Garbology for Faculty and Staff: Talking about Trash with Students

Garbology Events


Sep. 12 (Thursday): Freshman Convocation

Oct. 22 (Tuesday): Sustainability Day at CSUN. Theme for 2013: TRASH!

Dec. 4 and 5 (Wednesday & Thursday): the annual Freshman Celebration

Mar. 4 (Tuesday): Let's Talk T.R.A.S.H. Food, live performances, music, games, art. USU Plaza del Sol, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Through Mar. 28 (Friday): Recycle Mania at CSUN

Apr. 14-24 (Monday-Thursday): Radioactive Seafood Market exhibition, West Gallery, CSUN.

April 24 (Thursday): Earth Day and related events at CSUN

A CSUN student reminds you to READ Garbology and don't forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle.


FacebookCSUN Reads Garbology: Facebook page

"L.A. approves ban on plastic grocery bags" (6/18/13)

Possible Events

Anything is possible. Which events appeal to you? Thanks to Karen Abramowitz for suggesting most of them at her April Garbology book group session.

Peanut the Turtle

Peanut the turtle who was found in 1993 stuck in the loop of a six-pack

Peanut the Turtle was found in Missouri in 1993, trapped in a discarded plastic beverage ring. (More information...)

AFYE links

About AFYE

The AFYE Archive

The AFYE Library: located in CIELO (Sierra Hall 4th floor). Download a list of titles and authors (.xls, 164 KB)

The AFYE Listserv: occasional emails of interest to CSUN faculty and staff who work with first-year students. To add (or remove) your name, email Cheryl Spector.

CSUN Garbology bookmark

Wordcloud for Garbology includes waste, dump, garbage, environment, change, recycling, sustainability, and other key words.

One fish, two fish; red fish, blue fish: ART 100 at CSUN.

One birght fish from Edie Pistolesi's ART 100 project.

Two birght fish from Edie Pistolesi's ART 100 project.

Red fish (shrimp?) from Edie Pistolesi's ART 100 class.

Blue fish from Edie Pistolesi's ART 100 class.

Cover of Garbology by Edward Humes showing plastic trash and e-waste.

Faculty & staff book groups

The spring and summer 2013 book groups were a great success, thanks to Karen Abramowitz, Jada Augustine, Debbi Mercado, Ronit Sarig, and the many gregarious colleagues who joined in the discussions.

Over 200 paperback copies of Garbology were distributed to CSUN faculty and staff who agreed to the applicable terms and conditions. (For details, read The Deal at the bottom of this l-o-n-g column.) Alas, we have no more free copies.

Resources for Garbology

What can we do with this book at CSUN? Plenty! The matching bookmarks are just a beginning. Consider, for example, the "Nesting Mother and Child Vortex Creatures" (pictured here) created by students in Prof. Edie Pistolesi's ART 100 class. Add your resource to our list!

Special thanks to CSUN faculty members Karen Abramowitz, Debbi Mercado, and Ronit Sarig, who shared many of these resources (and the events in the left column) during their spring book groups.

Apps (one and counting)

  1. We Tap: an (Android) app designed to help people find water fountains in any city in the world. Works with Google maps.

Articles, books, and news stories

  1. Bea Johnson profiled in Sunset Magazine:
  2. "Calatrava’s "Museum of Tomorrow" to Showcase a Greener Future for Rio": Also: search Google images for "Museum of Tomorrow"
  3. "Following Garbage's Long Journey around the Earth": NPR story about Garbology, Edward Humes, and the Pacific Garbage Patch.
  4. Greendimes: How to stop junk mail:
  5. "How Do Japanese Dump Trash? Let Us Count the Myriad Ways":
  6. "In Japan: 10 Garbage Categories, and a 27 page booklet of explanations":
  7. "The Joy of Garbage": Editorial.
  8. "Nineteen-year-old student develops ocean clean-up array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic from the world's oceans": read the story
  9. Picking Up by anthropologist Robin Nagle (2013): a book about the New York Department of Sanitation. The book is also the subject of a short article by Lawrence Biemiller in The Chronicle of Higher Education (8 March 2013): "'Dr. Garbage' Studies Unsung Local Tribe." (A31 print edition).
  10. Spittelau's beautiful waste-to-energy plant in Vienna: picture and article
  11. Stratford, Connecticut, garbage museum closed after 16 years:
  12. "Sustainable Dave" ( Dave Chameides) kept all of his trash and recycling in his basement for a year in order to better understand his waste footprint. He blogs at 365 Days of Trash, teaches an environmental seminar called "Chasing Sustainability," and is working on a book called "365 Days of Solutions." He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids, and yes, he is still married. He kept all trash in the basement, and was forced to make choices because he didn’t have a lot of space. His trash ended up in the Connecticut Garbage Museum, which is now closed. Dave's blog: Article about his collection of trash:
  13. Sweden Runs Out of Garbage, Forced to Import From Norway:
  14. "Trashbags You Won't Throw Out": New York Times article (10/9/2013) about major fashion design houses (Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, and others) and the latest trend: garbage as fashion. (The article offerss a link to part of Zoolander, the movie which "introduced the concept of a garbage-inspired fashion collection.")
  15. "Sweden to Import 800,000 Tons of Trash":
  16. "Why the Mafia Loves Garbage":
  17. Zero Waste Home: Bea Johnson’s blog:

Artists and art: gorgeous garbage

  1. Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’s ecological designs:
  2. The Garbage Museum in Stratford, Connecticut: search Google images for "garbage museum."
  3. "Mechanical Sculptures Built from Discarded Objects":
  4. "Mr. Molina’s Gallery of Scavenged Art": For 20 years, Molina, a sanitation worker, has been collecting art recovered from the trash:
  5. Nathaniel Stookey’s composition "Junkestra," composed while he was a Recology artist-in-residence
  6. "One Plastic Beach." Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, artists, have been collecting art from one beach at the Point Reyes National Seashore for over ten years--and making art out of it. (Note: this video lacks captions. Could a U100 or other interested class provide them?) Thanks to Ellyn Gersh Lerner for the link to the video.
  7. Recology's Arist-in-Residence Program in San Francisco:
  8. Trash Fashion:
  9. "Trash: Twelve Artists, One Vision, Unlimited Possibilities": twelve artists working with trash to create and to teach:

CSUN resources

  1. Anthropology Department: "archaeologists have a lot to say about garbage" (according to one professor) and "I'm a sucker for garbage" (another professor).
  2. Associated Students Recycling Center
  3. Associated Students Recycling Squad: three-part YouTube video featuring CSUN students
  4. Institute for Sustainability
  5. GE Paths: did you know that Sustainability is one of CSUN's GE Paths? (Check out the current GE Paths course list to see what courses are offered each semester.)
  6. Debbi Mercado has prepared an annotated guide to (some of) the resources (.doc, 18kb) listed on this webpage.
  7. The Matador Exchange: "The Matador Exchange is a market for items from furniture, electronics, and sports equipment to textbooks and school supplies. Based on sites like Freecycle and Craigslist, the Matador Exchange seeks to encourage students to reduce the waste of unneeded items that may be of use to other students." (New for fall 2013.)
  8. Ronit Sarig's page-by-page outline of Garbology, available to faculty and staff only. Request via email to Cheryl Spector.
  9. Sustainability Minor: CSUN catalog.

Discussion questions

  1. Jada Augustine's "possible Moodle questions" keyed to pages of the text (.doc, 33kb)
  2. Debbi Mercado's a list of book-related discussion topics, assignments, and activities (.doc, 38kb)
  3. Readers' Guide for Garbology (from the author's website)
  4. More Discussion Questions from Penguin (9/1/2013)
  5. Ronit Sarig's Garbology discussion questions and topics for student research (.docx, 22kb)

Sample Stretch Composition Syllabus using Garbology

  1. The Progressions: Stretch Syllabus by Jada Augustine (.doc, 89kb)

University 100 and Garbology

  1. Lesson plan available to U100 faculty and other interested faculty and staff, on request via email to Cheryl Spector.
  2. Introducing Garbology and sustainability: single-class lesson plan by Debbi Mercado (.doc, 35kb)


  1. Associated Students Recycling Squad: three-part YouTube video featuring CSUN students:
  2. Bea Johnson gives a tour of her house:; more clips from Sunset Magazine's YouTube collection.
  3. Chico Bag's Andy Keller (dressed as Bag Monster) talks to kids about ways to reduce waste:
  4. Don't Call it a Dump!:
  5. DOT--Plastic State of Mind: (One of Debbi's favorites; she says, "Be sure to see the message at the end!")
  6. Life of a Plastic Bag:
  7. The Light Bulb Conspiracy,"the story of companies that engineered their products to fail." Documentary. IMDb.
  8. "One Plastic Beach." Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, artists, have been collecting art from one beach at the Point Reyes National Seashore for over ten years--and making art out of it. (Note: this video lacks captions. Could a U100 or other interested class provide them?) Thanks to Ellyn Gersh Lerner for the link to the video.
  9. Plastics: (Ted Talks)
  10. Puente Hills Waste-by-Rail:
  11. Recycled Orchestra: the Landfill Harmonic (Sonidos de la Tierra/Sounds of the Earth): members of this orchestra in Paraguay play on instruments built out of recycled garbage. (more)
  12. San Francisco on Track to Become Zero Waste City:
  13. The Story of Stuff: Debbi notes that they have other related videos about responsible citizenship that she really likes for their clarity and brevity (bottled water, how to be an agent of change, recycling, etc.): See The Story of Stuff Project:
  14. Wasteland (documentary film):


  1. Do One Thing (DOT):
  2. Edward Humes's author blog (including this post about our choice of his book)
  3. Landfillharmonic movie project pitch on Kickstarter:
  4. Litterati: (1. Find a piece of litter; 2. Photograph it with Instagram; 3. Hashtag your photo with "#Litterati"; 4. Throw away, recycle, or compost the litter)
  5. Map: single-use bag ban legislation world-wide
  6. MIT Trash Track:
  7. National Energy Education Development (NEED) Museum of Solid Waste and Energy offers a 43-page document ( as part of a project teaching students about garbage, including instructions on how to create a museum in the classroom. Great information, great ideas.
  8. Recyclemania:
  9. Save Our Beach: (Kim Masoner)
  10. Take 3: A Clean Beach Initiative: Australia; includes videos.
  11. TerraCycle:

The deal: free copies of Garbology for CSUN faculty and staff

About those free copies of Garbology: beginning in March 2013, CSUN faculty or staff were invited to request a free copy of Garbology from Cheryl Spector. In return, faculty and staff agreed to speak about the book with at least one new CSUN freshman in fall 2013. Short conversations satisfied the terms of this agreement so long as the conversation included a reference to the book (and/or Freshman Convocation).