One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

By Laura Notton, Assistant Editor, SAGE Reference

Garbage is big business, consumption spans centuries, waste is inevitable.  And SAGE Reference is embracing it. This look at trash has turned into an encyclopedic treasure.

For centuries, archaeologists and anthropologists have considered ancient artifacts of refuse as windows into the culture and lives of past civilizations.  But what does our trash say about our society today?  SAGE’s new Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage approaches trash from a scholarly perspective, and seeks value in the items we find most worthless in an effort to provide insight into and analyze our lives, social structures, behavior, and regard for our environment.

The encyclopedia covers such basic topics as junk mail, dumpster diving, and recycling, to graver issues as acid rain, pesticides, and radioactive waste disposal.  Further exploring the scope and depth of the field, the encyclopedia also examines consumption and waste across space and time with a comprehensive chronology as well as historical entries looking at early stone tools and food remains of the ancient world to present day landfills and stream pollution, and the Sierra Club’s crusade to protect the environment.  The Work also contains entries examining how specific countries view and handle waste, from the U.S., to the Netherlands, to Japan.

The encyclopedia is edited by two distinguished scholars in the field.  General Editor, Carl A. Zimring, assistant professor of social science at Roosevelt University, co-founded the school’s sustainability studies program in 2010 and serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Recycling Coalition.   Consulting Editor, William L. Rathje, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona and consulting professor at Stanford University, is the founder and director of the Garbage Project which conducts archaeological studies of modern refuse. A copy of Professor Rathje’s manuscript Garbology 101 is included as an Appendix to highlight the academic documentation of consumption and waste.

This encyclopedia just published last month, so check it out.

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