Elizabeth Royte's book, Garbge Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash , is probably unlike other Sustainability books, in fact I would not categorize it as such. Instead, Royte offers the reader a personal account of trash.
Royte lets her curiosity take her on an adventure of dump sites, trash collection routes and polluted wetlands. She ends up tracking down her trash and answering many questions trash along the way. History of landfills, how sewage and recycling plants works, and the politics behind the industry are just a few topics that get covered.
Sprinkled throughout her stories are endless details and fascinating facts about trash: what do 40 year old hot dogs look like, best practices for composting, what really happens to our poop. Because Royte investigates every aspect of her own waste stream, not just curbside pickup, the reader gets a fairly comprehensive perspective. We are dragged from sorting facilities in the New York Area to sites in Pennsylvania, where most of New York City's trash ends, to orange groves in Florida where "biosolids" (dried feces) ends up being spread as fertilizer for crops to Asia where most of our metals get shipped to.
Overall, the book is an engaging account of a process few of us care to personally investigate. In the end, I think Royte's point is that our trash is always with us. We may put it out on the curb, flush it down the toilet or donate it to charity, but it just changes formats and eventually comes back to us in other forms.