Final: Reflection

“Why Bother?”

Please read this Michael Pollen article and reflect upon his recommendations. After taking this class, how might your perspective on his argument have changed? What would the biggest recommendations be that you could make to the public/family and friends.

Homework 9: Consumerism


Waste a Lot, Want a Lot: Our All-Consuming Quest for Style
Paco Underhill’s Marketing Research (Read the first page, skim the rest at your leisure – there’s lots of interesting points!)


1. When did the American mindset change from frugal to more consumeristic? Why did it change?
2. What do you think is more significant for creating and keeping our consumeristic mindset: a natural human need to consume lots of stuff or marketing people targeting our minds?
3. What do you think of Paco Underhill’s marketing research? How do you feel about it (do you find it genius, creepy, both, etc)?
4. Bring Bring to class an example of overpackaging, unnecessary consumption or unnecessarily disposable items. (We’re going to go around the room and share!)

Homework 8: Zero Waste


Zero Waste Principles

1. Read the Principles page in its entirety.

2. What does a Zero Waste Society entail? Be specific. Give 3 examples.

3. On the right side of the ZW insitute page are some of the projects they have been doing. Browse and pick 2 projects that you are interested in and explain why?

4. Reflection time! Name 3 things that you personally try to reuse or reduce your consumption of at the source?

Alternative Homework for Zero Waste (yes really!) on Zero Waste
**I picked their page because it does a pretty good job of wrapping up what Zero Waste is. Still, it does have areas that need citations, but just keep that in mind while reading.


1. Read the Wiki page in its entirety.
2. List two companies that are practicing Zero Waste. What is each doing, exactly?
3. On the right side of the Wiki page is a small panel with the recycling symbol above. It’s labeled “3R Concepts.” Pick three to read about and write one line about each. DON’T WRITE ABOUT ANY OF THE THREE R’S. The following aren’t on the list, but you may choose to look them up: Guerrilla gardening & Permaculture.
4. Reflection time! Name 5 things that you personally try to reuse or reduce your consumption of at the source?

Homework 7: Composting


Article 1
Knoll Organics


1. Why is landfilling organic waste problematic?

2. Briefly define/explain each of the different kinds of composting:
a. Anaerobic composting
b. Vermicomposting (worms)
c. Aerobic

2. What should not be composted?
3. Would you compost in your own house? What kind of composting would you do? (What types of composting/methods, types of bins?)
4. Do you have any questions about composting still? Are there any misconceptions about composting that exist among the general public?
5. What is humanure? What’s the process? – don’t be too specific. Give one advantage of humanure. Be prepared to give us your opinions in class.

Homework 6: Agriculture and Hazardous Waste

  • midterm due!! (check last week’s HW posting for information. do good, we will share in class)
  • check the fieldtrip announcement!!
  • & read a few hazardous waste articles

Yucca Mountain

Homework 5: Sustainability

and…Midterm! Due 3/29 in class. Midterm Information (Note: disregard old due-dates on this attachment, it is from a past semester.)

Homework Reading

1) Read about 3 of the sustainable technologies below. We have provided some links, but feel free to do your own research (wikipedia OK!) Write a paragraph about each of your 3 topics. Tell what the option is, why it is or is not a sustainable practice. Think about who is investing in the technology, promoting it, rejecting it. (Note: we will go over each technology/method in class, so please be prepared to share opinions and information!)

2) “Sustainability” is widely talked about. What does it mean to you? Research some definitions of sustainability: tell us what you like about them, and also what assumptions you think underly these definitions. Can you find any fault or points of weakness in the definitions?


Solar panels

Wind Energy

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Green Building

Grey Water

Straw Baling

Rammed Earth/Adobe


Permaculture Gardening

Homework 4: Incinerators

Tip: Read these articles carefully; there’ll be an activity in class 😉

Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance
*Read the left-hand tabs on “Incinerators” and “Incinerators in disguise” and read about one of the GAIA REGIONS from the top tap.

Getting Rid of Garbage


1. How does GAIA make the argument that incinerators actually waste energy and are not good “waste-to-energy” systems?

2. What are dioxins? Write your response as if you are explaining it to a 10 year old.

3. What GAIA region did you read about? What are the main issues there?

4. What is the difference between bottom ash and fly ash? Why is putting better filters on incinerators not a complete solution?

Poll: Have you ever lived near a incinerator or landfill? Do you know someone that has? Tell us about it!

Homework 3: Environmental Justice


Principles of Environmental Justice
Love Canal
And, a really short exercise (just skim): Eco Privilege


1. Read the Preamble and the first and last (No. 1 and 17) of the Principles of Environmental Justice. Pick one other principle that you think is poignant. Explain why you chose it in (at least) 2-3 sentences.

2a. What is NIMBYism? What do you think of it?
2b. What is the Love Canal?
2c. What do you think of the argument against environmental racism provided in Environmental Justice and the NIMBY Principle? Is it valid?

3. Find your own example of environmental injustice in the form of an article, website, etc.  (google, newspaper sites etcetera – they’re surprisingly abundant). Paper examples are ok too, just bring the article into class. Write a short paragraph on your example.

Homework 2: Recycling (& Anti-Recycling)


Bottle Bill
Plastics Recycling Q&A

Recycling is Garbage (skim)

Read about how the following materials are recycled and be ready to discuss them in class. (I realize that website is for the UK but no U.S. site could beat its aesthetics! Their methods are also more or less the same). Be sure to look at all five tabs on the mid-right section (e.g. How is it recycled? Problems/Issues, etc).


1. When did the Bottle Bill begin to form in Califorina? How does the Bottle Bill work? Please browse through this page on the Bottle Bill.

2. Was there anything that surprised you about the Berkeley’s plastic recycling program?

3. How does Tierney prove his point: “Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.”

4. Do you agree/disagree with Tierney’s statement: “But the press isn’t solely responsible for recycling fervor; the public’s obsession wouldn’t have lasted this long unless recycling met some emotional need.”

5. Do you agree/disagree and why? “Environmentalists may genuinely believe they’re helping the earth, but they have been hurting the common good while profiting personally, just like the village’s herdsmen. This is the real Tragedy of the Dump: the waste of public funds on recycling programs, the needless public alarm about landfills.”

Homework 1: History of Garbage

Please read in their entirety.
Definitions of the Day
History of Garbage

Response Questions
1. When did garbage first become a problem/crisis for people?
2. Why did people finally take up waste management as a public responsibility?
3. Given Rathje’s (Article 1) discussion of behavior, how garbage conscious are you?
4. What is the difference between “garbage”, “discards”, and “waste”?