I’m getting ready to visit the College of Wooster, where the freshmen class is reading Garbology. I’m already so inspired by the ways students there are challenging themselves to be less trashy. Check out this great video, where a Wooster student named MacKenzie explains how she made her love of coffee less wasteful with reusable mugs and a reusable capsule for her single-cup coffee maker. This even saves her money!
The coolest thing I did this summer: During a family vacation in Hawaii, daughter Gaby, son Eben and I saw the spectacular sunrise from the 10,000-foot-high crater rim of the Haleakala volcano, then bicycled 23 miles downhill. Nature's roller coaster, with a stop halfway down for macadamia pancakes!
Two of coolest things I'll be doing this fall: Meeting with students and talking trash in October with the freshman of Rowan University in New Jersey, just across the river from my hometown of Philadelphia, and at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Both schools have adopted Garbology as their freshmen reads.
I've been traveling this fall to speak at colleges where Garbology is this year's campus read or part of the freshmen "First Year Experience," and is being read in English, geography, anthropology, ecology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and sustainability classes. What an inspiration to find my book used as a catalyst for discussions about waste, recycling, and the economic and environmental opportunities inside an empty trash can.
Here are five cool things schools are doing to craft successful campus reads, bringing Garbology alive for students and engaging them in conversations about waste:
1. Sponsor a trash art contest like the University of New Mexico.
2. Challenge Students to "Change One Thing" like Washington State University.
3. Have students carry all their trash for a week on their backs, then weigh in for the winner. Marymount California University made this a class project. The school also put the kibosh on disposable plastic water bottles and foam takeout containers as part of a campus-wide sustainability push.
4. Create cool lending library displays — another great UNM idea.
5. Have students do a Dumpster Dive trash audit. Portland State University students were horrified by the legion of unrecycled coffee cups behind the science building.
Penguin Books has published an amazing Garbology Teachers Guide and resource compendium for classroom use and campus reads.
I'm just back from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the second biggest university in the country — and home of thelargest freshman class, which you can see pictured above. I had the great pleasure of talking trash at their convocation, where every incoming freshman received a copy of Garbology as part of the program.
The City of Portland is a world leader on sustainability and green policies — not to mention a beautiful, livable community. But there's one area where it falls short on the environmental front: garbage.
Portlanders make more trash than the average American. And though they are avid recyclers, they also send 50+ big-rig diesel trucks a day filled with trash to someone else's back-yard 150 miles away. Local leaders and environmentalists realize the problem and are determined to better.
This past week I returned from a series of cool "Let's Talk Trash" events in the city. I was happy to share the stories behind Garbology at events hosted by OregonMetro and the Portland City Club. Here's the audio from the City Club discussion.
Later this month (air time to come), I'll be talking wine and A Man and His Mountain on American Public Media's Splendid Table.
On Sunday April 13, I'll be at the LA Times Festival of Books at USC. My panel, "Nonfiction: Exploring a Singular Pursuit," will be at the Taper Forum at 2 pm, with authors Tom Bissell, Dana Goodyear and Greg Sestero and moderator Elizabeth Taylor.
Next up is the very cool Bay Gourmet Event on the evening of April 21 for A Man and His Mountain at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club, where I'll be "in conversation" with the most powerful woman in the wine industry, Barbara Banke, chairwoman of Jackson Family Wines (and wife of the late winemaking legend, Jess Jackson, the subject of my book).
I'll be in Lake Como, Italy, June 22-29, for my second tour of duty at the Abroad Writers Conference, where I'll be leading an intensive nonfiction workshop geared to professional and published writers. It's not too late to sign up now!
And in August I'm off to Orlando to speak at the convocation at University of Central Florida, where the freshmen are kicking of their First Year Experience with Garbology as their campus common read. I was recently at the FYE conference in San Diego, where I spoke to college representatives from all over the nation on Garbology.