Campus Common Read - Current Book

Campus Common Read - Current Book

Front cover of Garbology - 2015 common read

Common Read 2015 Front Cover

Image: Cover design by Nellys

The Campus Common Read for the 2015-16 Academic Year. 

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
By Edward Humes

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist takes readers on a surprising tour of America’s biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash.

The average American produces 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime and $50 billion in squandered riches are rolled to the curb each year. But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century.

In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists residing in San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.

Garbology is raising awareness of trash consumption and is sparking community-wide action through One City One Book programs around the country. It is becoming an increasingly popular addition to high school and college syllabi and is being adopted by many colleges and universities for First Year Experience programs.
Excerpt from Amazon.

Fall Events

A screening of the documentary, “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” will be held on Thursday, September 10th at 11:30 - 12:55 (common hour) in 103 Tomeszko. 

Following the screening,  Dr. Eric Stein, Associate Professor at Penn State Great Valley (Management Science and Information Systems Management)  will moderate a discussion with audience members around the themes in the movie.

"Plastic Paradise" is an independent documentary film that chronicles Angela Sun's personal journey of discovery to one of the most remote places on Earth, Midway Atoll, to uncover the truth behind the mystery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the way she encounters scientists, celebrities, legislators and activists who shed light on what our society's vast consumption of disposable plastic is doing to our oceans -- and what it may be doing to our health.

Soft pretzels and iced tea/lemon aid will be available following the event.

This documentary is also available online to anyone with a Penn State logon ID and password at

Please plan to join us.