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The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers – Summary – BBS 1st Year Notes

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 “The Hidden Life of Garbage” discusses waste disposal in the U.S. And how dangerous it’s getting. Land dumping has been the primary disposal method for many years because of the low cost. Land dumping is when the waste is dumped into a landfill. A landfill is a carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground in which trash is isolated from the surrounding environment. This isolation is accomplished with a bottom liner and daily covering of soil.

A sanitary landfill uses a clay liner to isolate the trash from the environment. Although the methods of waste disposal have improved over time, getting rid of garbage is quickly becoming a big problem because our methods of waste disposal are only a temporary solution. The waste that cannot decompose naturally just sits there and begins to build up. Incineration is another method used in waste disposal; however, this poses another problem because it fills the air we breathe with dense smoke, which is toxic to our environment.



The composition also talks about how the major waste disposal corporations try to keep the problem hidden from the general public. They keep it hidden because it would cause problems for the corporation if the people actually knew what was happening.” If people saw what happened to their waste, lived with the stench, witnessed the scale of destruction, they might start asking difficult questions” (Rogers 189)

Garbage, trash, waste, rubble, junk, whatever you may call it, we all have it. The average American produces about 4.5 pounds of it every day. The United States makes more garbage than any other country on the planet. We have 5% of the people on Earth, but make almost 1/3 of the entire world’s garbage. It’s not a pretty subject and it’s a topic which most people tend to avoid.



Once it’s out their door and into their trash cans, people could care less. I fully agree with Heather Rogers, if people actually saw where their waste is going and how it is affecting our environment, they would probably be horrified. Even with the improvements we’ve made, the waste disposal methods aren’t enough. “The more state-of-the-art, the more ‘environmentally responsible ‘the operation, the more repressed question pushes to the surface: what if we didn’t have so much trash to get rid of?” (Rogers 191).

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Personally, I have always been a big advocate of recycling and repurposing. Through my volunteer work, I saw firsthand what our large amount of waste is doing to our planet and decided to make a change. Plastic is the biggest contributor to the amount of waste we have because it takes about 500 years to decompose in a landfill. For this reason, I always try to use a refillable canteen (BPA free) instead of plastic water bottles, and I don’t use paper plates, cups, or utensils.

I also try to use fabric grocery bags instead of plastic ones. By making little changes such as these, our waste output would drastically lessen, and reduce the number of toxins in our environment. I also think that everyone should read Heather Rogers’ “The Hidden Life of Garbage” to help people become aware of this problem and encourage them to make a change.



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  1. Pooja karki

    Thanks for this 😊