November 11, 2014: Garbology News

The following is a summary of the news in and around the subject of garbology, our regular attempt to collect more resources, references, and information you may use in your classroom discussions.

Garbage Clean Up in the Ocean: This week’s news features recent news stories about the trash in our oceans.

The Weather Channel showcased a video from NOAA divers returning from a 33-day mission to college marine garbage from the ocean floor around Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a UNESCO World Heritage site and among the world’s largest marine conversation areas, totally 57 tons of trash.

The trash included a 28×7 foot “super net” from a fishing trawler weighing about 11 1/2 tons in addition to more than 8,000 pounds of fishing nets caught on the coral reefs, plastic debris including 1,469 drink bottles, 3,758 bottle caps, and 477 lighters, the latter commonly eaten by birds.

NOAA estimated 904 tons of marine debris has been removed from the area since 1996 as part of their ongoing Marine Debris Program, which sent reports in regularly during the mission including 10/21: Bottle Caps, Lighters, and Birds Don’t Mix: Cleaning Up Marine Debris at Midway Atoll, 10/17: Where Are All of These Derelict Nets Coming From?, and The Final Count: 57 Tons of Marine Debris Now Out of the Monument.

According to TakePart’s article on the clean-up, the US Environmental Protection Agency is working on a study to learn more about the dangers and threats to wildlife, marine and otherwise, from plastic and microplastic pollution. Scientific American reported in 2013 about the waters of the Great Lakes of Michigan polluted with personal grooming products with small plastic beads in them, an abrasive additive found in facial and body scrubs. They wash through the sewer systems into the lakes and oceans where fish, turtles, and birds think they are food. The micro exfoliates are often unable to be processed, blocking digestive systems.

…chemical analysis of the Lake Erie samples revealed varying levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the product of incomplete combustion usually found near steel mill coking plants or from burning wood or petroleum products. In the mix was also polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other organochlorides such as the potent and poisonous insecticide DDT. PCBs were used in electric transformers and motors, until Congress banned them from production in 1979 because of their ability to cause cancer in humans.

Rios reports that the bits of plastic, essentially “solid oil,” absorb the chemicals like a sponge. The concentration of PAHs in Lake Erie is twice as high as that in the Atlantic because the ocean’s size dilutes the little pellets.

The pollutants can remain in the environment for more than 50 years and can accumulate in fish and other organisms, proceeding up the food chain on ingestion by other species. PAHs can cause DNA damage in organisms that accumulate higher concentrations, which, in turn, can lead to cancer or physiological impairment. PCBs can cause cardiac problems, skeletal deformities and neurological deficiencies. Some of the compounds are classified as endocrine disrupters, meaning they affect hormone levels and systems in plants, animals and even people.

Also check out NOAA’s Response and Restoration Blog. They have reports on NOAA’s efforts to respond to global ocean threats as well as restoration of beaches, reefs, and marine ecosystems.

Diane Rehm’s radio show covered the impact of garbage in the world’s ocean last week with Callum Roberts marine scientist and conservationist, University of York (England) and author of “The Unnatural History of the Sea” (2007), and Charles Moore a sea captain, pollution expert, activist and founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Award-winning cinematographer, Rick Rosenthal and Pew capture on video the “Lure of Flotsam,” garbage in the ocean including the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) to lure juvenile tuna and other species for industrial tuna fishing.

Reminders and Nags

Reminders - garbage can with clocks in it.Book Club Meeting: Please add Friday, November 21, from 12-1:30PM to your calendar for the next Garbology Book Club Meeting in the Cannell Library (LIB 101). It is open to faculty and students.

Including Garbology in Your Curriculum? If you are including garbology in your classes, please contact us to let us know so we can report on your activities and create a master list of the classes and departments actively participating in the Common Read Project.

Discussions: We have numerous discussions on the site for you to participate in to learn more about garbology and how to incorporate it into the classroom. See the Discussions category.

Student Garbology Site – Wordless Wednesday: The student site for Garbology Common Read Project is looking for images for the Wordless Wednesday meme for students and teachers. If you would like to offer or recommend images to this project for the student site or for your class, please contact us.

Ideas: If your class has incorporated any or all of the Garbology book into your curriculum, we’d love to hear about it. If not, are you wondering how to incorporate garbology into your curriculum? Check out the list created by the brainstorming sessions from the Faculty Focus event on Clark Faculty Ideas for Garbology Projects.

Garbology, Garbage, Recycling, and Related News

Australia: The Canberra Times reports that garbage is being used to heat fish ponds for restaurant-quality seafood and fish. The environmental waste management company, Veolia, captures methane gas from garbage and uses it to power generators to heat the company’s aquaculture ponds nearby. They are looking to expand the project.

Philippines: According to GMA News, 834 tons of garbage was collected from Manila cemeteries after the traditional observance of Undas (All Saints and All Souls Days) from around the city as people left flowers and tributes to their deceased family members.

Vancouver, Canada: Researchers claim local garbage could interfere with bear hibernation in the Whistler area due to the easy access to residential garbage. Nine bears have been euthanized due to human-interaction in the province since April. Officials warn of fines for not securing trash left outside homes and offices and not in a bear-resistant container.

Virginia: The York Daily Record reports on a Garbage Fairy. Shawn Wecker is a garbage collector for Penn Waste and decided to dress up in a neon-green tutu around the waist of his uniform like a fairy for Halloween because he “makes garbage disappear” just like fairies.

Ontario, Canada: According to local news reports, Dongara Developments opened a CD $50 million facility that would sort, fiberize, and compress household garbage into clean-burning fuel pellets to resolve the city’s 1000,000 tons of garbage issue. The fuel pellets would be a clean alternative to coal and landfills. The contract has been cancelled and the project possibly scraped because the pellets could not pass regulations, prohibiting sale of the pellets in Canada. However, they have sold a “tremendous amount” of pellets to the United States where there are no strict regulations, but the transportation costs cut into the profitability. The company states they are exploring options for improving the conversion process in the future.

India: A garbage dump outside of a hospital and medical college in Panaji is creating a health hazard for patients as reported in The Times of India.

“It (garbage) can breed mosquitoes which can lead to dengue, malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The second is flies. Flies that sit on garbage could transfer diseases to patients and could lead to gastrointestinal infections,” a senior doctor at GMC said.

San Diego: Fox News in San Diego reported on a burglar who broke into a lounge and spa wearing black garbage bags as a disguise, stealing computer equipment.

Garbology Research, References, and Studies

Around the World in 80 Dumps: Around The World In 80 Dumps | Trash by Andy Mulligan is a book project, part of the Small Steps’ Project, a writer and photographer’s journey to make people aware of the poor conditions of life in and around dumps. Mulligan traveled around the world to India, South Africa, Cambodia, Philippines, Nicaragua, Yemen, and other places to meet and learn about the families living in garbage dumps.

Sweden’s Garbage Solution: One Green Planet explored Sweden’s recycling and garbage policies and techniques for managing the trash, as well as the American attitude about garbage management. The article contains research information and links to international garbage management issues.

Garbology, Waste Management, Environment, Recycling, and Related Topic Videos

Sweden: Treehugger presented a video look inside Sweden’s “recyling-obsessed, garbage-powered cities.

Bahrain Garbage Millionaire: The Blaze TV site reports that in Bahrain, a young documentarian is filming and photographing a man who picks up trash on the street every morning. The man is not a city employee but a millionare named Mr. Yo, a South Korean investor who moved to Bahrain 11 years ago and nicknamed himself the “Boss of Cleaning.”


We need your input! If you have information, resources, references, or news items related to our campus-wide common read project, Garbology, please let us know. We’re working hard to bring you information to help you include the book and topic of garbology into your classrooms. Let us know how we can help, but we can’t do it without your help, too.

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