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How we are throwing our planet away

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Edward Humes' "Total Garbage" confronts a seemingly mundane issue – waste – and reveals its transformative potential. Humes, a Pulitzer Prize winner, weaves a compelling narrative that exposes the pervasiveness of waste in our daily lives.

The book tackles staggering statistics: 40% of food goes uneaten, and plastic pollution chokes our oceans. Humes argues that this "insanity" isn't inevitable. He delves into the root causes, exposing a system that prioritizes convenience and short-term profits over sustainability. We're lulled into accepting excessive packaging and planned obsolescence.

However, "Total Garbage" isn't merely a problem statement. Humes shines a light on the heroes— individuals and communities actively combating waste. He showcases innovative solutions like urban farming that reduces food waste and composting programs that turn kitchen scraps into valuable fertilizer.

The book emphasizes the power of individual choices. Humes encourages readers to become mindful consumers, opting for reusable products and supporting businesses committed to sustainability. He highlights the economic benefits of a circular economy, where waste becomes a resource. Reducing waste, he argues, improves public health, lessens our dependence on landfills, and combats climate change.

Total Garbage is not just about throwing less away; it's about a holistic approach to resource management. Humes empowers readers to become active participants in building a more sustainable future. By illuminating the problem and offering practical solutions, Total Garbage serves as a wake-up call and a roadmap for positive change.

Edward Humes is a Southern California journalist and author of 17 nonfiction books, with the latest, Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our waste and Heal Our World. His work has earned a Pulitzer Prize and a PEN Award, among other honors.

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*This interview will be recorded on Monday, April 8, 2024.


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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi