Previous Years: 2014-15

Garbology Curriculum Ideas

Below are ideas for the use of Garbology in classrooms across campus.  If you have ideas for your own activities and would like to share with the WSU community, please contact the Common Reading Program at


Using Primary Sources to Explore the Evolution of Consumer Products (submitted by Karen Weathermon)

WSU’s library has a complete run of several popular magazines such as The Ladies Home Journal, Life, Newsweek, and Time.  These bound issues are readily accessible on the shelves and available for checkout.  The advertisements in these journals present an interesting way of exploring the development of consumer products like plastics, as well as of charting the varying attitudes toward recycling (in WWII, for example) and the environment.


Extending “Sustainability” to Address Issues in the First-Year Experience (submitted by Karen Weathermon, with credit Cal State Northridge)

Although Garbology specifically addresses the issue of consumer waste, sustainability is a topic that can easily be extended to think about the broader issues of first-year students—time management, project planning, etc.  One could initiate a conversation about what the term “sustainability” means as the starting point for a discussion (and follow-up activities) about the habits students need to acquire for their college efforts to be sustainable over time.  The concept of “waste” also is applicable.  Humes challenges readers to consider what we regard as “waste” in a new light to see what can be refused and repurposed.  We also talk about time as something we waste. What makes a particular use of time valuable?  And how might students reconsider their own schedules to think about how they might repurpose their time?


Tracking Trash through Google Earth (submitted by Karen Weathermon, with credit to Jean McGregor of the Washington Center)

Google Earth provides a way of seeing the details of the global landscape.  What can students discover about the destination of waste from their home towns/cities by using this tool?  How large are the landfills in their communities?  Where are they located?  Have they ever seen them in person, or are they well hidden from view?