Thursday, January 17, 2008

Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash

Before the twentieth century, trash was nearly nonexistent. Strasser paints a vivid picture of an America where everything possible was reused: scavenger pigs roamed the streets, "swill children" collected kitchen garbage, and peddlers traded manufactured goods for rags and bones. Over the last hundred years, however, Americans have become hooked on disposability, fashion, and constant technological change, and the rise of mass consumption has led to waste on a previously unimaginable scale. Waste and Want recaptures a hidden part of our social history, vividly illustrating that what we throw away defines us as much as what we keep.


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