‘Garbology’ Theme Being Phased Out

Charles Darwin once said, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Clark’s Task Force Learning Committee has been trying to “adapt to change” over the past two years, with the help of Clark’s common read about garbology.

“Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes, explores the addiction that humans have to producing garbage.

“Garbology” examines America’s modern waste habits by addressing a variety of issues such as cultural influence, consumerism, solutions and environmental impact.

According to committee member and head of the Geography department Heather McAfee, the TFLC is in the midst of voting on Clark’s next common read.

“We currently have a survey out for faculty members and staff that has to be completed [by February], with the new reads that have been put forth,” McAfee said.

Faculty and staff are currently voting between six book choices. Voters read the descriptions and categories of these books.

During its time on campus, “Garbology” has “provided opportunities for active learning and integration within, between and among classes and co-curricular programs on campus,” said Lindsay Christopher, member of the TFLC and an English instructor.

Examples of “integrated learning” that Christopher mentions include students taking field trips to landfills, conducting waste audits with Waste Connections and even pushing for more environmental programming such as the documentary Plastic Paradise.

ASCC Club Coordinator Kara Meredith was the waste auditor for Environmental Health and Safety last year.

“One of the biggest things that impacted me when I was looking through [“Garbology”] was all of the garbage in our oceans,” Meredith said.

She explained “plastic chowder,” a situation where plastic in the ocean gets broken down so far that it turns into bite-sized balls that fish eat, which in turn are consumed by humans. “We’re actually pulling up fish with plastic inside them.”

Garrett Hoyt, member of the TFLC and health instructor, said “Garbology” was a good starting point with many successes, but he also believes there is room for improvement.

“I think it’s good just raising general awareness every term,” Hoyt said. “I get more and more students who have read it and [recognize] how much trash we produce, and that it does impact our environment, and we should be aware.”

Hoyt said the best solution is not producing as much trash in the first place.

Environmental Health and Safety Manager Jeff Miller remains optimistic that Clark is on the right track with increased compost bins, recycling containers and overall student awareness. Miller said this is the school’s second year being recognized as a “Green Business of Clark County.”

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