Category Archives: Sanitation

Recycling Reconsidered: A must-read text for discard studies

If I could only recommend one text in discard studies, it would be Recycling Reconsidered by Samantha MacBride (2011, MIT Press).

Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

In 2013, India became the fourth country in the world (after Russia, the United States and the European Union) and the only emerging nation to launch a Mars probe into space. But it remains part of the group of 45 developing countries with less than 50% sanitation coverage, with many citizens practising open defecation, either due to lack of access to a toilet or because of personal preference.

Superbugs evolve in waste water, and could end up in our food

While the conversation on antibiotic resistance has started, one part of the story has not been highlighted. The risks to human and ecosystem health are strongly connected to poor water quality.

The Ocean Conservatory’s Call for Mass Incineration in Asia: Disposability for Profit, Fantasies of Containment, & Colonialism

The Ocean Conservatory would like to burn 80% of the waste in coastal Asia with US-made incinerators. According to a wide range of experts and grassroots organizations from around the world, that’s a problem.

New Article! The Politics of Open Defecation

This paper examines the politics of open defecation by focusing on everyday intersections of the body and infrastructure in the metabolic city, which produces profoundly unequal opportunities for fulfilling bodily needs. Specifically, it examines how open defecation emerges in Mumbai’s informal settlements through everyday embodied experiences, practices and perceptions forged in relation to the materialities of informality and infrastructure.

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.

Commissioner of NYC’s Department of Sanitation on Hurricane Sandy

The following is a statement by John Doherty, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, about the department’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

A Review of Infrapolitics: The Social Life of Water in Mumbai

This review of Nikhil Anand’s dissertation, Infrapolitics: The Social Life of Water in Mumbai, written by Tarini Bedi, will be of interest to discard studies scholars because of the methodological approach and how it highlights the politics of infrastructure.

Sanitation Workers: Hurricane Sandy’s First Responders

“We were the first ones there. And not only were we the first; we were the best. You know? We were the first responders in areas that nobody knew about– like I went to Sheepshead Bay and Arlene Avenue. It’s strange because if you’re driving up and down it, you wouldn’t notice them. But there were maybe a couple of dozen small houses. Nobody else knew they were down there. Our sanitation guys knew where every little nook and cranny was.”

Trash, debris, or neither? The Nature of Waste During Disaster

Not only do natural (and unnatural) disasters produce a lot of waste, they are also extreme but oddly quintessential events where practices, behavior, and cultures around waste and wasting, as well as their inverse–repairing, fixing, rebuilding–move to the fore. In the weeks proceeding and following the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in New York City and surrounding area, Discard Studies will feature a series of articles about the complexities of disaster and waste, broadly defined. This article looks at the material and emotional nature of waste during disaster.