of municipal solid waste management folks — that is, the men and women in charge of publicly- organized garbage collection and street cleaning — were having a lunch meeting when one of them mentioned that sanitation workers under his supervision were getting hurt when […]
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“Chasing Sanitation”

It’s a website, it’s a book-in-progress, it’s an extraordinary work about the men and women of New York’s Department of Sanitation. Lisa Dowda and Liz Ligon have spent two years hanging with, interviewing, photographing, and learning the ways and lives of the men and women who pick up the Big Apple. The images and stories […]
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One of the best ever

Angelo Bruno was a sanitation worker with New York City’s Department of Sanitation for 31 years. He retired this past spring. He and his partner, Eddie Nieves, did a StoryCorps interview recently; this excellent excerpt was broadcast yesterday on NPR. I’m lucky enough to know both of them. Angelo was proud of his work and […]
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Collecting? or Hoarding?

    Collections of Nothing, a book by William Davies King, is part memoir, part philosophical rumination about the meaning of collecting. King looks at the legacy of a life spent amassing…junk? random bits of debris? worthless trash? and wonders what it says about himself as an individual and about humanness more generally. Plenty of […]
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“Waste Land”

It’s a film by Lucy Walker, who chronicled the work of Braziian artist Vic Muniz as he collaborated with “catadores,” or scavengers, on a landfill in Rio de Janeiro. “Waste Land” won’t have national release until October, but it deserves wide attention.

Around the world…

Waste and its permutations have attracted observers of many stripes — scholars, activists, artists, and more. This list is worth exploring to learn about some of the variety and color that our odd and world-wide habit of wasting has inspired.

Whither our e-dross?

I write this on a computer. When the computer is no longer in my life, where will it go? Without more rigorous e-waste recycling laws in the United States, it could find its way to this community in Ghana, profiled in a recent New York Times photo essay. The description that previews the photos mentions […]
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