Garbology Project – Trash Talk at UW

The next time you throw something away, you may want to consider the journey that piece of trash is going to take.  Especially if you are on the UW campus, your piece of trash has the potential to tell a story about who we are as a community, and how we dispose of our objects.  The UW garbology project strives to reduce waste on campus by educating the faculty and student body on how we dispose of our garbage.  In an effort to better understand the garbology project, and the archaeology of garbage in general, I worked on a team that examined two different locations of garbage at Denny Hall on the UW campus.  The first, a small can outside of a class room, contained typical fare for the hallway of a school; paper products, a coffee cup, a plastic bottle. These items would be expected, although it was disappointing to find them in a trash can right next to recycled items.  We also found chewing tobacco in this can, a socially questionable activity that we did not expect to find on campus.  The larger garbage receptacle just outside of Denny Hall contained mostly food wastes.  This means that it came from a location with a close proximity to food – and it’s a college campus, so there are quite a few of those!  The results of our study was an interesting glimpse into the activities and depositional habits on the UW campus.  You can learn more about the ongoing efforts of the University’s garbology project by visiting, and remember to be thoughtful about the story that your garbage tells about you!

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