Garbology Paper

Garbology Paper - For four weeks I studied a household of...

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For four weeks, I studied a household of three female college students between the ages of nineteen and twenty through their material culture, using the discipline of Garbology (Rathje and Murphy 2001). Unsure at first of what area of their material culture I was going to be focusing on, I asked them a wide array of questions pertaining to their eating habits and what they anticipated they threw out and recycled (Figure 1). In order to isolate their thoughts aside from other influences, I interviewed them in separate rooms and did not show them responses from the others. From their response and the four week analysis of data, I wanted to be able to make conclusions on reported versus actual consumption, disposed food waste, and recycling habits versus recycling potential. One of the key elements in studying human ancestors is examining the material culture left in their trash pits. In reconstructing the past, garbage analysis has released a plethora of answers about changes in diet, preparation of food, and what materials were abundant and important in cultures of the past. Garbage analysis follows the same function in modern humans. One way the data collected from the garbage was compared was through subject interview (Figure 1). Unfortunately, people are unreliable in questionnaires and interviews due to societal pressure and imprecise estimation. They often report what they feel should be reported rather than what they know to be closer to the truth. On top of that, my interview made me come to the conclusion that we often do not even know what we discard because we do so without thinking about it. Given this unreliability, the experiment was set up to study the actual discarding habits of the off campus undergraduate population of the University of Georgia and of unmarried young undergraduate students in general. The study was conducted every Sunday, September 13 th through October 4 th . Many problems arose in planning my research. Most pressing was the issue of how to quantify the data collected from the trash to create a reasonably accurate representation. In fact, the Sunday before the start date (week 0) was dedicated entirely to testing the many approaches I
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Patton considered. Volume, I decided would be the most ideal representation of the data, but also the most impractical because the only volume-measuring method available to my limited team and resources was water displacement. By the very nature of the measurement, the process would ruin the other quantifying methods tried, measurement of mass and counting quantity, so it had to be done after the other two. Water displacement in this experiment is, in theory measured by using a five gallon bucket marked off in one liter increments. Using a one liter coke bottle, I would add one liter at a time, marking off the water level each time with the respected number of liters added. Ideally, using the conversion factor of one gallon equaling 3.785 liters, a five gallon bucket would be approximately 18.93 liters. For simplicity, I marked off to the 17 liter mark, giving me a
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2012 for the course ANTH 2120H taught by Professor Joseph during the Fall '08 term at UGA.

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Garbology Paper - For four weeks I studied a household of...

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