–The New York Times Book Review
“A clear-thinking and peppery writer, Rogers presents a galvanizing expose of how we became the planet’s trash monsters.”
–Booklist (starred review)
Named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review and a nonfiction choice by The Guardian, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage is the widely praised debut by journalist and filmmaker Heather Rogers. Said to “read like a thriller” (Library Journal), Gone Tomorrow takes us on an oddly fascinating tour through the underworld of garbage and brings meaning to all that gets discarded.
Eat a take-out meal, buy a pair of shoes, or read a newspaper, and you’re soon faced with a bewildering amount of rubbish. The United States is the planet’s number one producer of trash; each American throws out 4.5 pounds daily. How did we end up with this much waste, and where does it all go? By excavating the history of rubbish handling from the 1800s—an era of garbage-grazing urban hogs and dump-dwelling rag pickers—to the present, with its high- tech “mega-fills” operated by multi-billion-dollar garbage corporations, Rogers answers these questions with a “lively authorial voice” (New York Press), offering a potent argument for change.
Over the past 30 years, worldwide garbage output has exploded, doubling in the U.S. alone. Gone Tomorrow explains that, despite popular wisdom, this torrent of rubbish is not primarily the responsibility of the consumer. In fact, shoppers often have little choice in the wastes they generate. Consider packaging: tossed cans, bottles, boxes and wrappers now take up more than a third of all U.S. landfill space. More prolific today than ever before, packaging is garbage waiting to happen.
Once buried or burned, trash is hardly benign. Landfills, even the most state-of-the-art, are environmental time bombs. They spew greenhouse gases, and leach hazardous chemicals and heavy metals into groundwater and soil. Waste incinerators are no less disastrous. They emit 70% of the world’s dioxin, and pollute the air with toxic particulate matter and a host of gases that cause acid rain.
Gone Tomorrow also explores controversial topics like the politics of recycling and the export of trash to developing countries. Part exposé, part social commentary, Gone Tomorrow traces the connection between modern industrial production, consumer culture, and our disposable lifestyle. Read it and you’ll never think of garbage the same way again.