Comment 51317

By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted November 10, 2010 at 11:04:34

I just read "Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage" by William Rathje and Cullen Murphy, and I will never be the same:

It is a bit out of date (early 90's) but it contains some fascinating analyses of landfill sites and strata of garbage going back decades. I was amazed to hear their finding that 40% of landfills are filled with building materials like drywall and lumber, and newspaper. Only about 12% total consists of plastic and diapers. And another thing I didn't realize that the book explained very well was how biodegradable things don't biodegrade in a landfill, because of the lack of oxygen needed for that process. They report finding fresh grass clippings from the 50's and nearly intact newspapers from every year. Their findings about nail polish bottles were quite startling too - seems like a small thing to toss an old bottle of nail polish, but multiplied by millions, they (and batteries) comprise a significant amount of hazardous waste in any landfill. Required reading. I could not put it down!

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