‘Garbology’ book selected as 2014-15 common reading

Garbology-100By Beverly Makhani, Office of Undergraduate Education

PULLMAN, Wash. – Americans each produce 102 tons of trash in a lifetime. Impacts and implications of “the invisible waste embedded in America’s consumer society” are discussed in the common reading book that will be used 2014-15 at Washington State University Pullman.

“Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and non-fiction author Edward Humes, was selected by Daniel J. Bernardo, interim WSU provost and executive vice president, from among four finalists put forth by committee.

Humes has published 12 books on subjects ranging from murder and crime to the juvenile justice system to the environment – which is, he says, “the most important story of our age for ourselves and for our children.”

“I believe the questions and critical thinking that this book will inspire will lead to countless important and fact-based conversations among students, faculty, staff and the community,” Bernardo said.

“The range of topics raised by ‘Garbology’ will lead to meaningful activities with program partners such as Residence Life, Dining Services, Facility Operations and WSU’s excellent research initiatives involving sustainability,” said Karen Weathermon, co-director of the common reading program. “There are many ways one can imagine this book having an impact on actual behaviors and policies here.”

Water, habits, internment topics considered

The provost also considered: “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” by Charles Fishman; “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg, and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” by Jamie Ford.

“The committee thanks everyone who suggested a book, and our members read and evaluated all of the excellent books that were nominated,” said Susan Poch, co-director of the common reading program. “The committee is very pleased with this selection.”

Visit http://CommonReading.wsu.edu for information about the program, speakers, events and book nominations and to learn about previous WSU common reading books and the programming around them.

Military coverage earns Pulitzer

In “Garbology,” Humes writes that each American produces seven pounds of trash per day on the way to 102 tons over a lifetime. That’s twice as much per person as in 1960. He considers: Where does the trash go? What are the sociological, environmental and economic impacts? Where might solutions come from – individuals, communities, businesses?

He received a 1989 Pulitzer Prize in the “specialized reporting” journalism category for in-depth coverage of the military establishment in southern California; it appeared in the Orange County Register. A Philadelphia native, he graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and moved to California in 1985.



Susan Poch and Karen Weathermon, WSU common reading, 509-335-7767, poch@wsu.edu, kweathermon@wsu.edu

Beverly Makhani, communications director, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679, makhani@wsu.edu