2014-15: Garbology

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash

The Author

Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and non-fiction writer.

Humes was born in Philadelphia and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In 1989 he received the Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting for investigative stories he wrote about the United States military for the Orange County Register. Afterward, he began writing non-fiction books.

Humes is the author of 13 nonfiction books, including the bestselling “Mississippi Mud”; “No Matter How Loud I Shout”; “Baby E.R.”; “A Man and His Mountain”; and “Garbology,” a popular selection for the First Year Experience program on college campuses.

In 2001, Humes spent a year teaching a writing workshop at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California, a middle-class Los Angeles suburb. His observations while at the school led to his narrative non-fiction book School of Dreams, published in 2004.

Humes is a contributing writer for Sierra Magazine, California Lawyer and Los Angeles magazine, among other publications. He is married to journalist and author Donna Wares and lives in Southern California.

The Book

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes readers on a surprising tour of America’s biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash.

The average American produces 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime and $50 billion in squandered riches are rolled to the curb each year. But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century.

In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists residing in San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.

Garbology is raising awareness of trash consumption and is sparking community-wide action through One City One Book programs around the country.

WSU used Garbology in several first-year and other classes as a way for students from a variety of disciplines to interact academically.  Buy the book or a digital copy today!

Calendar for 2014-15 Garbology-related events

Ongoing Events

Service Learning Opportunities

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is partnering with the Common Reading Program to offer a number of weekly service-learning opportunities for students Each occurrence of which will count both for service hours (for students who need them for various organizations and programs) and for Common Reading (stamp available). Have an active role in your community and engage directly with issues of waste and sustainability. CCE will provide transportation to each of these. Sign up in advance to participate. Follow the links for more information and to register:

Bicycle Restoration, every Tuesday, 3:30 pm–6:30 pm (2 hrs service)

Palouse Clearwater Habitat Restoration, every Thursday, 2:30-5:00 pm (2 hrs service)
Recycling Outreach Campus to Community, Harvest House, Mondays and Fridays, 10:45 am – 1:30 pm (3 hrs service)
Boost Collaborative, Clothing Sorting, every Thursday, 2:30-5:00 pm (2 hrs service)

Fall 2014 Events

August 2014
  • WOW Carnival: Upcycling Craft Project—Bookmarks

    Tuesday, August 19, 5-8 pm, CUB mall

September 2014
  • Ken Faunce (History)

    One Person’s Trash is Another’s Treasure: Historical Archaeology and the Study of Garbage.
    7:00 p.m., September 2, CUE 203
    What people use and leave behind can provide a wealth of information to archaeologists. As demonstrated in Garbology, trash can provide us a window into our past. We can learn about people’s habits, behavior, beliefs, and lifestyles. Historical Archaeology uses what people leave behind to better understand groups of the past as well as ourselves today.

  • Terrell Library Atrium Display Case: “Garbology at WSU”

    September 15-October 12
    Visit the atrium display case sponsored by WSU Waste Management

  • Walter Echo-Hawk (Visiting Speaker)

    The need for an American Land Ethic: Indigenous Values and Environmental Rights
    4:30 p.m., September 17, Kimbrough 101
    Echo-Hawk, a Native American attorney, tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor will speak on indigenous views of the environment. Echo-Hawk represents Indian tribes on important legal issues such as treaty and water rights, religious freedom, prisoner rights, and repatriation rights. His career spans the pivotal years when Indian tribes reclaimed their land, sovereignty, and pride in a stride toward freedom. This event is cosponsored by the Plateau Center for Native American Programs and the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service.

  • A Panel Discussion on “Poison Everywhere: The Ethics, Law, and Policy Regulation of Environmental Toxicants”

    Wednesday, September 24, 4 pm-5:30 pm, Bryan 305
    Researchers have shown that many products to which we are regularly exposed contain substances that are harmful to our health and that of our offspring. What are the ethical concerns, and what kinds of policies will most effectively protect us against harm from environmental toxicants? These topics will be discussed by Carl Cranor (University of California, Riverside), Raoul Lievanos (WSU Dept. of Sociology), and Michael Skinner (WSU School of Biological Sciences). This event is sponsored by the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Terrell Library Atrium Display Case: “Garbology at WSU”

    September 15-October 12
    Visit the atrium display case sponsored by WSU Waste Management

  • Nick Hanauer (Visiting Speaker)

    Saving American Capitalism: The Truth about Jobs, Prosperity, and Economic Growth
    Thursday, October 2, 2:00 p.m. CUB Auditorium
    In addition to being a Seattle business owner, economics advisor, and one of the Northwest’s most ardent advocates for income equality, Nick Hanauer is an author who addresses issues of poverty and the economics of environmental degradation, most notably in his book The Gardens of Democracy (2011). He also is involved with the Cascade Land Conservancy that has been recognized for its neighborhood waste reduction program award system. Hanauer’s perspective on capitalism offers another critique of the consumerist society (on a local, national, and global scale) that underlies the issues of waste. This talk, the 2014 Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Lecture, is sponsored by WSU’s Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Devon Peña (Visiting Speaker, Anthropology, University of Washington)

    Garbage in, Garbage out: An Environmental Justice Critique of Recycling and Other Forms of Green Consumerism
    Thursday October 2, 5:45 p.m. CUE 203
    A lifelong activist in the environmental justice and resilient agriculture movements, Devon Peña is a professor of American ethnic studies, anthropology, and environmental studies at the University of Washington. He also works on his family’s historic acequia farm in San Acacio, Colorado. A pioneering interdisciplinary research scholar and widely-cited author, his recent books include Mexican Americans and the Environment (2005) and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States (senior editor, 2005). Dr. Peña is the founder and president of the Acequia Institute, the nation’s first Latina/o charitable foundation dedicated to supporting research and education for the environmental and food justice movements. Sponsored by Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies with support from many other WSU units. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Garbology Author Edward Humes Lecture with book signing to follow

    7:00 p.m., October 7, CUB Senior Ballroom
    Free and open to the public. Edward Humes’ campus visit is cosponsored by Global Campus and ASWSU.

  • Garbology in the Halls

    Saturday, October 11 – Smith Gym
    Events for students living in Northside (9-11 a.m.)
    Events for students in Regents & Stimson (11:30-1:30 p.m.)
    Events for students in Streit-Perham (2-4 p.m.)

    Saturday, October 18 – Stephenson Down Under
    Events for students living in Gannon-Goldsworthy (8:30-10:30 a.m.)
    Events for students living in Community-Duncan Dunn, McCroskey, and Honors (11-1 p.m.)
    Events for students living in Wilmer-Davis and Waller (1:30-3:30 p.m.)
    Events for students living in Olympia & Scott-Coman(4-6 p.m.)

    Students participating in this activity will collect their trash for one week and then work in small groups to examine what we, as a campus, throw away. Using the methods of the field of Garbology, described in chapter 8 of Humes’s book, students will make a record of what is in the trash as well as be part of a discussion about what our trash conveys about who we are and about our sustainability practices.

  • Brenda Hillman (Visiting Writer and Environmental Poet)

    Monday, October 20, 5 pm, Fine Arts Museum
    One of contemporary poetry’s most eclectic and innovative writers, Brenda Hillman’s poetry investigates and pushes at the possibilities of form and voice, while remaining grounded in topics such as geology, the environment, politics, family and spirituality. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Hillman earned degrees at Pomona College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is a professor of creative writing at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. She has authored over ten books of poetry, work that has been recognized with numerous fellowships and awards. Her WSU visit is sponsored by the Department of English. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Bug Appétit with Laura Lavine (Entomology)

    Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Ensminger Pavillion
    What do insects have to do with garbage? Insects use “garbage” as food. Insects provide valuable ecosystem services to all life on earth through their use of dead, decaying, and rotting organic materials. They epitomize the “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan!
    Entomology in collaboration with WSU Chef Jamie Callison, Paradise Creek Brewery & the Food Science Club present Bug Appétit in the Ensminger Pavilion. Come enjoy great food, insects, information and beer for Dad’s Weekend before the game. All ages welcomed. Admission is free, proceeds from beer and food sales to benefit the Whitman County Humane Society. Get your bug questions answered by experts! Contact Laura Lavine for more information at lavine@wsu.edu. Common Reading stamp available.

  • The Clean Bin Project Movie screening and discussion

    Tuesday, Oct 28, 7 p.m., Todd Auditorium (Todd 116)
    As the WSU campus gears up for its “One Thing Challenge,’ come hear the story of a couple from Vancouver, BC, who sought to carry out a challenge for a whole year: who could go a full year without purchasing any new “stuff” (besides food) and could produce the least amount of trash. The humorous and thought-provoking saga of their year’s adventure in rethinking waste might just give you an idea of what you would like your “One Thing” to be.

  • Screening of Greenlit documentary

    Tuesday, November 4, 7 pm, Heald G3
    Movie people are legendarily liberal and left-leaning, particularly when it comes to the environment. Greenlit puts their commitment to the test as filmmaker Miranda Bailey (executive producer of The Squid and the Whale) follows the production of The River Why, as it attempts to keep an environmentally friendly set thanks to the supervision of a “green” consultant. What starts off with great enthusiasm quickly devolves into something more challenging and insightful in this 2009 documentary. For more information, see http://greenlit.org . Common Reading stamp available.

  • Garbology in the Halls – REVISED TIMES

    Saturday, November 8 – Stephenson Down Under
    Events for students living in Stephenson North (9:00-10:30 a.m.)
    Events for students in Stephenson South (11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)
    Events for students in Stephenson East (1:00-2:30 p.m.)
    Events for students in Rogers (3-4:30 p.m.)

    Students participating in this activity will collect their trash for one week and then work in small groups to examine what we, as a campus, throw away. Using the methods of the field of Garbology, described in chapter 8 of Humes’s book, students will make a record of what is in the trash as well as be part of a discussion about what our trash conveys about who we are and about our sustainability practices.

  • Campus Event: “One Thing Challenge”

    November 12-24

    Each November for the past several years, students living in WSU’s residence halls have challenged their counterparts in UW residence halls in a “One Thing” challenge: which campus has up the most residents who commit to change one habit for two weeks in an effort to add to environmental sustainability. This year, the entire WSU campus—students, faculty, staff, departments, campus groups and units—will have an opportunity to take on this challenge. What will yours be? And how sustainable is this as a practice for you to continue beyond the two weeks?

  • Waste Land Movie screening and discussion

    Wednesday, November 19, 7 p.m., Heald G3
    Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Common Reading Stamp available.

  • Bill Kabasenche (Philosophy) and Environmental Ethics Students (Phil 370)

    Waste on the Palouse: A State of the Bioregion Health Report
    Tuesday, December 2, 7 p.m., Todd 116

    Where does that bottle, or leftover food, or old laptop go when you dispose of it at WSU? Our trash is out of sight, but should it be out of mind? Or, should we consider the impact on the land that makes up the Palouse and the people who live there of our waste disposal? What are the ethical issues we should think about in disposing of our waste. This event will include a presentation on these issues by students in PHIL 370 Environmental Ethics and some reflections by Dr. Bill Kabasenche (School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs), who teaches the course.

Spring 2015 Events

We will again have a full schedule of lectures and other events offered in spring.  Some are on the calendar below and others will be added as soon as the details are set. Already in place are lectures on ephemera and archives, the effects of plastics on human health, environmental racism, and the challenges of waste in the food industry.  We also will be collaborating with a WSU Performing Arts music concert, a WSU Visiting Writers reading by environmental writers, and an Earth Week speaker sponsored by the ASWSU Environmental Sustainability Alliance and the Environmental Science Club.  Also in the planning stages are a talk by Seattle artist Chris Jordan, a panel from the Department of Energy on Hanford’s waste issues, a couple of documentaries, and possible events by about trends and research in design and materials that address waste.  In other words, it should be a full and interesting semester, and I encourage you to consider using the book again (or for the first time) this spring!  To see more about these events as they are set, visit this page often!—Karen Weathermon, Common Reading Co-Director

  • Trevor Bond (WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in WSU Libraries)

    Ephemera: Yesterday’s Trash, Today’s Archive
    Tuesday, January 20, 7 p.m., CUE 203

    Historian and Rare Books Librarian Trevor Bond will talk about the stories we can find in ephemera—printed items that were supposed to be thrown away but weren’t—such as receipts, flyers, ticket stubs, menus, programs, lists, and junk mail. As most printed ephemera from the past and from the present are not saved, what does remain can reveal facets of everyday life that are not otherwise documented. This talk will show how trash can illuminate understanding of a time period in ways not always visible in the official documents that were intended to be preserved. This talk will reflect on an exhibit on ephemera that opened at MASC in the Terrell Library in late fall and continues through early spring. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Archives Display: “Ephemera: Yesterday’s Trash, Today’s Archive”

    Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), Holland/Terrell Library
    Opening Reception: Thursday, January 22 3:00-4:30 p.m. Exhibit runs through early March

    Ephemera tell stories about the items’ original owner, their everyday life, and he era in which they lived. The word refers to items that were supposed to be thrown away but weren’t—for example, ticket stubs, handwritten lists, junk mail, used boarding passes, and vacation brochures. It can be current slips tossed into a to-do box in the kitchen, or century-old love notes between grandparents as yet undiscovered in a box from their estate sale. This artistic MASC exhibit features thousands of items from MASC collections—1932 tickets to a Greek museum found in a book donated from the Library of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, a grocery receipt, kitschy Valentine’s Day cards from the 1950s, a 1903 totem pole-shaped lunch menu from the S.S. Spokane cruise liner headed to Alaska, chewing gum wrappers, WSU event flyers, and walls and showcases more. MASC is open Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30. (Verification of attendance will be available at the front desk of MASC throughout the exhibit.)

  • Bag It Movie Screening

    Tuesday, January 27, 7 – 8:30 p.m., CUE 203

    Is your life too plastic? An average American guy, Jeb Berrier, who is admittedly not a “tree hugger,” makes a pledge to stop using plastic bags. This simple action gets him thinking about all kinds of plastic. Berrier embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world. As Jeb’s journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up to us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now. (78 minutes)  Common Reading stamp available.

  • Patricia Hunt (Meyer Distinguished Professor, School or Molecular Bioscience)

    Are We Trashing Our Reproductive Health?
    Tuesday, February 3, 7 p.m., CUE 203

    Our disposable society generates in tons of plastic trash that pollutes our oceans, fills our landfills, and litters our daily environment. It’s more than just a garbage problem – it’s a health hazard. Dr. Hunt will explore the evidence that the chemicals that migrate out of plastics are impacting the reproductive health of humans and other species. Are chemical exposures affecting sperm counts? Egg development? The behavior of our children? Important research is going on right here on the WSU campus. Let’s talk about what we know and the questions and concerns that face these researchers! Common Reading stamp available.

  • Music Presentation: Rani Arbo and Daisy Mahem in Concert

    February 6, 7:30 pm, Jones Theatre

    Embracing rootsy genres ranging from gospel to swing and from ballad to barn-burner, this charismatic ensemble has been called by the Boston Herald “one of America’s most inventive string bands.” This inventiveness extends to their instruments, with percussion comprised entirely of repurposed junk. This concert is free to WSU students and is presented by the WSU Performing Arts with support from the Pullman Regional Hospital, the Washington State Arts Commission, The Western States Arts Federation, and Art Works. Common Reading stamp available. 
    For more information and YouTube clip, see this Concert Series article.

  • Jeff Joireman (Carson College of Business)

    Environmental Problems as Social Dilemmas: Social, Temporal, and Biospheric Dimensions
    Wednesday, February 18, 2 pm, ETRL 101

    Many environmental problems can be framed as social dilemmas. The classic social dilemma model for environmental problems has been based on Garret Hardin’s (1968) “Tragedy of the Commons.” This social dilemma frames environmental problems as a “social conflict” between self-interest and collective interests. Subsequent conceptualizations have emphasized that many real-world social dilemmas involve additional “temporal” and “biospheric” conflicts. From this view, environmental social dilemmas can be framed as situations in which short-term self-interests of humans are at odds with the long-term interests of society and the biosphere. This talk will review the concept of environmental social dilemmas, and review research focusing largely on how environmental decisions are shaped by temporal concerns (e.g., individual differences in consideration of present vs. future consequences). This event is sponsored by CEREO, WSU’s Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Trashed Movie screening

    Thursday, February 19, 7 p.m., Webster 16

    Trashed” is a provocative investigation of one of the fastest growing industries in North America. The garbage business. The film examines a fundamental element of modern American culture…the disposal of what our society defines as “waste.” It is an issue influenced by every American, most of whom never consider the consequences. Nor, it seems, the implications to our biosphere. “Trashed” examines the American waste stream fast approaching a half billion tons annually. The film analyzes the causes and effects of the seemingly innocuous act of “taking out the garbage” while showcasing the individuals, activists,corporate and advocacy groups working to affect change and reform the current model. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Chris Jordan (Visiting Artist, Running the Numbers, In Katrina’s Wake, Intolerable Beauty, and Midway, Messages from the Gyre)

    Encountering Midway: A Barometer for Our Culture and Our World
    Thursday, February 26 7 p.m., CUB Auditorium

    Renowned Seattle environmental- and eco-artist Chris Jordan’s photography and digital imagery create strong and often-startling visuals that sometimes stretch along walls. His portfolio includes visual mosaics of tens of thousands of photos composed to make a single statement. Other photos are singular and straightforward—of subjects such as African tribal leaders working with NGOs to create a more sustainable environment, or the wind-blown remains of Midway Island albatross chicks who died—literally—from trash. Jordan writes of his Midway Series, “These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.” Chris Jordan’s visit is co-sponsored by the SEB Arts Committee; more on Jordan’s work can be found at chrisjordan.com. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Archives Display: “Ephemera: Yesterday’s Trash, Today’s Archive”

    Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), Holland/Terrell Library
    Exhibit runs through early March. MASC is open Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30.

    Ephemera tell stories about the items’ original owner, their everyday life, and he era in which they lived. The word refers to items that were supposed to be thrown away but weren’t—for example, ticket stubs, handwritten lists, junk mail, used boarding passes, and vacation brochures. It can be current slips tossed into a to-do box in the kitchen, or century-old love notes between grandparents as yet undiscovered in a box from their estate sale. This artistic MASC exhibit features thousands of items from MASC collections—1932 tickets to a Greek museum found in a book donated from the Library of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, a grocery receipt, kitschy Valentine’s Day cards from the 1950s, a 1903 totem pole-shaped lunch menu from the S.S. Spokane cruise liner headed to Alaska, chewing gum wrappers, WSU event flyers, and walls and showcases more. Verification of attendance will be available at the front desk of MASC throughout the exhibit.

  • Gary Petersen (Tri City Development Council)

    Hanford’s Waste Issues and Challenges
    Thursday, March 5, 4:00 pm, CUE 203

    While Edward Humes does not discuss nuclear waste, the legacy of nuclear waste at Hanford is our state’s most serious waste issue. Situated along the Columbia River, Hanford produced the plutonium used in the Manhattan Project during WWII and into the Cold War period that followed. Sixty years later, Hanford is the nation’s most contaminated site, with 60% of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste; it is also the focus of the nation’s largest environmental clean-up with particular focus on the fate and safety of the storage tanks buried at the site. WSU alumnus Gary Petersen has a long history of work in our state’s nuclear programs, including his position the Director of Communication and Administration at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and his work with the U.S. State Department’s Soviet nuclear safety program. In his current position as Vice President of Federal Programs for the Tri City Development Council, Mr. Petersen works with PNNL, the Department of Energy, Hanford contractors, and the Congress to firm up federal funding for cleaning up the Hanford site. His presentation will cover some of the history, challenges, and future of this very important waste site. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge: The Road to Zero Waste

    Men’s Basketball WSU vs. Colorado – Volunteers Needed!
    Saturday, March 7, 2:30-6:30, Beasley Coliseum

    WSU Waste Management and Cougar Athletics are seeking student volunteers to help run WSU’s first-ever zero-waste athletic event at the men’s basketball game vs Colorado. This will be WSU’s entry in a Pac-12 competition sponsored by the Green Sports Alliance. Volunteers will help direct/inform fans regarding the appropriate receptacle for their waste as well as assist with other tasks related to the challenge. In return, volunteers will receive a comp ticket to the game and a Common Reading Stamp. There is a limit to the number of students who can participate in this activity, with students being accepted on a first come basis. Those interested in volunteering should email Jason Sampson at sampsonj@wsu.edu to get themselves on the list.

  • Jenne Schmidt (Diversity Education)

    Connecting Waste and Race: Building an Environmental Justice Movement Out of Garbage
    Tuesday, March 10, 7:00 pm, CUE 203

    Using Garbology as a common foundation, this interactive workshop will introduce the concept of environmental racism, focusing particularly on issues facing the Pacific Northwest. This workshop will incorporate diversity and social inequality into the environmentalism discussion by exploring how environmental justice extends beyond just plants and furry animals, and has real implications for marginalized communities.Common Reading stamp available.

  • Roger Fernandes, Native American Storyteller

    Wednesday, March 11, 7 pm, Bryan 305

    Roger Fernandes, from the Lower Elwha Band of S’Klallam Indians, is a storyteller and artist. As a storyteller, he shares the myths and legends of tribes across the region and looks at the teachings within those stories that are intended to guide and inform listeners on their life journey. Among the stories he’ll be sharing on the WSU campus will be some focused on the environment and human responsibility for cleaning up waste. This event is hosted by the WSU Native American Programs.Common Reading stamp available.

  • Karl Englund (Composite Materials and Engineering Center)

    Engineering New Products from Old Material
    Tuesday, March 24, 7 p.m., Webster 16

    Do you ever wonder where that plastic bottle goes to after you put it in the recycling bin? What about all the other materials we throw away, can’t they be recycled? These are questions that drive the research of Karl Englund, Associate Research Professor at WSU’s Composite Materials and Engineering Center. Karl will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with closing the recycling loop, where we turn the materials we discard into useful products. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Visiting Writers Allison Cobb and Robert Michael Pyle (Environmental Writers and guests of the WSU Visiting Writers Series)

    Tuesday, March 31, time and place TBA

    Eco-readers Allison Cobb and Michael Pyle will each give a short reading from their work before engaging in discussion around some of the themes of Garbology and writing about the environment. Pyle is an environmental writer as well as a field biologist specializing in butterflies who has written over 30 books in addition to being a long-time columnist for Orion Magazine. Cobb is an environmental author whose work has been recognized with fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as the Oregon Arts Commission. She also works for the Environmental Defense Fund. This reading, sponsored by the Department of English, will conclude with a reception and book signing. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Visiting Writers Allison Cobb (Environmental Writer and guest of the WSU Visiting Writers Series)

    Thursday, April 2, 3-4 pm, Reaney Park: Hands-On Garbology: A Plastic Walk led by Allison Cobb

    How long do plastics live and what shapes do their lives take, here in Pullman, and across the globe? You’ll be surprised with what you discover in this hand’s on event. Get outdoors and learn about trends and impacts of plastics in the environment while helping clean up Pullman’s Reaney Park. Visiting writer and eco-poet Allison Cobb will lead the walk and share her insights from over two years of fieldwork tracking the reappearance and morphing of plastic in the environment; Professors Jolie Kaytes (Associate Professor and Head of the Landscape Architecture Program) and Karl Englund (Associate Research Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering) will also share insights from their fields of study. Free, open to the public, all ages welcomed. Participants should bring a small bag to collect garbage. Sponsored by the Department of English, CEREO (Center for Environmental Research, Education, & Outreach), and the City of Pullman Parks & Recreation. Contact Linda Russo for more information at lrusso@wsu.edu. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Global Case Competition: Global Plastic Waste

    Friday, April 10, 3-5 pm, Todd 216
    Concerns about marine plastic debris and microplastics, exposure to toxic chemicals associated with plastics, waste management and landfill space, and litter as an eyesore and harmful substance for both marine and land-based wildlife, have become topics of discussion by the United Nations and the European Union in addition to the US Environmental Protection Agency. All agree that the widespread use of plastics demands a holistic approach to waste management. This year’s Global Case Competition has asked student teams to imagine themselves as a non-governmental organization in Brazil charged with addressing issues of plastic waste. Each team of 4-6 students has been asked for recommendations for “best practices” regarding one type of plastic waste to be implemented in the community of Manaus, Brazil. Student teams are very diverse, composed of students from multiple WSU colleges and campuses, with a mix of undergraduates and graduate students whose backgrounds are both domestic and international. Come see the final five teams make their presentations and find out which team will be awarded a trip to Brazil to see the issues and meet those addressing them firsthand. An award ceremony and catered reception will begin at 5 pm. Event and competition sponsored by WSU International Programs. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Surviving Progress Movie Screening

    Saturday, April 11, 1:00-3:00 pm, CUE 203

    Humanity’s ascent is often measured by the speed of progress. But what if progress is actually spiralling us downwards, toward collapse? Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, A Short History Of Progress inspired this documentary, shows how past civilizations were destroyed by “progress traps”–alluring technologies and belief systems that serve immediate needs, but that ransom the future. As pressure on the world’s resources accelerates and financial elites bankrupt nations, can our globally entwined civilization escape a final, catastrophic progress trap? With potent images and illuminating insights from thinkers who have probed our genes, our brains, and our social behavior, this requiem to progress-as-usual also poses a challenge: to prove that making apes smarter isn’t an evolutionary dead-end. This documentary is being sponsored and hosted by the EARThS Conference, a multidisciplinary conference on environmental research. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Jim Harbour (Hospitality Business Management)

    Challenges of Food Waste in the Hospitality Industry
    Tuesday, April 14, 4:00 pm, Todd 130

    Jim Harbour brings insight into issues of food waste not only from his expertise as a faculty member in the School of Hospitality Business Management but also as the owner of two local restaurants, Southfork Public House and Porch Light Pizza. Drawing from his academic and professional experience, Harbour will talk about the challenges of waste in the food industry as well as about new directions to address waste. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Environmental Movie Madness

    Monday, April 20, 4-8 pm, Todd 230

    The Environmental Science Club and ASWSU Sustainability Alliance are screening three documentaries as part of WSU’s observation of Earth Week. The Common Reading stamp will be available for attending any of the three.
    4-5 pm: Taking Earths’ Temperature: Delving into Climate’s Past
    5-6:30 pm: Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (screening of the film we hosted in January)
    7-8 pm: A Thousand Invisible Cords: Connecting Genes to Ecosystems

  • Climate Change Discussion Panel

    Tuesday, April 21, 7 pm, Todd Auditorium (Todd 116)

    This multidisciplinary discussion panel is designed to inform students on the basics of climate change. Each panelist will represent a distinct field in climate science research, providing information both on how climate change will affect his or her field of study as well as the careers and lives of students. Moderated by Allyson Beall King (Environmental Science), the panelists will be Stephanie Hampton (Director for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach), Lynne Carpenter-Boggs (Crop and Soil Sciences), Von Walden (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and Michael Goldsby (Philosophy). These panelists bring expertise in a wide variety of climate topics: environmental assessment and risk, groundwater and stream management, aquatic systems, agriculture, atmospheric interactions on regional climate change, and climate change denial. Sponsored by the Environmental Science Club and ASWSU Sustainability Alliance. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Earth Day Talk with Alex Steffen

    Foley Institute – Coffee and Politics
    Wednesday, April 22, 2-3 pm, Bryan 308

    The Foley Institute is hosting a talk by author Alex Steffen on sustainability as part of their Coffee and Politics series. Common Reading stamp available.

  • Alex Steffen (ASWSU Environmental Sustainability Alliance and Environmental Science Club Earth Week Speaker)

    World Changers
    Wednesday, April 22, 7 p.m., CUB Auditorium

    In recognition of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, WSU’s Environmental Science Club and the ASWSU Sustainability Alliance are sponsoring a talk by Alex Steffen, an award-winning writer and speaker who explores and imagines how we can be good ancestors in a time of planetary crisis. His books included Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century (2006), and Worldchanging 2.0 (2011), and Carbon-Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet (2012). His talk is cosponsored by the WSU Finance and Administration, Institute for Sustainable Design, Cougar Green Fund, the Foley Institute, the School of Design and Construction, CEREO – Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach, US Bank Campus Branch,Moscow Food Co-op, and the School of Design and Construction. Common Reading stamp available.