plastic waste

'Garbology' Students Share Their Trashy Tips

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!

“I’m still getting my morning coffee,” she says, “and I’m creating a lot less waste.”

Robert, meanwhile, says he is avoiding all food packaged in plastic. Emma has ended her addiction to plastic water bottles. I can’t wait to see what other ideas and questions the Wooster students come up with when I visit their Ohio campus on September 26-27.

I love it when Garbology readers reach out to share ways they are being less wasteful — everything from participating in beach cleanups, to composting table scraps, to buying used things whenever possible. One Purdue University Northwest student told me how she created a Bag Monster costume out of hundreds of plastic bags. She it wears it on campus and at community events to raise awareness about the dire effect plastic waste is having on the world’s oceans.

So I’ve started keeping a list of great suggestions from readers who reuse, reduce, recycle, and refuse unwanted items. I’ll be posting the list on my site later this fall and I welcome your trashy suggestions and photos, too. Send me a message at and I’ll add your suggestions to the list!

The Champion of Plastic Bags

Stephen L. Joseph is pacing the halls and stairways of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, having just wrangled a brief break and an extra fifteen minutes for his closing statement from an increasingly impatient judge. Now as he wanders distractedly, he rehearses his best lines against a type of environmental ordinance that cities and counties across California and the nation are adopting.

"The thing is, I feel I am the true environmentalist here, because I'm only interested in the truth - solid science, solid facts," says the Tiburon-based attorney, whose native British accent is still detectable after more than three decades of U.S. citizenship.

No, Joseph is not battling over massive solar farms in delicate desert habitats. Nor is his case about erecting wind turbines in the flight paths of migratory birds. Rather, Joseph's mission is to save the plastic shopping bag from extinction....

Read more about the campaign to ban plastic bags - and the man whose job is to bag the bans - in my latest California Lawyer magazine article, as well as in Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash.