People tend to think that we are familiar with waste because we deal with it every day. Yet, this is not the case. Discard studies is central to thinking through and countering the initiative aspects of waste. As more popular, policy, activist, engineering and research attention is drawn to waste it becomes crucial for the humanities and social sciences to contextualize the problems, materialities and systems of waste that are not readily apparent to the invested but casual observer. Our task is to trouble the assumptions, premises and popular mythologies of waste so that work can go in a productive direction.
Waste advocacy and popular environmentalism suffer from a constant mismatch of scales. Problems are at one scale, and solutions are at another. This article calls for shift in cultural discourses that include proportion and scale so that information, problem identification, and proposed solutions are able to intervene into problems in meaningful and effective ways.
Despite San Francisco’s 80% diversion rate, the average person sends about 2.7 pounds per day to landfills. On a per person basis, it would seem that record-setting San Franciscans send roughly the same quantities to the dump as their friends in other places in the US. Samantha MacBride explains the logics behind these statistics.
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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