In Reclaiming the Discarded Kathleen M. Millar offers an evocative ethnography of Jardim Gramacho, a sprawling garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where roughly two thousand self-employed workers known as catadores collect recyclable materials. While the figure of the scavenger sifting through garbage seems iconic of wageless life today, Millar shows how the work of reclaiming recyclables is more than a survival strategy or an informal labor practice. Rather, the stories of catadores show how this work is inseparable from conceptions of the good life and from human struggles to realize these visions within precarious conditions of urban poverty. By approaching the work of catadores as highly generative, Millar calls into question the category of informality, common conceptions of garbage, and the continued normativity of wage labor. In so doing, she illuminates how waste lies at the heart of relations of inequality and projects of social transformation.
Resisting Garbage presents a new approach to understanding practices of waste removal and recycling in American cities, one that is grounded in the close observation of case studies while being broadly applicable to many American cities today.
Most current waste practices in the United States, Lily Baum Pollans argues, prioritize sanitation and efficiency while allowing limited post-consumer recycling as a way to quell consumers’ environmental anxiety. After setting out the contours of this “weak recycling waste regime,” Pollans zooms in on the very different waste management stories of Seattle and Boston over the last forty years. While Boston’s local politics resulted in a waste-export program with minimal recycling, Seattle created new frameworks for thinking about consumption, disposal, and the roles that local governments and ordinary people can play as partners in a project of resource stewardship. By exploring how these two approaches have played out at the national level, Resisting Garbage provides new avenues for evaluating municipal action and fostering practices that will create environmentally meaningful change.
The earnest warnings of an impending "solid waste crisis" that permeated the 1980s provided the impetus for the widespread adoption of municipal recycling programs. Since that time America has witnessed a remarkable rise in public participation in recycling activities, including curbside collection, drop-off centers, and commercial and office programs. Recently, however, a backlash against these programs has developed. A vocal group of "anti-recyclers" has appeared, arguing that recycling is not an economically efficient strategy for addressing waste management problems.In Why Do We Recycle? Frank Ackerman examines the arguments for and against recycling, focusing on the debate surrounding the use of economic mechanisms to determine the value of recycling. Based on previously unpublished research conducted by the Tellus Institute, a nonprofit environmental research group in Boston, Massachusetts, Ackerman presents an alternative view of the theory of market incentives, challenging the notion that setting appropriate prices and allowing unfettered competition will result in the most efficient level of recycling. Among the topics he considers are: externality issues -- unit pricing for waste disposal, effluent taxes, virgin materials subsidies, advance disposal fees the landfill crisis and disposal facility siting container deposit ("bottle bill") legislation environmental issues that fall outside of market theory calculating costs and benefits of municipal recycling programs life-cycle analysis and packaging policy -- Germany's "Green Dot" packaging system and producer responsibility the impacts of production in extractive and manufacturing industries composting and organic waste management economics of conservation, and material use and long-term sustainability Ackerman explains why purely economic approaches to recycling are incomplete and argues for a different kind of decisionmaking, one that addresses social issues, future as well as present resource needs, and non-economic values that cannot be translated into dollars and cents.Backed by empirical data and replete with specific examples, the book offers valuable guidance for municipal planners, environmental managers, and policymakers responsible for establishing and implementing recycling programs. It is also an accessible introduction to the subject for faculty, students, and concerned citizens interested in the social, economic, and ethical underpinnings of recycling efforts.