Eamer proves that garbage can both be highly entertaining and serve as a backdrop to the human story.
This exploration of garbage—its creation and its destination—travels back in time to start at the beginning, to the creation of middens, and moves forward. The book is composed of short chapters that tackle such topics as city garbage and country garbage; plastic; wasted food; and a frankly fascinating chronicle of the disposal and/or reuse of human biological waste. Along the way, a welter of sidebars and brief biographies introduce such concepts as mudlarks (children who patrolled the 19th-century River Thames, which “was thick with garbage, raw sewage, and even rotting corpses,” in search of bits and bobs to sell) and disco rice: “the squirming maggots that thrive in many of [New York City’s] garbage dumpsters.” There is also much promise in these pages, inventive characters who came up with ideas that are helping quell the great trash-dumping problem, such as the invention of the blue recycle box, efforts to salvage the absurd waste of food, and a gent who has turned cigarette butts into stacking pallets. There are also handfuls of practical advice and a serious finger pointed at disposal’s greatest nemesis: plastic. It’s all populated by Edlund’s lightly cartoonish characters—gender-, race-, and species-rich—and landscapes.
A smart overall survey sprinkled with choice nuggets of garbage lore. Dig in. (Nonfiction. 9-12)